Everyone wonders what the future holds for events if people are unable to travel or gather in large groups in the short term, and how the industry may be impacted in the long term. One thing we know for sure: Whether you are an event organizer or speaker, your business is changing. Given this disruption of the events industry, I’m super excited that my new book Standout Virtual Events: How to create an experience that your audience will love, which I co-wrote with Michelle Manafy, is out now.
Regular readers of my blog and social feeds know that over the past five months, I’ve written extensively about virtual events. It’s a fascinating subject for me because it is at the intersection of my decades of work around how to bring marketing into the online world with my practice of the art of public speaking.
When I realized this summer that I had amassed a significant amount of knowledge about virtual events, I started to put it together in book form.
However, as much as I dug in from the perspective of a virtual event speaker, I was missing a critical component: The event planning perspective. So, I asked my long-time industry pal Michelle Manafy to co-write Standout Virtual Events with me. Michelle is the editorial director of Digital Content Next, the only trade organization dedicated to serving the needs of high-quality digital media companies. In this role she plans and runs many events a year.
Michelle was my very first editor nearly 20 years ago, when I was a cub contributing editor at EContent magazine. Around that time, I spoke on a panel that Michelle moderated at the Buying and Selling EContent conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Soon, we were collaborating on many other projects. Michelle: Thank you for agreeing to write this book with me. It’s great to “get the band back together” and work together once again.
Our perspectives on the virtual events business
In just the first two months of 2020, I delivered talks to thousands of people at 10 different in-person events on three continents. Michelle's organization had a dozen events planned for the year, topics set, locations booked, contracts signed. And she'd already agreed to participate in many others.
Then Covid-19 hit. My last in-person speaking engagement in 2020 was on March 3. Mid-March, Michelle's organization sent everyone home and went into wait-and-see mode. We both realized that for the foreseeable future, there would be no in-person events.
I quickly pivoted to virtual speaking. Between April 2 and the end of September, when our book was completed, I delivered talks at 25 virtual events. Within a few short weeks, Michelle created a plan to shift her organization's events online, including rethinking their structure, timeline, sponsorships and more
In our own ways, and then together, we dug into the art and science of virtual events and looked at how to produce effective virtual events from every angle. And these explorations became the ideas in our new book, which we’re excited to share with anyone interested in creating virtual events that people will love.
How to create Standout Virtual Events
Our new book Standout Virtual Events: How to create an experience that your audience will love is a quick read. We distilled our ideas down into a concise guide that most people will be able to digest in a couple of hours.
Some of the things we cover include:
Making Connections in a Socially Distant World
Understanding the Purpose of Running a Virtual Event
Critical Differences Between In Person and Virtual Events