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Why the virtual events user experience matters – and how to achieve it

A great user experience is crucial for the success of your virtual event

When you decide to hold a virtual event, you’re making a statement of intent. You’re creating something more than just a series of video meetings: an experience. You’re bringing people together for something special. And as with so many customer-focused experiences, a great user experience in virtual events is vital.

And it begins from the moment you invite people to attend. After all, you want your event to seem significant. It’s a must-attend date for the diary, and something beyond the day-to-day experience. So many things hit our inboxes and cross our screens every day. And our eyes are drawn to things that are new, interesting, perhaps curious and exciting. Creating a virtual event can do all of these things.

But that’s just the start. An excellent user experience depends on many factors throughout the planning and execution…

Easy access to each and every session

One of the key annoyances with regular video meetings can be access. We’ve all tried to join external video meetings and had to search for links, passwords and codes. It can be frustrating especially if you need to hop from one session to another. This just doesn’t happen with virtual events. It’s just as well if there are multiple sessions that your attendees will want to attend.

The good news is, they only need sign-in once. And if it’s an internal event, this may well be possible using your organization’s Single Sign-On (SSO) functionality. It means that from the get-go, your users have a helpful user experience. Access is simple and easy. You log in once and that’s it. No need to reassert your credentials each time you wish to attend a session. Everyone has all they need to attend any or every session. No chasing around for links and no meeting codes to enter.

A branded environment

And what of the event itself? Well, having registered for the event, your attendees can browse and choose the sessions they will attend. And inside the virtual event platform, they will immediately feel at home. You can customize and brand your event to your look and feel, as much or as little as you want. NTT’s own virtual events platform offers you both ‘2D’ or ‘3D’ experiences. The former presents all sessions and resources in a regular on-screen format. The latter, by contrast, offers an enhanced visual layout. It elevates your event to something more substantial. It creates the look and experience of a conference or event venue. This begins from first entrance into the welcome area, extends into the presentation theatre, and into networking and exhibition areas. It’s a great-looking interface, even more so when decked out with your branding and logos.

The virtual events user experience depends on a cohesive environment

Your virtual event might involve a variety of main sessions – as well as multiple breakout sessions too. Given that each will have its own content and presenters, the beauty of a virtual event is that everything is integrated. All your sessions are effectively in one branded container. Whether you’re planning an awards-based event, a team-building event, or a conference, there’s a place for everything and everything has its place. Users very quickly become familiar with the event layout: how to enter sessions, how to find the right track, how to get to exhibition stands, and how to download content. It’s a familiar experience throughout.

Everything’s contained and retained

Not only will your event work as a seamless live experience – it will also work on-demand too. This is ideal in case where a user has attended one session, but missed another. It’s also helpful where they want to revisit a session and catch-up on an important part of the presentation. Not only are all your sessions contained in one event set-up they’re retained there too. And readily available, with all the meeting resources and materials as provided, and any personal notes they made.

Being able to watch recordings at any later time is particularly useful if you have attendees that are geographically spread out. You might show one session live for those in Asia, but then replay it at a set time to better suit an audience in EMEA or the Americas. Or simply make it available to watch on-demand.  In this way, you – and all your attendees – have a wonderful living archive of your event. And no need to hunt through lots of links to past meetings in your calendar. The virtual events user experience takes that pain out of the game.

Your attendees gain from a focused environment

Many event organizers would agree that the toughest part of arranging conference or trade show is getting people to the door. There can be so many competing demands and distractions. It’s why some organizers avoid holding events in Vegas! In a similar way, email invites to scores of video meetings can mean a disappointing level of no-shows and drop-outs. As people leave one session and contemplate another, they can get distracted by competing demands outside the event environment. It’s why the ‘container’ concept works so well. Your users are embraced and engaged within the event experience.

We ensure you get the virtual events user experience just right

A virtual event differs from an in-person event in many ways. One is that you are likely to be just logging in from your home environment, without having travelled to be there. This does mean that instead of having an exclusive on attendees’ time, you may just have part of their attention. It’s why we assign our virtual event production experts to assist you with your project. Having run hundreds of events, they are at your service to help you follow best practices – and create the ideal user experience. For example, if you’ve got 16 hours of presentations, they may suggest running them as four four-hour days, not two eight-hour days. This may offer a better experience: avoiding too long a virtual day ‘at’ your event and allowing users time to attend to other matters.

Encouraging user interaction and involvement

Your event can be – and should be – so much more than just a series of one-to-many broadcasts. It can offer socializing and networking opportunities too. It may not quite be the in-person experience we know and love, but it can be remarkably effective. Each attendee can have their own vCard (or VCF; a virtual contact file). It’s a great way to enable conversations to begin, whether with other attendees, keynote presenters or event exhibitors. They can then share this – with profile and contact details with others as they wish. You can allow group chats in breakout sessions, or private chats between attendees. It also enables – quite unlike a real-world event – participants to chat during a keynote presentation, commenting on proceedings or sharing ideas. An added bonus for many.

The user experience reflects the care and respect you have for your attendees

In conclusion, if you’re keen on providing a great user experience, a virtual event – as opposed to a collection of video meetings – does just that. It presents that extra layer of professionalism, showing care and respect for your attendees. You’ll meet their expectations of what a top-level event should be like and provide them with continuity and a seamless experience.

Whether an internal or external audience, you’re signalling that you’re creating a great experience for them. And it will pay off for you too because by improving the virtual events user experience, you’ll benefit from greater traction and engagement, attendance and interaction.

About the author

Maribeth is the Global Marketing Director for Digital Events at the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd. She has broad experience in business communication technologies, contributing through her career in product management, sales consulting, and marketing roles. Maribeth is passionate about collaborating with diverse and international teams to promote the benefits and value of virtual event solutions.

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