Updated: Sep 2, 2020
We all know that 2020 came out swinging. The event industry has taken hit after hit due to Covid-19 and the Global Pandemic that we are experiencing. Every event planner, film producer, caterer, DJ, venue owner and sound engineer has had to pivot in business to ensure the world continues to be entertained. So, what has the event and entertainment world resulted to? Virtual Events.
Virtual events are not new but are definitely flourishing in 2020. We have seen basic zoom and Instagram events changed to elaborate virtual productions for the likes of millions. With the need to shake off the mental stress that we are all dealing with due to Covid, the rising awareness of systemic racism, and the upcoming political election, I think it is safe to say that these events are truly supporting our mental health right now.
Recently I had the opportunity to review a virtual production, The Stellar Awards, a Gospel Music Awards production honoring gospel music artists. I am going to process with you my experience as a viewer while sharing my thoughts as an event producer. If you watched it, share your thoughts with me!
Hosted by Gospel artists Kirk Franklin, Koryn Hawthorne and Jonathan McReynolds, the Stellar Gospel Music Awards did not disappoint, but was definitely a different vibe for the viewers. The show production was impressive from start to finish, but as a viewer the absence of the audience interaction and noise that you typically experience watching the show live was noticeably missed.
Although audience engagement can play a major role in production, it is undeniable the hosts did a great job introducing each category and artists performance while continuing to interact with one another to the greatest extent possible. But what stood out the most were the actual performances. Virtual productions that easily cut away to performances play like movies, and are seamless for the viewer. I was able able to follow and find excitement about experiencing each artist perform. I think the best part of their performances were the quality of the videos. In contrast, I again missed the audience interaction with the artist performance. Though I truly enjoyed the videos I definitely missed seeing artists walk down to the audience and be more free to ad-lib or invite other audience members to perform. To be honest as a viewer the entire virtual show was exceptionally produced, but it was challenging to stay connected.
Now let me share our thoughts from an event producer perspective!
Well Done! The production was well organized, well thought out and well produced. Kudos to the production team and the executive director, Don Jackson. We absolutely admired how they maintained the quality of hosts and incorporated them in the video packages. The production was seamless. Each category was introduced and followed by a performance which were all songs that were timely and appropriate for what we are experiencing today. The great gesture that producers shared was hope and love. As a producer, I was able to see how the production was organized to tell a story without losing focus of the event goals. The quick changes in video packages and taking advantage of the virtual platform to showcase front line workers and others in the community were great. Another area of greatness that I recognize was their efforts to provide a Stellar Pin to front line workers. However, in this instance, I believe that the production missed its mark. There was not enough focus as to why the gift or pin was provided. Had they shown a quick package of each hero who received the gifts opening them, they would have provided excitement for the viewer.
The major issues with all virtual events is maintaining interest in the full production. As an overall review of the Stellar Awards, the production was well organized and executed. Like all productions pivoting from live to full virtual, audience engagement was the biggest issue that went noticed. The production team did a great job ensuring the packages were edited well and the host worked to maintain interest.
Virtual events and productions we see are the new majority standard for our industry. We have to continue to learn and develop ways to entertain audiences and ensure that it is uniform. I would take note here that Event Technology is the next big wave in our industry.
In my new E-book, 7 Ways to Plan, Deliver and Profit with virtual events processes tips and strategies to ensure a well produced, engaging and profitable virtual event.
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