The future of events is…Zoom? For those of us stricken with “Zoom fatigue,” this forecast may lack any appeal. Between virtual birthdays, family reunions and office happy hours, Americans have spent more than enough time looking at each other through tiny square-shaped boxes at the side of their screen.
Yet, event professionals have the opportunity to create visionary events and plan meetings that replicate the vibrancy and liveliness that existed in person while enjoying the flexibility and safety that a hybrid/online event provides. Here are the best ways to maximize the potential of virtual events and meetings.
Zoom Meetings vs. Webinars vs. Events
Propelled into the national spotlight in March 2020, Zoom quickly capitalized on the opportunity to be the frontrunner in the new era of virtual meetings and events. Now, with the options to host a regular meeting, a webinar, or a special event, it is easy to get confused about which platform is right for you. Here are the main characteristics for each platform and how to use them..
- Zoom Meetings: Can host up to 1,000 interactive participants, best used for collaboration, smaller meetings, office hours
- Zoom Webinar: Can host up to 50,000 view-only participants and 100 interactive panelists, best used for public events, panels, concerts and other single-session events.
- Zoom Events: Can host up to 50,000 people and combines the interactive tools of Zoom Meetings with features of Zoom Webinar and is best used for multi-day events with event hubs where companies can post former and future events.
New App Store
Zoom Marketplace offers more than 1,500 apps meant to enhance your Zoom experience and is the next big thing to elevate the virtual world. From Kahoot! to SurveyMonkey, popular apps and websites are creating versions of their product to easily work alongside Zoom and have made them available on the marketplace. Another example is Twine for Zoom-an app working to replicate the serendipitous nature of office chatter and networking.
“We believe that good conversations between strangers online can happen if they’re well curated, there’s structure around it, a timer so you know when the conversation is going to end and you are going to get moved to the next conversation, as well as being strategic on who you pair people with,” said Anh Nguyen, the head of community engagement at Twine.
Virtual Fatigue…Fact or Fiction?
Nguyen discusses how “Zoom fatigue” is not specifically caused by Zoom at all. It is simply a problem with virtual events missing the design and production aspect of TV and video games. The best way to combat virtual fatigue is to engage your audience and create something exciting and interactive. Whether that be through virtual networking on Twine or other marketplace apps, event professionals and app developers alike are constantly discovering new ways to transform the virtual world into something energizing and stimulating.
“Are you engaging people in different ways that they relate to versus just taking a speaker and putting them in a zoom and having them talk at you? That is what contributes more to Zoom fatigue than the actual technology,” Nguyen said.
Read more: The Antidote for Zoom Fatigue
With the options for participants to switch between breakout rooms, use icebreaker conversation prompts, with virtual backgrounds and more, event professionals have the opportunity to get creative in a new but prospering industry.
“I would say to the event planners, we are still in the correcting phase of finding where we are going to land on this pendulum. We went super virtual and then we are flying all the way back to the in-person side and I think the pendulum will settle somewhere in the middle. But I would advise people to not put too much into their reaction of what is happening right now,” Nguyen said.
As the virtual world grows, other companies are attempting to rival the success that Zoom has achieved. One of these companies is Livestorm, a video engagement platform that allows people to manage their meetings and webinars. They recently announced a handful of new features to amplify engagement including breakout rooms, an extensive virtual background library, a timer app and more.
One standout feature is called Slido, which provides the opportunity for polls and questions and helps to enhance free-flowing conversation. Livestorm works to capitalize on some of the issues presented with Zoom. They have the option to limit registrations to business-only emails, automate webinars and other ways that paint them as a strong competitor.