Online vs. Offline Events: What Changes and What Must Stay the Same

Online vs. Offline Events: What Changes and What Must Stay the Same | MCI Zürich | DE

May, 20 2020

Are offline and online event experiences at polar opposites? Or are there core rules that apply to both? We've asked ourselves these questions to delve into the digital shift happening in events and the fundamentals that remain the same.

Online, offline, online. Lately, we’ve all been debating whether in-person events are better than online events or whether online will replace offline for good. We’ve investigated why taking an already planned out event and just posting it on an online platform doesn’t work so well. We've wondered why, even with all the technology at our disposal, it remains hard to create meaningful experiences that resonate with your target audience.   

But whether it takes place live or virtually, we’re still talking about people, about human connections. And some rules always apply. Ney Neto, MCI Brazil’s Business Development & Innovation Director sheds some light on what needs to change and what cornerstones must remain the same. 

Online vs. Offline: what changes 

1.The learning experience 

One of the main reasons people take the time to attend events is the learning experience, the opportunity to get together with peers to educate themselves on new industry developments. While at live events or congresses it’s common to have longer session, in the online world the attention span is remarkably shorter. For this reason, the way you educate attendees must be thought of differently. Content is better assimilated if cut into shorter, more digestible bits, and even better if it can be made available on-demand once the event is over.  

2. The shorter attention span 

As mentioned, attention span is one of the most critical aspects of the online space. Why? Because the web is full of distractions – think how frequently we check emails and social media. What's more, now that everyone is working from home, the distractions are also all around us in the form of kids or house chores. That's why it is necessary to design an online event experience knowing that your audience won’t spend an hour in front of a screen like they would seating in a conference room. 

3. The human touch 

I recently read a quote from business tycoon Warren Buffet that struck me: “You will never see eye-to-eye, if you never meet face-to-face." The way you create and nurture relationships online will never be as effective as meeting people in real life, looking them in the eyes, shaking their hands. This is how you build trust and establish long-lasting business relationships. For this reason, I believe we will go back to meeting in-person – it's human nature. 

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Online vs. Offline: what stays the same

1. The need for customisation 

Festivalisation has been a huge trend in events for the past few years. At the bottom of it is the notion that an event that satisfies varied interests will enjoy higher engagement levels. Festivalisation is basically customisation. The attendees can choose what they want to consume and when. It's a festival – you do what you want at the time you want. Similarly, if you plan a virtual event with a tight agenda, you will probably lose the attendees’ interest. Events – whether they are held online or live – work best when they can be customised and personalised base on the single attendee’s needs. 

2. Active participation 

Gone are the times when attendees were content to sit, listen and take in information. Attendees are now looking for opportunities to actively participate and interact within the event context. Both online and offline, the audience is centre. Attending an event is a collective experience, so give participants the chance to talk, debate, and co-create the event. 

3. The value of time 

We all lead busy lives, and making people invest their time in attending an event has always been a challenge. When you ask a person to attend a live event or conference, you’re asking them to take a considerable amount of time out of their schedule to plan, travel to and finally attend your event. In spite of that, people still show up for the content, the human connection, the experience. Now that we’re all at home, and the boundaries between our personal and professional lives are getting blurrier, time still has a similar value. Either you offer something that is valuable and relevant, or your audience won’t show up. The point is still to create unforgettable experiences that will be a good use of their time. 

Are you interested in knowing more on how we can help you translate your live event content into a valuable and engaging online experience? Get in touch with us

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