Normalising Virtual & Hybrid Events with Mike Piddock
If you’re looking for a virtual, hybrid and in-person meetings software that maximises audience engagement, retention and monetisation, then don’t miss this latest episode of The Melting Pot, with Mike Piddock, founder and CEO of Glisser, the award-winning audience engagement software.
Just over a year ago, Mike’s original platform was all about how to drive interactivity in a physical meeting, but like a lot of companies, with physical meetings reducing to zero, he’s had to pivot.
Now Glisser is a hybrid events platform.
But how do you run an amazing virtual event? How do you make a virtual event as good as it can be? And in a world where hybrid or blended is the future of events, how can you take in-person visitors to an event and blend them seamlessly with people who are coming in virtually?
“I think the most common driver bringing prospective clients to us is that they want to go beyond the Zoom meeting, or they want to do more than just another team session.”
So if you’re a marketeer, or the CEO, thinking that you won’t ever get to run corporate events again, or you’re bored with Zoom meetings, or you want to spice up your internal training by turning it into amazing, interactive, responsive virtual training for your organisation, don’t miss this great conversation with Mike.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
On today’s podcast:
- Glisser – a virtual and hybrid events platform
- The four Rs of event training
- The hybrid training scenario
- Mental health and remote working
- Difference between live event and content
- The premier league football analogy
Taking Events Virtual with Mike Piddock
Mike Piddock is the founder and CEO of Glisser, an award-winning virtual and hybrid event hosting platform, used by the biggest names in business, education, venues, and training, with clients including Facebook, Uber, Informa, etc.Venues, and others.
This time last year, Glisser’s technology to run virtual and hybrid events was a tiny aspect of their business. Fast forward to 2021, and it’s their whole business.
“For the five years up till COVID, we were an audience engagement technology for physical events. We had some customers that were running virtual and hybrid events. So we would build that technology, but it was a fraction of our core business.”
So have clients been seeing the benefits of virtual events?
Yes, says Mike, the important thing is to go back to why clients want to run the event in the first place, to establish their objectives for the meeting, and from there you can deliver for the client.
“And there’s definitely some bits that are lost, some elements that you can’t recreate virtually. But you know, essentially many events, the core objective of that event can still be delivered virtually.”
But which parts can’t be replicated?
Networking, says Mike. Serendipitous meetings are reduced to virtually zero, simply because you’re all online. There’s no bumping into someone in the queue for coffee and hitting it off. But that’s not to say it’s impossible.
“I think that [networking] is hard to recreate in a virtual environment, you can certainly network, I mean, social networks have existed for years now. So the principle of networking online is totally possible.”
However, so much of an event goes beyond simply meeting people, so find the easy bits to recreate and then plug in the extras, says Mike.
The four Rs of event training
When you’re running a virtual event, remember the four Rs you’re trying to achieve, says Mike.
- Revenue. Whether you’re running an event to generate revenue, to sell to people, or maybe you have lots of sponsors and you generate revenue from sponsorship. Don’t forget about making money.
- Relationships. Your event will bring people together, to connect them, it’s the networking piece and it’s all about building relationships.
- Reputation. This is about brand. Maybe you’re running an event to show how big you are, or to create a sense of excitement around a new product launch. Remember your reputation
- Recall. This is essentially communication. Even internal communication, training, perhaps run by the HR or comms team. It’s all about passing on knowledge.
Training is one of the easiest things to recreate virtually, says Mike. It’s one of the pieces they’ve had most success with.
“Because if you think about it, it’s very often content driven, there’s a requirement to analyse whether people are present, whether they’re paying attention…you can start to track those metrics. And once you’re capturing all of that data into a single place, so that the trainer can compare it week on week, session on session, you start to realise that something like training is very, very effective when it’s delivered virtually.”
And there’s always a budget for training, because who is going to stop training their staff? Just because they can’t come to the office, doesn’t mean they can’t learn at home.
“The point we always made was that we were [about] audience engagement and data gathering, pre-COVID.”
Hybrid training scenario
Mike says the corporate world should be anticipating a hybrid working scenario when the pandemic ends. We should be expecting a working environment where some people will be in the room, others will be online. Glisser aims to blend in-person learning with virtual learning, through the same platform.
“We’re starting to drop the term hybrid, even though we were probably the first to use it in April, when everyone else started talking about virtual, we were saying actually, the end game on this is hybrid, because the term we’re using now is blended.”
They’re very much advocating for a blended office environment for their own business, when they go back. As are a lot of companies.
“I think there was a bit of a fear amongst large corporations that people would start working from home and productivity would decline. They found that it hasn’t, it’s gone the other way and they want to retain that productivity while still keeping a sense of culture and community amongst the workforce.”
Hybrid events are therefore simply a natural progression from a hybrid office environment. People will still want to travel to conferences, but they can attend even more now, if they’re held online.
Creating something new
One thing people should be wary of when creating a virtual event, is not to try and replace the in person event, like for like. You should be aiming to create something that’s different, that’s better, that addresses things a different way.
“It’s less about just trying to move your physical event online and more about reformatting, redesigning it, doing things that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do because you’ve got a different media now.”
Also, if you’re organising a virtual event, there has to be an element of it that’s live, otherwise you’re just creating content. The whole point of an event is that you’re there. Whether that’s in a virtual space or real.
“If everything is pre-recorded video, you may as well just put it on YouTube and call it content. The live element is what defines it being a virtual event rather than a piece of media.”
It also has to be interactive.
“You’ve got to have the audience involved, participating, interacting with each other, interacting with the speakers, and the panellists, and so on. Because I think those two things go hand in hand. If you don’t get the audience involved, if you don’t have them do something, there’s absolutely no point in being live, they may as well have just gone to a piece of pre-recorded content.”
If you want to create something online, something representative of what you want to be, or you want to go beyond Zoom calls, or find a way to have team meetings that make you look better, more innovative, more interesting, if you want to find a way to make your audience more engaged than they’ve ever been on a Zoom call, Glisser is for you.
“I think that events will be largely hybrid in nature, where there will still be some physical component, but there’ll be a wide audience viewing online.”
And rather than worrying about a virtual event cannibalising your in-person event, when they happen again, think of the virtual event as enhancing it, as adding more, giving your audience more than they would simply by attending an in-person event.
“If you see it as two parts that are together, are much stronger than one on their own, then you stop worrying about the cannibalization issue.”