Welcome to your virtual event production guide for 2020 and beyond. Discover what AV production looks like for a virtual event, why you might want AV support, and how to align with your AV team.
What Is Virtual Event AV Production?
Virtual Event Production refers to the audiovisual (AV) production and technology services used to produce a virtual or in-person event. While in-person events require a special type of AV production, virtual events require their own skillset. Typically virtual event production can include services, equipment, training, and personnel with the expertise needed to provide an exceptional audiovisual experience for your events.
Why Should You Invest in Virtual Event AV Production?
Whether you are producing an in-person event, virtual event, or hybrid event—the audiovisual equipment and resources enhance the attendee experience, speaker experience, and help support the behind-the-scenes team that is running the event.
At the end of the day, virtual events are often held to a higher standard by both organizers and event attendees. As Aleksandra Panyukhina writes in this guide to virtual event differentiation, there are more virtual events now than ever before. On the one hand, this means that audiences are primed and ready to jump into virtual experiences. On the other hand, this also means that the bar for virtual experiences has been raised.
Attendees expect crisp sound, sharp video, and any number of media flourishes that help drive your message and make for a uniquely engaging virtual experience.
Keep in mind that virtual events are complex. They include multiple sessions, speakers, and tracks that are broadcast live or on-demand—and they require the facilitation of a variety of ways for your attendees can engage with event content.
While virtual events are an exciting arena that can be enhanced by virtual event production, certain types of events like casual virtual happy hours, lo-fi one-on-one discussions, or internal meetings may not require the additional production lift. Speak with your team about your event goals to determine if investing in a virtual event AV production team is the right fit for you.
Two Popular Misconceptions About Virtual Events and AV Production
Before diving into the guide, let’s review a couple of misconceptions about virtual events and AV production.
First, there is the misconception that because virtual events tend to be less expensive to produce than in-person events, there isn’t a need to invest in high-quality event production. This is a common mistake for first-time virtual event organizers.
While virtual events overall may be less expensive to produce, they are still held to high quality standards from both attendees and event organizers as virtual events become more commonplace.
Second, as virtual event production surges in 2020, the distinction between webinars and virtual events has become more defined. With so many virtual events happening, and with virtual events tending to last longer than webinars, attendees have little tolerance for poorly produced events and may lose interest very quickly. A fully produced event helps keep the audience engaged and provide highly impactful broadcast quality experiences.
Virtual events can be likened to broadcast television and streaming shows. Unlike webinars that last between 30 minutes to an hour, broadcast television and streaming television prioritize both quality content and production. This means putting resources to high-value audio, visual, and effects that help keep viewers engaged in the content.
For more information on the difference between webinars and virtual events, check out the Going Hybrid Ebook.
The AV Production Guide for Virtual Events
We’ve discussed what AV production is, why it’s valuable, and some common misconceptions about virtual events and AV production. Now, we can discuss how you can evaluate your AV production needs based on your virtual event goals as well as how to procure those resources.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- When You Should Consider AV Production
- AV Production Services and Resources
- Budget Considerations for AV Production
- Tips for Getting Started with AV Production Teams
When You Should Consider AV Production
There are many benefits to including AV production team in your next virtual event. Partnering with an AV production service can be a huge lift for resource-strapped teams, it can enrich the speaker experience when onboarding, rehearsing, and broadcasting speakers and their content, and it can provide a smoother, engaging, and better branded experience for your attendees.
Here are 5 instances where you'd want to seriously consider including AV production resources:
- When your in-house team has limited time and/or resources
- When you want to deliver a broadcast-level experience to your attendees
- When a virtual event includes VIP speakers or a higher numbers of speakers
- When your event includes more than two sessions
- When an event requires multiple technical elements such as background music, pre-recorded video, or visual transitions
If your event meets any of the above criteria, you may want to consider investing in AV.
Below is an example of how we at Bizzabo leveraged an AV production team to deliver a well-branded keynote presentation by our CEO Eran Ben-Shushan.
Check out the session recordings from (Almost) IN-PERSON, our first-ever virtual event, for more examples of how an AV team can elevate your virtual event experience.
AV Production Services and Resources
There are a variety of services and resources available under the larger branch of virtual event AV services and technology. Here are some relevant services and resources to be on the look-out for when evaluating virtual event AV teams.
Live Event Support
Live event support can include real-time technical support for your team and your attendees, a professional event moderator to help with your sessions and speakers, playing pre-recorded videos day of, and more.
Pre-Event Preparation and Training
Pre-event preparation can include a number of onboarding activities like speaker and moderator training, audio & visual best practices, and alignment on the run-of-show. It should also include more technical aspects like pre-event technical reviews, network & system configuring, content preparation, and rehearsals.
Streaming Recorded Event Sessions
If you're planning to get more out of your virtual event by offering sessions on-demand once the event is over, an AV production team can help. Many virtual experience solutions offer the ability to record virtual sessions but AV production teams can also support recording, editing (in case you'd like to adjust how your session recording lives on in perpetuity), and streaming on-demand content for once the event is over.
Fully Produced Virtual Event Sessions with Live and Recorded Content
A fully produced virtual event requires a comprehensive approach to managing all pre-event, day-of, and post-event production needs. For example, you may want to include different technical elements like sponsor or advertising inserts, slides, lower thirds, remote camera set-up and operation, video conferencing feeds, and customer composites. Do some of those terms sounds like gobbledygook to you? Here again, a virtual AV team can be huge.
Budget Considerations for AV Production
A big question for event organizers running virtual events is, “how much should I expect to budget for an AV production team?”
Rightfully so, event budgeting is a pretty big deal.
There are a couple of steps to consider when determining how much to allocate towards AV production at your virtual event.
First, you can determine your AV production needs based on the following questions:
- How many days do you expect your virtual event to last?
- How long is each day of your virtual event?
- Are there concurrent tracks for each or any of those days?
- How hands-on would you like your AV production team to be before and/or during the day of the event?
Once you’ve determined the size and scope of your event, you'll have a better idea of how much to allocate in terms of time, resources, and budget for AV services.
You can then design a budgeting matrix to understand where you want to allocate resources towards different components of your virtual event. We created a simple version below as an example.
Before you scroll down to the matrix, take a second to review the budgetary buckets that we're considering:
Virtual Event Technology
A virtual event solution that aligns to your event goals will be one of the most important investments you make when creating your virtual event budget. You’ll want to consider how your virtual event technology fits into your existing event and marketing technology, the experience for both speakers and attendees, as well as the data captured during your event. Your event goals should align with technology capabilities.
AV Production and Services
Ok. This is the meat and potatoes of what we're talking about in this post. As we've already discussed (unless you're just skimming through this post, which is totally fine!), a virtual event AV production team is a crucial investment that can help elevate the attendee experience and streamline the behind-the-scenes operations. When it comes to budgetary items, you'll want to earmark some funds for AV personnel, equipment, or both depending on your needs.
Speaker Fees and Speaker Gifts
While onsite resources are less important for virtual events, speaker fees may still prove relevant. This includes any speaker fees, gifts, or resources needed to book speakers for your virtual event.
Here is an example budget for a virtual event with 12 speakers and 10,000 attendees.
|Virtual Event Solution||$12,000.00||1||$12,000.00||Virtual Event Vendor||Estimated 8,000 Attendees|
|Virtual Event Production Team||$11,000.00||1||$11,000.00||AV Production Service|
|AV Production Equipment||$4,000.00||1||$4,000.00||AV Production Rental||Includes camera and microphones offsite|
|Keynote Speaker Fee||$5,000.00||1||$5,000.00||N/A|
|Session Speaker Fee||$0.00||12||$0.00||N/A|
|Speaker Gift||$150.00||12||$1,800.00||Corporate Gift Account|
Overall, we expect virtual event costs to mimic in-person costs with a reduced price tag on personnel fees, venue fees, and F&B fees. However, in place of those typical in-person event line items, equipment is more important than event. Event sessions will require more technical support including video recording and editing resources, which should be a high priority when producing a high-quality event.
Tips for Getting Started with AV Production Teams
Here are three simple ways to get started when partnering with an AV production team for a virtual event. For additional details, check out how we launched our first-ever virtual summit.
1. Understand the size and scope of the virtual event you’re looking to launch by creating an AV production schedule (like the one found in our Virtual Event Production Kit). This schedule will help you determine your needs and will also serve as the roadmap for your production team.
2. Start discussions early with your AV production team. There's a good chance you'll need to rehearse with them at least once (and potentially multiple times) to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch.
3. We also recommend establishing an open line of communication with your AV team through a chat application like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or WhatsApp. This can help facilitate questions before the event but is also very helpful for keeping tabs on what's going on during the event day.
That's it - now let's move onto the main takeaways from this guide.
Key Takeaways: Embracing Virtual Event Production
Virtual events are unique in that they are able to reach a broader audience than in-person events. But they also come with a heap of logistical processes and expertise that are outside of the traditional event marketers toolset. Fortunately, virtual AV production services are there to help event marketers bring high-quality experiences to life.
To get started with virtual event production, keep in mind a few things:
- Consider AV production when a virtual event needs additional resources, includes a large audience or a large number or speakers, or if your event requires multiple technical elements for a proper event execution.
- Educate your team on the variety of AV production services and resources to align your needs with your virtual event goals.
- Incorporate your budget considerations for AV production in your larger event and marketing resources by breaking down the prices of each line item.
- Arm yourself with a few best practices to get the most out of your AV production teams.
Access more resources for launching your virtual event below.