Most marketers know virtual events are essential. They also know virtual events are hard. Things go wrong. Guests go rogue. Mics go down. But while everyone’s happy to talk about their webinar wins, the anxiety-inducing reality of running a webinar rarely gets discussed.
Vimeo Events is a simple-yet-mighty platform that helps anyone run an engaging and impactful virtual event. Crucially, it was built to make webinar disasters a thing of the past. To celebrate its launch, we decided to celebrate those webinar mishaps, when everything seems to fall apart. We put out an open call for horror stories — and were inundated with responses, from jaw-dropping tech fails to cringe-worthy communications issues.
To share these with the world — but protect the identities of the real marketers who submitted them — we retold four of the best using actors as part of a Webinar Support Group.
Watch them below, and read on to get expert tips from our Webinar Confessionals panel to make sure you’re not in next year’s list of virtual event mishaps….
Is this thing off?
This nightmare of awol audio never would have happened with Vimeo Events because… We make it super easy to run as-live tech rehearsals, checking both hardware and software to head off potential issues way ahead of time.
This pre-flight failure never would have happened with Vimeo Events because… We’ve designed a tool to seamlessly integrate live and pre-recorded content. Pre-record guest segments and remove any stress about where they might be on the day of your event.
CMO gone wild
This cringe-y calamity never would have happened with Vimeo Events because… We have clearly labeled public and private chat facilities, and it’s easy to moderate our public chat to remove any rogue additions before anyone even notices.
This embarrassing incident never would have happened with Vimeo Events because… The Vimeo Events set-up makes it very clear what’s being broadcast and when, and tees up speakers to know when they’re about to be sent live. (Also, facial egg rolling isn’t really a widespread thing. Thank goodness.)
Webinar wisdom from people who’ve been there
These films launched at our Webinar Confessionals event in December 2021. You can watch the whole thing again above, but we’ve also picked out six key tips from our panel — marketing influencer Katie Martell, Pinterest’s Experiential Lead Sean Doyle and Vimeo’s Director of International Marketing Preethi Sundaram.
1. Think creatively to drive attendance
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is getting sign-ups to show up for a virtual event. Preethi always likes seeing who else is going to be there in the audience, while Sean Doyle has had success using cut-downs of pre-recorded content as cliffhangers to drive interest and anticipation.
2. The event is much more than just the event
“We shouldn’t just see the live portion as the event – there are multiple touch points before, during, and after the event we need to think about,” Preethi says. Think of each event as a mini campaign, and plan everything from the first registration emails through to the follow-up content.
3. Go deep on your speaker prep
“You really need to do your research in advance – don’t just base it on someone’s perceived profile,” Sean says. “Find videos of them speaking online if you can; even better find a colleague who’s met them or seen them present and can give you an honest review.”
Be very clear in setting out what you’re going to need in terms of time commitment and be wary of people who seem evasive, Preethi adds. “I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard guests say, ‘I don’t need a tech run. I’ve done loads of webinars before. I’ve got this.’ Always do the dry run. Do two if you can. I can’t stress that enough.”
4. There’s no such thing as over-communication
One of the stresses of events is keeping everyone in your organization in the loop, even if they don’t seem to be that interested.
“Three months before an event, nobody cares about the event,” Preethi explains. “Two months before an event, nobody cares about the event. Three days before the event, suddenly everyone wants in on it, so you need to keep everyone up to speed. It might seem tedious, but every two weeks send an update email about your event and cc every exec in the company.”
5. Bring an audience into the dry run
“I like to get people in the company to participate in the dry run as a fake audience,” Preethi says. “That’s always helped me because we can get feedback on how it’s coming across, the sound, the lighting, everything.”
6. Push the envelope
“People still have an appetite for these events even if it’s not what it was at the start of lockdown,” Sean explains. “So as marketers, how can we format these sessions to be more snackable, more engaging, more shareable?”
Katie agrees. “We have to keep experimenting – there is a world of unknowns, and I love to push the boundaries of what a virtual event can be. We’ve all got the same technology, the same tools as everyone else, so who wins is who can be the most creative with it. I think it’s all about the audience experience.”