Widening accessibility with virtual networking events

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By Paul Scholey, Senior VP International and GM, BlueJeans by Verizon

As restrictions ease over the summer, I’m certainly eager to get back into live events and networking. This past year, however, many events managers learned a valuable lesson: for some people virtual is the best – or only – option.

Virtual events give access to people who too often get left behind, including those experiencing disabilities, those in remote locations, and introverts. Others don’t go to events – or important parts of events, like keynotes – due to their roles or seniority, even though they can really benefit. Sometimes people just aren’t let past an event’s velvet rope. Be honest: would you have been able to watch the thrilling live test of Virgin Hyperloop, unless it was virtual?

Being locked out of networking opportunities not only put people with accessibility limitations at a professional disadvantage, it amplifies their isolation. Virtual networking benefits from being easy, time-efficient, inexpensive, and above all, safe. It also lets people effortlessly expand their spheres of influence to people all over the world.

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Here are a few popular virtual event formats that you can run standalone or to complement live:

  • Networking webinar  – to make your webinar sparkle to stand out in the busy virtual crowd it pays off to invest extra care in designing your theme, agenda, and overall experience – and do build in space and time for networking. Check out our Virtual Events White Paper for more tips.
  • Breakout sessions – these are ideal for networking, with options such as scheduled discussions, group chat by topics, and private social media groups. Smaller breakout sessions strengthen connections and makes it more likely that conversations will continue after the event.
  • Teambuilding – online is surprisingly conducive to fun, shared activities like online cooking and cocktail-making classes! To ensure your event goes smoothly, be sure to send detailed notes on how to prepare.
  • Keynotes or Panel Discussions – Securing a big name will help you drive attendance and engage delegates – and now’s a great time do this as more speakers are available. Make sure your events platform has interactive tools such as Q&A, chat, polling, and hand-raising to encourage participation.

Check out our Virtual Event Resource Kit here for more top tips!

Which Platform?

Why not try out BlueJeans for your next event? In addition to immersive video, Q&A, polling, and multi-way idea exchanges, we also offer:

Dolby Sound

When networking virtually, audio is as important as video. People need to hear each other clearly, but also block out those noisy jackhammers tearing up the road! Theater-class audio by BlueJeans with Dolby Voice silences background noise while maintaining consistent volume across soft and loud talkers.

Stress-free Breakout Rooms

BlueJeans takes the drama out of virtual breakout theatres, by providing easy one-touch management. When sessions start, guests are automatically placed into rooms. Hosts can easily move between sessions. Once breakouts end, attendees have ten seconds to wrap up and return to the main meeting room.

To ensure your next event is as inclusive as it can be, why not click here to try BlueJeans Events free for 14 days – no risk, no credit card required!

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Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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