In the world of event planning, one thing is certain – a great team is the key to success. From vendors and volunteers to the ones coordinating the behind-the-scenes action, having the right people with the right skills can make or break an event. However, in today’s fast-paced world, traditional onsite staff isn’t always the best option. Hiring virtual hosts and diversifying your staffing strategy can streamline your event operations and provide new opportunities to engage with attendees.
As many companies have gone remote, so too have event teams. Virtual hosts, also known as virtual event emcees or moderators, are the digital equivalent of an onsite host or MC. They keep the audience engaged and act as a guide throughout the event while managing the technical aspects of interactive virtual events. They’ve become more popular because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re likely here to stay. In this article, we’ll explore ways that virtual hosts can be used alongside onsite support to create a more diverse event staffing strategy.
What Are Virtual Hosts?
Virtual hosts are individuals who facilitate digital events and are hired to introduce speakers, transition between presentations, and provide introductory remarks. They’re responsible for keeping attendees engaged, promoting interactivity, and leaving lasting impressions. Essentially, they’re the equivalent of an MC at a live event.
Virtual hosts require solid technical skills to manage the digital aspects of an event such as handling the chat feature, coordinating polls, and making sure that the overall experience runs smoothly. They need strong communication skills to keep up a lively and entertaining tone and are often responsible for injecting some personality into the proceedings. Most importantly, they need to be well-versed in the topics being discussed in order to keep the audience engaged and to transition between speakers and segments more smoothly.
Advantages of Using Virtual Hosts
There are several benefits to using virtual hosts alongside onsite support staff. Here are some of the key advantages:
1. Increased engagement
Virtual hosts can help to increase engagement amongst event attendees by keeping them involved, often through gamification, quizzes, and polls. By introducing interactive features, they make attending an online event more fun for the audience.
Using virtual hosts is often more cost-effective than hiring additional onsite staff to manage events. Plus, the fact that virtual hosts work remotely means that you don’t have to pay for their travel expenses, such as airfare or accommodation.
3. Technical Savvy
Virtual hosts have extensive technical expertise that onsite workers may not. They often operate online platforms, and proactively manage the different software and hardware that comprise virtual tech stack to ensure the shows are seamless, interactive, and error-free.
By opening up your event to virtual hosts from different locations and backgrounds, you can diversify your staffing pool and offer a more diverse event experience. It’s a step towards embracing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at events.
Virtual hosts can work from anywhere, at any time. As such, they provide great flexibility when it comes to organising an event. You could have them working in different countries or time zones, or simply arrange for them to work a few hours each day, depending on availability.
Diversifying Your Staffing Strategy
Diversifying your event staffing strategy by incorporating virtual hosts can provide a range of benefits. However, it’s important to note that this shouldn’t be a complete replacement for conventional onsite staff. Instead, it should be used as a complement to them to create a hybrid event experience. Here are some tips to help you get started with a diversifying your staffing strategy:
– Plan your event well in advance: Start by assessing what kind of staffing needs you have for your event. This will help you plan your staff requirements, and whether you need to bring in extra staff for virtual support.
– Define the roles of your staff: You need a clear vision of what you want each of your virtual and on-site staff to do. This will help you evaluate who should be staffed remotely and who should be on-site.
– Invest in training: Even if your virtual hosts are experienced and tech-savvy, it’s critical to have them undergo training to ensure that they’re on the same page as you. You want to make sure they are familiar with the tone, vibe, and messaging that you want to convey during the event.
– Utilize the latest technology: Consider all the latest technology available that may help your virtual staff do their job more effectively. This includes software such as Slack, Zoom, and Asana. The tech stack can help you and your virtual crew make real-time decisions and accommodate changes as necessary.
– Consider cultural differences: If your event attendees come from diverse backgrounds, it’s a good idea to have virtual hosts who are fluent in the languages and customs of these different cultures. This will ensure that all attendees are made to feel welcome, regardless of their cultural background.
– Integrate remote work culture: Successfully implementing remote workers requires a combination of a remote work-friendly culture and the right technology. The use of video conferencing, cloud computing, and project management software provides remote workers with the tools they need to integrate effectively into a hybrid event environment.
The Bottom Line
Events are all about providing a positive experience for attendees, regardless of whether they’re in-person or virtual. Diversifying your staffing strategy by incorporating virtual hosts alongside onsite employees is a great way to achieve this. By doing so, you can increase audience engagement, keep costs down, and create a more diverse event experience. To make sure it works as smoothly as possible, it’s important to put in place clear goals, planning, training and communication that takes into account both digital and on-site staff.
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