Digital event held on 21 April 2022
We were asked by our client BioSense Webster to help them deliver a powerful and effective digital meeting to a global audience of employees. They asked that it not only communicate their message but also inspire, motivate and be memorable for the coming year, and we had to deliver all of this in just over six weeks – no small task.
Thankfully, our clients Patrick and Callie were so easy to work with – not only were they able to provide a clear and concise brief, but were brave enough to trust us, and our process, helping to create a collaborative environment that allowed every member of our team to shine.
We began the process by clearly defining the purpose of the project: what impact the meeting should have, and why it mattered. How did they want their audience to feel and act after the meeting? What behaviours did they want to influence?
Once the purpose was defined, and the core message identified, next we needed to agree on the tone of the meeting: it was decided it should be fun, exciting, inspiring and memorable – not words that are often associated with long, instructional PowerPoint presentations. All of this was turned into a mission statement for the project. This is something that is often passed over, perhaps because it is time consuming and seen as not being worthwhile. However, from our experience, we know that when done correctly, a mission statement can help with every stage of the process, giving everyone involved a well defined and articulated document that acts as a guide for the whole project.
In 2015, a study commissioned by Microsoft and reported in Time magazine found that the average attention span had dropped to around 8 seconds. With this in mind we knew we had to provide the most engaging experience possible, to capture the participants’ attention and stop them from clicking away. A great session does not just capture the speaker’s message – it elevates it, transforms it, and translates it into something memorable.
To quote Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In a real-world meeting we have a physical location with all of its sounds and atmosphere, body language and other cues that prepare both the presenters and audience to share and receive information. With a virtual meeting we do not have any of these cues, and so we need to grab the audience’s attention from the first second, and ideally before the meeting has even begun, to heighten their expectation. Knowing this allowed us to design an experience for the participants that went beyond a typical presentation. We knew we had to connect with the audience before, during, and after the live event. Everything had to be meticulously planned to tell a story and convey our client’s message.
With all of this in mind, we decided to build on an idea that our client had used a year earlier, but this time we really turned up the volume on the core message… quite literally.
We worked with Webcast-Studio Basel, who provided a fully equipped TV studio and a crew that would help create a visually interesting show for our participants, ensuring they remained engaged. With their help we were able to bring the meeting to life as well as making the event interactive for all five-hundred participants, any of whom could be brought on-screen to share their voice (and image). This would be an essential element, ensuring the audience was kept involved throughout the meeting.
With the visual appearance taken care of, we needed a powerful way to present the key messages and support the keynote presenters. For this, we partnered with Song Division, a global provider of interactive musical experiences for meetings and events, to deliver a powerful message through the medium of music.
Song Division work only with professional musicians who have played with some of the biggest names in the business (Ed Sheeran, Florence and the Machine, to name just two!) The idea was to create a musical summary of the meeting, connecting key messages with music, which we know increases the ability to improve recall. It also allowed us to introduce an element of fun – yes fun – to the meeting. (Side note, did you know that when we laugh, the chemical reaction in the brain is the biological equivalent of pressing save when writing a document!).
The meeting was structured like a TV talk show. We worked with the communications team of Biosense Webster as well as the hosts and musicians to carefully plan the presentations, and enhance the core message.
During the planning we provided regular updates to the presenters, ensuring that the production would be in a style that they would be comfortable delivering. This was very important – it was vital that they came across as natural and relaxed. I’ve seen what happens when a presenter is asked to do or say something in a style that isn’t compatible with their own personality, and the result is never good.
The presenters were the key to the delivery but were only one part of the production. Plenty of rehearsal time was also factored into the schedule, providing time to hone the message and to ensure that the technical crew were familiar with the sequences and camera changes we would use to add a dynamic visual element for the viewers. Often the importance of rehearsals is underestimated, but they can bring a sense of calm to everyone involved as well as giving the opportunity to identify areas that need improvement, to tune key messages and reduce nerves and anxiety levels.
The meeting was broadcast live to a global audience of around five-hundred participants over two afternoons. We found participants were engaged and involved throughout the entire meeting, with very few ‘dropping out’ – which was a measure of the meeting’s success and the feeling of connection that was achieved. Not bad if the average attention span has really dropped to around eight seconds!
Whilst this meeting was delivered via a digital platform, the planning that went into the production and delivery was no different from that of a live event, with a clear purpose and intended impact agreed on from the beginning.
A well thought out programme leads participants on a journey, and never leaves them wondering what one session has to do with another. The presenters were well rehearsed and prepared and worked closely with the technicians. Furthermore, by using storytelling and music, they ensured that the message was clearly delivered and understandable. A lot of preparation and work went into this project, but if people are giving their valuable time to attend such a meeting, they deserve no less.
Author: Jeff Bateman CMP, Head of Strategic Communication
“Hi Jeff, and Mike,
Kudos once again for a fantastic event! This time I could be a participant and it came across very well. Slick, professional and the highest quality!”
Commercial Effectiveness Director
EMEA Regional Office