“Ideas worth spreading.” That simple thought, born from the first TED conference in 1984, sparked a worldwide movement committed to the passionate sharing of ideas through deep discussion and community engagement. Now, thousands of grassroots organizations host their own TEDx events in cities around the world.
Live events have always been instrumental to TEDx, but with the global outbreak of COVID-19, organizers had to pivot quickly from traditional in-person events to virtual events while keeping the interactive nature of TEDx alive. TEDxMelbourne, a self-organized, volunteer-led TEDx event, turned to Zoom to keep its audience engaged, even on a virtual platform.
Jon Yeo, TEDxMelbourne’s organizer, described why Zoom is a valuable solution for hosting online events and shared some of his best practices for creating engaging, frictionless, interactive virtual experiences.
Benefits of Zoom for virtual events
When COVID-19 hit, Yeo focused on finding a video communications solution that could provide an accessible, engaging, scalable event experience.
“In terms of platforms, we evaluated a lot of different solutions based on risk, accessibility, familiarity with the audience, ease of use, and things like what features they had and which ones were important to us,” Yeo said.
The TEDxMelbourne team decided to implement Zoom based on its ability to provide a well-rounded virtual event experience through:
- A robust feature set: “The breakout [rooms] feature that Zoom offers was one of the differentiating factors that led to us choosing Zoom. It really allows us to create opportunities for audience engagement and participation.”
- Growth-ready scalability: “Zoom’s plan layout allows you to scale each of the different plan offerings, and we were able to scale up our use of the platform relatively easily.”
- Valuable user metrics: “We can collect a lot of data about our participants behavior, such as how many people showed up, when they left, and when they are most engaged, which helps us create a better experience.”
- Constant innovation: “Zoom is able to develop and incorporate features over a very short period of time. And as an innovative organization, we decided to go with the most innovative platform.”
Tips for creating a seamless event experience
Over the past few months, Yeo has learned a number of important lessons about hosting an effective virtual event. Here are some of his best practices for hosting online events:
- Don’t try to recreate a physical event in a virtual space: “The number one rule is you cannot replicate the live experience virtually. Tech producers want to create a virtual stage and a virtual audience, but that technology takes up CPU cycles for the audience and it doesn’t add to the experience. No one needs to see a virtual stage.”
- Don’t shorten your event: “TED recommends the events go no longer than 45 minutes, but we have events that run for 90 minutes and we still have lots of attendees who stay for longer than that. The fallacy is that shorter is better. And it’s not true. These events are about designing an engaging experience for the audience, not keeping to a clock.”
- Change the visual elements frequently: “As much as possible, we don’t have any single thing happening for longer than 10 minutes. So if it’s a talking head, we keep them up for a maximum of 10 minutes. Then we’ll change into a visual or transition into an activity to keep the audience engaged.”
- Provide engaging visuals to complement the ideas: “We have a graphic recorder, which we spotlight every now and then just to break up the talking head. People can see the idea progressing in a visual format in real time. Not only does it create a nice post-event artifact, but it also makes for a nice speaker gift.”
To learn more about TEDxMelbourne and their online events, please visit the TEDxMelbourne home page.
To learn more about creating engaging online events with Zoom, visit Best Practices for Hosting a Digital Event.