When was the last time you played some live music during a networking session at a virtual corporate event? If your answer is ‘never’ — and if the idea of featuring music at such events makes you apprehensive, then this article will convince you to think otherwise.
But before that, let’s briefly look back at the evolution of virtual events in the last two years.
Initially, when people were stuck at home during the pandemic and in-person events came to a halt, event planners were compelled to take on the digital route i.e., get started with hosting events virtually.
Gradually, virtual events took the centre stage in the events industry. One of the many reasons for this is the ability to replicate real-life event experiences in the virtual environment.
As event technology platforms disrupted the industry, event planners started adding engagement features in their virtual events which primarily included live chats, polls or quizzes.
And then arrived features on event platforms such as leaderboards, badges and more. Gamifying the event experience became less challenging as technology accelerated the production of high quality, interactive virtual events.
But then, many realised that virtual event fatigue cannot be overlooked. Sitting in front of digital screens for hours led to many virtual attendees feeling disconnected — and often distracted — from the event.
This is when it dawned upon event planners that as virtual events became pervasive and grabbing the attention of people online became challenging, it was necessary to amplify engagement through unique event experiences.
So what does it really take to set a virtual event apart and have attendees talk about it in their community?
In Episode 7 of Event Exchange, we sat down with Christo Alexander, Senior Executive Director of Planning & Development at SongDivision to know about
music-infused engagement at virtual events and how such strategies can help event planners stay miles ahead of the crowd.
And in this piece, we will tell you all about it.
What exactly are music-infused activities at virtual events?
The fundamental reason for incorporating engagement activities at any event is to get people to start a conversation and connect with each other.
When it comes to a virtual event, attendees are geographically distributed – meaning that the chances of the attendees knowing each other from before are meagre, unless they are from the same organisation or event community.
So, music-infused activities in virtual events act as a catalyst in connecting people and breaking the ice among strangers.
For instance, at a virtual team building event, using music-led activities like creating a team anthem or writing a song help both old and new employees of a company get to know each other better and build deeper relationships.
This in turn helps them to foster collaboration and teamwork.
Featuring such activities at virtual events also helps online attendees to actively participate while working towards a common mission.
The concept of event gamification – largely based on introducing game-like elements to events – has helped maximise event engagement in the last few years.
Along the same lines of building excitement and making the event more interesting, music-infused activities focus on breaking the barriers to engagement and help virtual event attendees keep off virtual fatigue and monotony.
However, what sets musical activities at virtual events apart from other forms of event gamification is the sheer fact that music has a universal appeal. So, no matter who your audience is, music-infused activities at events are inevitable to be disliked.
But how do you put such music-infused activities into action at your event?
Understanding the relevance of music-infused activities at events
While music-infused activities have the potential to entertain the virtual audience at large, it’s critical to also focus on the outcome of featuring such activities at the event.
Apart from the entertaining aspect of such activities, as an event planner, you should also assess if such activities are in line with your company’s overall business outcomes and the underlying purpose of the event.
For instance, if you are planning to host a virtual corporate townhall, then it would be relevant to include an activity that talks about how the company is working towards greater collaboration across different departments in the form of a song.
However, featuring a country song or playing music about driving sales at such an event would be irrelevant to your audience and the purpose of the event.
Simply put, to use a music-infused activity within a virtual event, the event planner needs to be clear about the overall objective of the event. This will help in deciding the type of activity that will complement and bring more depth to the event.
Talking about using relevant songs at virtual events, Christo Alexander says, “We work together with the team to create the sound, write the lyrics, and then our musical facilitators will take this information and put it together for the team and then we will all perform it together. So not only are they communicating the key messages but also talking about the company’s goals, vision and mission.”
How can music-infused activities generate ROI for sponsors?
For sponsors, it’s crucial to grab the attention of the attendees and get them to be curious about their brand.
Using music-infused activities at virtual events has the potential to not just garner the interest of the attendees, but also present information in a unique manner.
It’s not surprising that when you present information to your audience in the form of a song, it will get them to want to know more. This is a great opportunity for sponsors to put forth their brand and get considerable exposure.
Let’s consider a virtual career fair as an example. To provide additional value to the employers, you can get musicians or singers to compose a song about them and present it to the students.
Not only will this be a unique way to tell the students at the virtual career fair about the employers participating at the event, but it’s also likely that the students would remember the employers in the long run, or even be interested to get in touch with them later.
Music-infused activities at virtual events are thus a great way for the dissemination of information in a concise and memorable way.
But, it’s not just music-infused activities that have the ability to make your events more engaging. You can even hire musical MCs to intrigue your audience.
Who is a musical MC?
Unlike a conventional event MC, a musical MC or host knows how to drive event engagement by composing songs instantly to interact with your audience and speakers.
Pur simply, musical MCs are professionals who can turn words into songs and make the event fun and entertaining for your audience.
But why should you even consider musical MCs for your events?
For starters, musical MCs are experts at instantly taking requests for songs or any other content in the form of words and presenting it in a unique way.
Additionally, if anything goes wrong mid-way through a session or some technical issues arise, then instead of making your audience wait for the event to resume, the musical MC can start singing or interacting with your audience.
This helps in covering up the minute glitches that may arise at any time during the event and retaining attendees throughout the event.
That said, it’s also important to note that to form a deeper relationship with your audience and grab their attention until the event is over, you must consider using music-infused activities that match their interests.
For instance, your musical MCs should take into account the background of the event audience to be able to connect with your audience. This includes understanding the geography from where the audience has joined your event, their industry or even knowing about the speakers at your event.
Even if you are only including musical-infused activities, ensure that the songs or music being played are relevant to your audience. For example, if it’s a virtual summit for marketers, then featuring songs that talk about engineering will be irrelevant to your audience.
It’s the age of Entertainment 2.0
Building excitement among your audience is the foundation of any successful event.
To be able to hold your audience’s attention until the end and get them to come back to your events requires you to offer them an event experience that is beyond the ordinary.
To do this, event planners have to recognise the importance of tailoring event experiences.
This can be done by digging deep into your attendee’s profiles and studying more about their experiences or background. Knowing this will help you produce bespoke entertainment sessions at your event that your attendees will cherish.
Simply having a music band at the corner of the event is not enough to make your events entertaining. These mainstream forms of event engagement are no more relevant to today’s event audiences.
Competition in the events industry is much more fierce now. And so, to deliver exclusive event experiences, it’s a prerequisite to study the demography that your audience represents.
Event planners need to strategically place music-infused activities within their event and tailor it based on the background and interests of their event stakeholders.
To learn more about boosting engagement and preventing fatigue with virtual entertainment, watch the full episode below.