Why it helps to think “Strictly” when it comes to virtual event design, facilitation and production

Why it helps to think Strictly Come Dancing when it comes to virtual event design, facilitation and production

Our ten-year-old daughter is obsessed with UK TV show Strictly Come Dancing (or as it’s known in the US – Dancing With The Stars). It’s a feast for the senses – beautifully planned, choreographed and presented down to the very last element. Every Saturday and Sunday evening from October through to December, as a family, we are to be found watching and dissecting all elements of this TV show.

You may be wondering at this point where we’re going with this blog. As a result of the pandemic, many of us in the events industry have had to greatly adjust and pivot our work into the virtual space. The learning curve has been steep and bumpy.

As we reflect back on that journey, there has been SO much learning! But what is our biggest learning? Virtual events have more in common with the TV show Strictly than we could ever have imagined!

  • The participant experience has to be front and centre – continuous engagement whether through the use of polling, group work and other hooks is central to the success of virtual events.
  • It needs to be really slick – it takes a huge amount of effort to seamlessly design and choreograph a virtual event. Planning for the many different things that could go wrong through the use of technology and the virtual medium when going live is what allows it to look effortless on the day even when things go wrong as they do.
  • Practice is the name of the game – the amount of planning and rehearsing for virtual events far outweighs any other need in order to deliver a quality virtual event.
  • Seamless teaming in front and behind the camera makes all the difference – virtual events require a level of connected communication which can be truly daunting.
  • Strong facilitation and moderation can make all the difference. When things go wrong on the night with Strictly, it’s the job of the hosts to keep the show on the road. With virtual events, professional moderation can make all the difference.
  • The “on the day” event itself is the smallest part of the work – this is difficult to articulate to clients. Typically, clients are used to the largest costs being absorbed by the event itself (eg venues, catering, audio-visual). When it comes to virtual events – this is not the case.

Virtual events have so much in common with polished live TV productions like Strictly! The bar for virtual events is getting ever higher as audiences and participants become ever more solicited and discerning. Working with clients to educate them has been one of our biggest challenges being very honest. Many have listened – some have chosen to learn the hard way. But when it goes right it is so rewarding!

In addition to designing, moderating and producing virtual AGMs and exceptional shareholder/stakeholder meetings, we also have experience of virtual public consultation events (launch events, tradeshows, award ceremonies, open evenings, dinners and even contentious planning applications) as well as of course a whole range of in person events. To learn more please check out www.haslerhillconsulting.co.uk or call or email James on the details listed below. We would be delighted to discuss any with you further.

James Hasler and Rebecca Hill are both principal consultants at HaslerHill Consulting, an organisation specialising in moderationfacilitation and curation of events, as well as as presentation skills and public speaking skills training. If you would like to learn more about the services they offer and how they can be of benefit to your business, please get in touch via the HaslerHill Consulting contact page or call +44(0) 7773 229909



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