Just yesterday, we once again tackled the topic of virtual audience engagement. And one of the points we stressed was the importance of entertainment. The world is always starving for entertainment, and remote attendees are not an exception to this rule! On the contrary – one could even argue that keeping audiences amused is even more crucial in a virtual setting. Plus, with hybrid on an almost certain path to become the norm, it becomes crucial to learn the ropes of entertainment in this new world.
So today, we’re diving straight into it. Our lovely host Sarah welcomes the iconic JC York from Classic Entertainment & Productions. And JC has quite a lot to say about the topic! As a titan of entertainment, there’s no one we’d rather have on board to teach us more about entertaining the new age of attendees. So press play and join us for another #EventIcons!
Making It Fun
JC has found a great way to create entertainment for virtual and hybrid events. “One of the current things that I’m working on right now is doing virtual Santa Claus. Because that’s just a tradition and how do we navigate around that? So I’ve actually had some friends reach out to me, as I did it back in Easter with the Easter bunny, asking if I was willing to do some virtual Santa Claus visits. So I’ll be doing some Santa Claus visits via green screen and virtual right from the confines of my North Pole in Florida”, he says.
“I think there are people learning how to be able to do that virtually. As for bringing things into the meeting spectrum, I think it’s a nice change of pace. People have been what we now call zoom fatigued or zoomed out. So how do you engage that? And we’ve come up with dropped in virtual characters. So we’ve had the ability to, during somebody’s meeting, be able to kind of zoom bomb them with the character. It doesn’t necessarily need to be holiday-related, but now as holidays are coming up, we want to do it with the Grinch and Scrooge or even Santa Claus”, he adds.
The Key Is Recording!
Recently, we discussed the pros and cons of live sessions versus pre-recorded. And JC makes a great point about making entertainment for virtual and hybrid events pre-recorded! “I have noticed a lot of different things that have come up through meetings. A lot of it has been musical acts or performances that can be done as more of a cirque type of show. So something that you to watch, but the ability to do it live is great. And here’s the key. It’s not live. A lot of it’s already pre-produced, but you record in a live setting, you record that it is going to be live. So that when you switch over, people at home don’t know whether you’re switching to a prerecording or switching over to a different studio. And that’s the key”.
“The attendees don’t realize what’s going on, what they don’t know, they don’t know. And as a planner, you feel very confident because everything’s already been done. They’ve seen it. What I recommend though, is to have some of that entertainment involved, but then also have a live person doing the MC introductions, the banter. Because then they truly can’t tell because that conversation’s happening live. So give the element of true live nature. And I think that’s what captures people versus just watching another video”, he adds.
Entertainment For Virtual And Hybrid Events, Safely
“With my company, a part of our focus is interactive entertainment. And you can’t get away from interactive and our activity is what makes it live. It’s what makes it fun. Now, can you do this over a computer screen? Absolutely, you and I are talking, we’re engaging. But I’ll just flip it in and throw a character in there. And all of a sudden, we have something different. It’s a new element. And then we’d like to take things to the next step, beyond virtual. Which will come with hybrid”, explains JC.
“But how do you do entertainment safely? One of the products that we have, we call it the interact TV. So it’s live digital animation. We have animated characters that we are now conversing with. So you could put them on a big screen. You can make them the virtual emcee of the events. So they’re on the big screens or a TV for entering or exiting a trade show area, or just a common area. And the person’s talking to a television set. But it’s a fun way to engage”.
“And what we call that is scripted improv. So we have a base script and let’s say you are going to be on stage. You’re the emcee or you’re the person that’s running the meeting. But now I pop up on the big screen and now you’re having a conversation with a three-dimensional character on a screen. So they’re not there next to you. You’re actually talking to the person, the screen, and we’re going back and forth on things that have happened. That’s why it’s called scripted improv. We know where we’re going, but sometimes you have to adjust to something that just happened. So that’s the fun part”, he adds.
Going Above And Beyond
Here at Endless, we often stress the importance of hiring professional help. And while we mostly do so in the context of production, it’s just as relevant with entertainment for virtual and hybrid events. “It goes back to show there’s a value to hiring professionals, just like anything else. And we, as artists are exactly that we’re professionals we’ve been doing this a long time”, says JC. “And it’s nice to see that there are people realizing that it’s not just throwing anything up on the screen and people will be entertained. You should be reaching out to those professionals who you’ve known in the past”.
“The main thing I love about this industry is the relationships. I think that’s the number one factor of what we do. We support each other. And we have to come together, we have to support each other it’s this year. So what’s going to elevate the virtual aspect to the next level is working with the people who are going to deliver a wonderful product”, he adds.
Setting your virtual event apart is hard – but that’s exactly where entertainment comes in. “What are people talking about the next day? That’s what we’ve always tried to strive for with entertainment. Any performer always wants to leave that lasting impression. We don’t go in and just perform for the performance. Performers want to go and just entertain. We love to make people laugh and feel something and smile. And that’s that element. So to bring that into the event space is great. I want people to realize that one character can make a difference at an event”, explains JC.
“Even if it’s just a meet and greet person at the door, that one element can make a big difference. Even if it’s for a 32-second segment, a one minute segment – that can make all the difference for people to remember. You want to activate the mind. That’s where a lot of entertainment comes in. And that’s why I would encourage anybody to reach out to their local performers, reach out to people that you have performed with. Spice things up, do something new”.
So, can entertainment for virtual and hybrid events come close to what we have in-person? Absolutely! JC has already proved that our imagination is the limit. So don’t be afraid to reach out to the performers you know, because they will definitely surprise you with all the creative ideas they have for your event!