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Virtual events keep event participants isolated. We combat loneliness in front of the screen and create new ways to build personal communities.

Alone in the back row
Imagine going to an event. A real event. Unfortunately, you don’t know anyone. And somehow you don’t manage to connect with any of the other attendees on a personal level. Any attempt to establish contact is drowned out by the hubbub of voices from the anonymous crowd of guests.

Nowhere to be seen is there a hostess, a host, or a face you could talk to personally. You are alone in the hallway and now the event is starting. So you sit down somewhere in the back row. In terms of content, what’s going on up at the front isn’t all that bad, and yet you somehow can’t relate to any of it. The event takes its course, you sit through it and go home better informed, but without having had a single personal conversation. You have gained new knowledge but have not established any personal contact.

Thank you for watching!
Welcome to the world of virtual events. I am convinced that a lot of people who are participating in virtual events at the moment feel the same way I do: Virtual events seem very impersonal to me. I’m not talking about meetings or smaller round tables, but events with more than 50 guests.

For one thing, many virtual events are still poorly presented due to technical inadequacies and a lack of “storyline”. This can make it difficult for guests to follow the action. However, even when productions are very professionally executed, as a participant I remain an uninvolved viewer. Admittedly, interactive event tools for surveys, Q&A, gamification, etc. might give me the opportunity to engage with the content. But on a personal level I still remain strangely unmoved by all the goings on my screen. Why should that be?

Perceive and be perceived
The Internet is quite an anonymous space, per se. And let’s not forget: virtual events are a new type of medium, with their own set of rules and opportunities for experiences. So it makes no sense to want to transfer an experience one-to-one from real space into virtual space. My colleague Max went into this in detail in our last blog article.

Nevertheless: there is a basic human need that we bring virtual events, just as we do to real events: everyone wants to be noticed. This experience forms an essential part of the connection that companies seek through communication.

However, the context of almost all virtual events denies us this feeling. Event platforms do not perceive guests as people, but as users (perhaps even as a target group). Users are processed in a technically correct manner, receive invitations, reminders, logins, maybe (at least) personal chat rooms, but the thing that current platforms are unable to achieve is a personal touch. This requires a rethink: we have to envisage virtual events less in terms of IT solutions and more in terms of communication needs.

Community is everything. Long live community!
An absolutely fundamental aspect of any community is appreciating the presence of the individual: Nice you could make it. Welcome! Without you, something would be missing.

This feeling arises through personal face-to-face encounter and, in the context of virtual events, creates a community out of an anonymous group of users. Together with the research and development studio ZAAK, we have worked hard over the past few months to enable this very important, informal part of the event experience for virtual events.

An essential aspect of our solution is to once more make personal connection a central part of the customer journey of virtual events. We create personal communities from anonymous target groups.

How do we do this?

If we have peaked your interest, get in touch with us personally. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

#communitybuilding #digitalevent #hybridevent #storytelling

Jonathan Schwarz
Creative Director, Live Lab

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After completing his master’s in theology, Jonathan switched to the live communication sector in 2013 and completed a bachelor’s degree in media and cultural studies at the same time. After two positions at agencies in Cologne and Zurich and international awards for his conceptual work, Jonathan joined Live Lab as Creative Director in 2020.

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