Benefits & Tips When Using Virtual Background

Whether we are still working from our home or office, the online meeting is just going to be part of our daily schedule now. Words such as zoom and Teams have become a verb in our daily lives.

Most of us have tried using virtual background when doing these meetings, some struggle as their computer may not be compatible. So why aren’t more people leveraging branded backgrounds when there is so much opportunity to build more brand awareness?

The key to designing a branded virtual background is to keep it tasteful (avoid using too many colours or patterns) so that it doesn’t become a distraction for others attending the meeting.

Here are three benefits of utilising a branded virtual background:

1. Cover Up Your Personal/Work Space

Our personal or workspace may not be well organised as we’d like at all times, and switching off the camera during these meetings just won’t fix the problem. This may affect our brand and professionalism. A custom branded virtual background can easily solve that challenge for us and we can always standardise the visuals for everyone in the team. Alternatively, a high-resolution photograph will work as well to cover up the background.

Here’s a link to some free background images.

2. Build Brand Recognition and Trust

I have recently learnt that having our brand on the virtual background can help to amplify our business to the people that we have a meeting with and to those that participate in the virtual event or webinar.

Besides brand colours and logos, depending on the event – I added a QR code for other participants to easily add me to their contact book.

You can create your own QR code HERE.

3. Create a Unique Visual Presence

Besides having our logo and brand colours, we can always be creative to add quotes of the day, project initiative images, images that resonate with our brand or simply just having colour patterns with effects. The virtual background does not have to be just static images but can be in video format as well.

When creating and using our virtual background there are a few best practices that we should follow to ensure we look our best.

Make sure the visual created is 16:9 ratio, 1920 pixel by 1080 pixel

Whether we are using a video or static virtual background, we must make sure it is created in a 16:9 ratio. All virtual background images must be saved as a PNG file to ensure higher resolution, and all videos must be saved at 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels for the best outcome.

Sufficient and proper lighting

Make sure the room is well-lit and consider external lights to create a better contrast between the subject (or us) and the background, and this will also help to reduce the halo effect. Always avoid having windows or backlights so we don’t appear dark.

Use higher quality webcam

As we all know that not all built-in webcams on laptops are good enough. We recommend using an external webcam to give better quality output, and key out the background better to add the virtual background.

Our recommendation of affordable webcams:

  • Logitech C922 Pro
  • Logitech C920e
  • Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro
  • Logitech C930
  • Logitech C925e

Minimise movement

When using a virtual background (either static image or video), minimise movement will help to reduce any odd halo effects. Anytime our webcam sees movement (colour changes), it could affect how our virtual background is presented, and this applies to when someone walks past behind us as well.

Need help to create a good virtual background? Get in touch with us at and let us help you out!

Should Association Reduce Registration Fee Because It’s A Virtual Conference?

We have recently completed the Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Scientific Conference, fully virtual. The result from the virtual conference:

  • Doubled the number of registrations compare to in-person
  • Maintained profit above 10% for the society
  • International participants registered
  • International speakers without having to travel

Some of the big questions that we ponder upon when we try to structure the registration pricing:

  • Who are the targeted participants for this conference, and are they mostly from private or public sector?
  • What is the main target or objective of this conference?
  • Will there be significant help to the participants’ career with the CPD points?

What we have learned?

  • Registration fee to the conference is not about the coffee breaks F&B but focus on the education and networking
  • Super promo price did not work or entice a lot of registrations. 90% of the registrations came in 3 – 4 weeks before the event.
  • Do not panic and start reducing price when registration does not pick up during super promo period
  • Instead of reducing the registration price, we created extra tier/category to cater to the medical officers and nurses from the public sector
  • We created promo codes for inter-associations collaboration
  • Hosted delegates through education grant from sponsors is still key
  • Offer certificate even after completion of On Demand

What can we add on for future conference?

  • Couple the registration fee with association membership fee (for non-members) – increase membership for the association/society.
  • Separate ticket for post conference access for participants who can’t join the live sessions. This new ticket or registration fee can be cheaper to target those doctors or nurses who are on-call.
  • Scholarship – an opportunity for application for scholarship to attend the conference.
  • Pay-It-Forward option can be interesting

Different ideas may work for different industries or fields of associations, and it really depends on the community.

Top 5 Virtual Event Engagement Ideas

Have you been engaged before?

One of the many questions since 2020 yet to have a perfect formula or recipe. I have been researching and here are my top 5 ideas, some I have been using for my past virtual events and some I will put them into practice soon.

1. Earn points to redeem gifts

A lot of virtual event platform has this feature ready – set the goals and audience can earn points after completing assigned tasks or missions. Instant gratification by using the points to redeem for gift cards or surprise swag box or sponsored gifts. I find this really useful to drive the audience to sponsor’s booths or get the audience more active during the general sessions or making sure the attendees network with one another. You can check out platforms like Cvent, OnAir by EventsAir or Hubilo.

2. Online games

Having games during breaks can be a good way to keep the audience occupied, especially those that do not have e-mail to response to or do not need such long toilet break. I use Engamio a new gamification platform to build simple games such as word search or jigsaw puzzle game, the leaderboard will create the competition among the audience. Platform like Engamio allows branding and it can be part of the sponsorship package. What platform do you use – care to share and comment?

3. Virtual photo booth

We are so used to getting a photo booth at a physical event but what’s stopping us from having a virtual version? Platforms like Snapbar even allows the user to add stickers (props) on their photo. If the user is super shy, he or she can just keep the photos without sharing them on social media.

4. Get physical

EventMB’s event had short 10 mins of workout session conducted by professional fitness instructor which I mind it very useful to get the audience moving or up from their seats after a few hours of intense knowledge downloading. There are other activities such as cocktail masterclass, mentalists show or even

5. Discussion forum

Turn the chat function during the session into a discussion forum. Some platforms rename the chat feature to Discussion Forum to encourage more subject matter discussion rather than normal chat. To achieve this, a good moderator is required to drive the conversation and this definitely can help to stimulate the discussion while the session is going on.

Webinars are not virtual events

I believe we see more and more webinars and virtual events invitation and promo on our LinkedIn and Facebook feed since March 2020. Ever wonder if webinar considered a virtual event?

You may disagree with me but to me, a webinar is not a virtual event. A virtual event should meet some (if not all) of the below criteria, imagine a conference:

  • Attendees interaction
  • Networking
  • Multi sessions
  • Multi tracks or break outs
  • One-on-one meeting
  • Sponsors’ virtual booth
  • Concurrent sessions

A virtual event usually last more than 4-hours or at least a full day with a stellar line up of speakers with well curated content under one common theme and great networking opportunity for speakers, sponsors and attendees.

What is webinar then?

Essentially, webinar is supposed to be a one-hour or so un-engaging presentation, useful for marketing purpose and even existed long before COVID. But today, webinar can be a video with one or more speakers presenting to a group of audience, can be presentation of slides or panel discussion or demo a product. Or you also call it online seminar.

So what do people normally use when hosting webinars?

Sales coaching, motivational sessions, sales pitch or instructional content are usually webinars. Webinars are meant to reach out to as many people as possible, the bigger the audience the better for sales. Therefore, the registration platform or module that comes with the webinar platforms are rather straightforward – register, get confirmation and login link; then join the webinar.

Unlike a virtual event registration, the algorithm or logic can be a lot more complex and accreditation or approval process can be included. For example,

  • an attendee to the virtual event can have their profile viewed by other attendees
  • an attendee can set a meeting with another attendee
  • business match making can be done
  • attendee can select the tracks or sessions to join during registration or before the event
  • sponsors can set appointment with the attendee

So is your next event a webinar or a virtual event? What is your big WHY for the project? One may work better than the other depending on what you would like to achieve.

If you have any questions or need advice about an upcoming event, feel free to contact me at

Lessons learnt in the recent months

Some of the most searched topics on google is probably “How to conduct a virtual event?” or “Which is the best virtual event platform?”. Everyone must have attended more than 10 online sessions (combination of webinars and virtual events).

I lost count on the number of sessions I have conducted and attended. Have I had 100% success? Honestly, I have not and I have stopped expecting 100%. Here are the few things that I have learnt in the past months.

Understanding the why

I believe the most important thing for the client (or organiser) is to be very clear on why they want to conduct this virtual session (be in a webinar or a virtual event). Are you planning this to engage with your community in your industry or are you doing this to get more traction or are you simply joining the bandwagon because everyone else is doing virtual?

The different WHY will help the event professionals to plan which platform is suitable to your needs. There are just too many platforms available in the market and do you trust self developed platforms or a platform by award winning tech companies? 

From understanding the WHY – the event professionals can advise the programming for the virtual session, will it be a multi-day conference style or a short yet impactful 2 hours webinar engagement? 

The clear WHY will also help to craft out great content and only great content can attract the participants to stay throughout the virtual session. Through knowing the WHY then you can plan for the pre-engagement better. 

Knowing your participants

I have conducted no less than 30 virtual sessions (combination of webinar, virtual events and hybrid events) in the past 4 months. Trust me, besides having a great lineup of speakers and topics – your participants’ experience is as important. 

Why do I say so? There are just too many virtual event platforms in the market and everyone is pitching their latest feature or 3D capabilities. Let’s be practical – the one thing that is beyond our control is the internet connection on the speakers’ end (if they are doing remote), participants own internet coverage and the internet stability at the broadcasting studio. 

Will these new features or 3D capabilities help to engage the participants better or the unpredictable internet connection on the participants’ end may not give them the 100% experience that was intended? I believe the best experience is still a seamless and smooth session even with the most basic features as long as the participants can still interact with the speakers and the WHY is fulfilled. 

I have seen too many clients / brands focusing too much on having more features in their virtual session than their competitors – end up forgetting their WHY and getting more participants to drop off or worse still, negative comments. 

Our recent virtual session had over 500 healthcare professionals registered and approximately 90% attended. Prior to this, we have engaged with the healthcare professionals to understand what works and what will not work for them. What we found out is that 64% of them will be watching the session from their mobile devices and not PC for sure. If over 50% of your participants will be watching from their mobile devices, what will be your best delivery format for a scientific session?  Will a 3D lobby, auditorium and trade show booths work for this group of participants? For us, we would focus on practical engagements (Q&A and polling), easy to read slides and make sure it’s easy to access for the participants without having to download any additional plugins or applications. 

You will not find a reliable online article on “Best time for virtual event” because it all depends on your targeted participants’ time zone. If you are based in Asia but the targeted participants are majority based in the U.S., then a 10am or 2pm Singapore time will not work at all. If you are targeting participants from all over the world, how can you work your program to work best for all the different regions (Europe, America and Asia Pacific)? What do you think?

Engaging before, during and after the event

I find that crowdsourcing for questions or topics of interest from the participants prior to the session is very helpful to start engaging the participants and setting the stage. Unlike a physical event, the speakers are not able to read the participants’ reaction or body language so it is always helpful for the speakers to know what the participants are expecting or what are the pain points to address in order to engage with them. 

Just like producing a television talk show, very experienced producers and showcaller are crucial to ensure the smooth running of the virtual / hybrid event. Virtual participants should not feel that they were merely watching a show on their laptop but the emcee and speakers must constantly engage with them, and this can definitely be done with polls, reactions and Q&A features.

Human connections are key especially for the virtual participants. We must think of how we can create opportunities for the participants to connect with one another, have conversations and tap into each other’s thoughts to encourage learning from each other. How can we drive this using the platform and mobile app? How about a virtual braindate™ or topic based networking opportunities. 

Post event engagement is also important but often forgotten by many organisers. It can be surveys to understand which area to improve or networking opportunities to maintain the engagement with the community.

More stressful than live event

Many people still have the impression that the virtual event is easy, similar to zoom sessions that they have attended. Many have not seen the preparation work behind the scene, getting the storyboard right, deciding and planning the engagement tools. 

Unlike a live event, there is one part of the puzzle that no matter how much we plan for backup it will still be beyond our control : THE INTERNET. This is not just the internet connection on the speakers’ end but also the connection on the participants’ part and whether they will be using WiFi or watching from their mobile devices running on 4G or 3G.

Live webinar or pre-recorded

There are two ways to do a webinar – either doing it live or pre-recording it. So what are the differences?

Live WebinarPre-Recorded Webinar
CostThe cost is higher compare to pre-recorded webinars due to dedicated internet lines requiredThe cost is lower as we do not require such high speed during recording
Q&ALive Q&A with the audience Unless the webinar is run as simulated live, pre-recorded webinars can also take live Q&A provided the speakers available during the time the session is ON AIR
PollLive Polling with AnswersAutomated webinar available on some platform can run polls at stipulated time but live result will not be shown
Internet SpeedStable and fast as audio and video will be transmitted liveSufficient for remote presenters to dial in
Presenters’ TimeAll presenters must be available at the same timePresenters can be recorded at different time based on schedule or availability
N-GIt’s live broadcast so no retake but rehearsals usually helpsSince it’s recording, so retake is possible
EngagingLive broadcast is definitely more engaging Limitations to how the session can be more engaging as compare to live sessions

Hopefully the above comparison can help you choose which option to take for your next virtual event. Remember, there’s always an option to do both or hybrid.

At PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2020 in San Francisco

Engaging virtual attendees

Presenting to live audience vs virtual audience can be very different and will have different challenges. Seasoned presenters or keynote speakers maybe very comfortable with the live audience and the live response but it is not the same in the virtual environment.

Presenters need to be more engaging on the virtual scenario and here are some features either already available on most webinar platforms or available to integrate into the presentation deck.

Crowdsource for topics of interest

Start engaging your audience before the event by setting up polls to understand your audience better and it is a fantastic way to curate or crowdsource for topics of interest from the audience. This will help the presenter to shape their presentation so that it’s more relevant or interesting to the majority of the crowd.

Another good example is to get the audience to vote for the case study that they want to hear from the keynote speaker. Let the audience feel that they are part of the event and they had the privilege to shape the content.

Connecting with the audience

Facilitator or moderator of the virtual event plays a very important role. I personally find that it is important to set the stage for the speaker by connecting with the audience through a simple get-to-know-you poll or word cloud. This is also a very good opportunity to introduce the feature of the poll and Q&A available throughout the event.

Several engagement tools which are easy to use includes Slido, Mentimeter and Pigeonhole Live.

Getting live response from virtual audience

I feel it is important that the presenter or speaker can continue to engage with the audience throughout his/her session and it is never the same for the presenter to get a live response from the virtual audience. Responses from the virtual audience can also help to energise the presenter.

How can we get live responses from virtual audience?

  1. Most of the webinar platforms come with Polling features, make use of the available features to get the audience to response – to see if they understand what was presented the last 10 minutes or more examples needed before moving to the next point.
  2. You can also opt to get the audience opinion before a case has been presented so that you can show a before and after opinion or the opinion shift.
  3. Allow the audience to use the live chat feature to connect with other audiences. The live chat feature can also be used during the presentation to get quick responses without having to set up a poll. Example, type “1” in the chatbox if you agree with the last point.
  4. Gamify the experience with quizzes using available tools like Mentimeter or Kahoot.
  5. Q&A is important at the end of the session, and more effective if facilitated by a moderator.

Learn about virtual events (Webinars)

In the past 2 weeks, there are numerous webinars and online trainings on virtual events – mostly FREE. Here are some of the webinars that I personally find them useful and very insightful.

2019 Salt Conference Event Case Study

Credit: PSAV Global Virtual Events Day

Very informative and it helps to hear on a real life case study, and not a hypothetical scenario. I may have mentioned in previous posts that hybrid event is not new in our industry, maybe less used previously.

How to host a virtual event?

Credit: Epiphan and Crowdcast

This webinar will give a better idea on how to prepare or plan for a virtual event.

Virtual Events in Real Life

Credit: PSAV Global Virtual Events Day

Create Value with Virtual Events Sponsorships

Credit: PSAV Global Virtual Events Day

Adobe Summit 2020

I have listed this summit as a case study, for the first time Adobe Summit is 100% virtual.

How to host a virtual event (Part 2)

If you are looking for Part 1 of this article, you can find it HERE.

Format Options

Next, you need to understand what are the format available or combination of formats to have.

  • Presenter with a camera

This is the simplest option, where you do not require switching the video camera between two or more speakers. Sharing of presentation slides with the audience can also be done. This typically is used for training sessions or maybe CEO speech.

  • Two-presenters interview and screen share

Both presenters can be in different locations, and both have the right to share their presentation decks. Both of the presenters will have their own camera focusing on them. One of the presenter is normally the moderator of the session, interviewing the second presenter.

  • Multiple presenters interactions

This simulates the panel discussion in a live event. This format or setup may be a lot more complicated in term of hardware setup, and the moderator of the session has to be in control.

Delivery options

Next thing to consider is the delivery options, whether a conferencing software, live streaming platforms or virtual event platforms will best suit your event. We have received a lot of feedback from corporate clients that plan to use zoom as the delivery platform to reach out to 300 people. So what are the differences?

A video conferencing software is like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangout where it’s real time and run two-way communications, and best for smaller groups where live interaction is key. Of course, Zoom also offer the webinar options where you have passive audience watching.

YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Live are very popular live streaming platforms. Few things that we normally ask ourselves if these platforms provide polling, branding, Q&A or simultaneous translation features. Otherwise, can we integrate with 3rd party widgest available in the market?

Last option will be the virtual event platforms which allows us to conduct simulive events, meaning we can have the streaming of the event live, take questions via Q&A and even polling. After the live virtual event, we will host the session as pre-recorded but all Q&A questions will be answered by team of moderators or admins. Polls can still be collected during the simulive session. We normally conduct this in a studio setup, imagine a newsroom with backdrop and virtual showcaller or producer. It’s a lot more complicated but the quality is definitely much better especially if you are looking to do post production on the recorded sessions.

Some fo this virtual event platforms allow the presenters to connect via video conferencing software such as Zoom.

Connect with us if you want to find out more which virtual event platform do we recommend and why.

How to host a virtual event (Part 1)

While a lot of organisers are rushing to transform their events into virtual, the very first thing to highlight is that a virtual event will never be the same as a live event. Therefore, the way the content is curated, the format of presentation and the way to engage with the audience will need to be properly thought through. Please remember that audience can click to leave the virtual event faster or easier to leave the virtual event as compare to being physically present in a live event. There are a lot more distractions for the audience at a virtual event as compare to a live event.


Just like planning a live event, there are a lot of things to consider during the planning stage. The most crucial ingredient of a successful virtual event is definitely the content. The topic for a virtual event (or even a webinar) should not be too broad or general because you need the audience to feel the need to latch on the session.

The content has to be concise and the format of delivery should be interesting and engaging. We have to remember that the speaker or presenter will not be able to see the audience except for the Q&A, chat and poll responses from the audience. We encourage the presenters to structure their slides with more interactive components that require the audience to feedback through polling feature.

An 8 hours long live conference cannot be translated to 8 hours long virtual event. It is advisable to have properly segmented sessions according to topics and the moderator or host of the virtual event has to constantly remind the audience what to expect after the current session.


Promotion of the virtual event can be done differently as it is indeed something new not just to some speakers but also to audience as well. We recommend our clients to have smaller sessions of webinars leading up to the big day so that the audience get used to using the interfaces or widgets that is available.

Clear agenda or program must be published on the website and the registration process must be as easy as ABC.

Speakers and host

Imagine a TV talk show, host plays very important role to set the tone of the event and also to make house keeping announcements. Host can also help the speakers or presenters to make the session less rigid or dull.

Seasonal or professional speakers may be very experienced on the big stage with large audience, but it is going to be different when speaking through a camera to invisible audience behind the screen. Smaller sessions of webinars will help them to get used to or comfortable with the setup (or even improve on their audio or video setting), and fine tune their way of presenting or taking questions too.


For ticketing virtual events, should be more affordable as the lack of event venue facility and F&B involved in a virtual event. Single pass for a leadership virtual summit can be as low as USD99. It must be stated very clearly what is included in the single pass, whether it also include one year of subscription to the content online or it can also include materials that can be downloaded exclusively by the audience during the event.