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 hello@thinkevent.com and let us help you out!

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.

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

https://www.adobe.com/summit.html

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

Webcasting vs Video Conferencing

These two terms are very widely and loosely used lately but many are still confused between the two. What is the difference between the two? It’s a common question that our team is asked when we are working with clients from different industries.

A webcast is broadcast over the internet, and can be either live, simulate live (simul-live) or on-demand, for example, webinars. Video conference, on the other hand, is more commonly used in daily work between colleagues in different cities or branches, and it is less complicated to set it up. So, what are the main differences?

Video Conferencing

The big WHY

Our big question to our clients is usually why do you want to organise this event? What is the objective or the intent? Only by knowing the WHY that we can recommend the right solution for our clients.

Is the session for brainstorming or collaboration purpose? Video conferencing will be the answer if you are expecting more discussion where participants can transit from being a listener to a presenter as well.

Webcasting allow a more defined role of presenter and audience but that doesn’t refrain the audience from interacting as Q&A can still be conducted during a webcast.

Scalability

Video conferencing normally involves a smaller crowd and in most cases, all participants will require the same software installed or the same hardware to dial-in. For webcasting, the host takes ownership of managing the hardware and creating the set in which the audience will watch, it’s like watching a news broadcasting. Webcasting is definitely more scalable compare to video conferencing and can be viewed by a bigger audience from different parts of the world.

Webcasting
Picture from LiveStreamPro

Event management

Webcasting require more preparation from event management perspective, from finalising the presenters and moderators to sending out invitations and other event promotions. Video conferencing requires less preparation and setup is a lot simpler too.

Interactivity

Video conferencing usually involves both ways audio and video, in addition to sharing screens and documents during the sessions. Webcasting typically has a larger audience and we normally stream audio and video to the audience from the host at higher streaming quality, and all interactions from polling, Q&A, chat to word cloud will be done from the webcasting interface.

Webcasting also allow multi-ways of audio and video with audience coming together in different pre-set locations. What this means? Assuming the main host is in London with audience watching from a preassigned auditoriums in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The host in London can always see the audience response or even take questions through audio from the different satellite events.

Post-production

As webcasting is pre-planned like an event and we can always get a higher quality recording, the recordings allow more robust editing which includes adding proper intro including the presenter’s name and session name. The recordings can be more organised before uploaded onto the web for replay or download.

Due to the nature of the video conferencing, the audio and video recorded can be difficult to be edited.

Analytics

Webcasting offers more comprehensive analytics and reporting, including audience behaviour and interactions to help future planning better or even to determine which leads are more qualified. Video conferencing only offers very basic audience analytics such as the number of audience, duration and poll results.

Webinar

Find the most suitable option

There are a lot of options in the market. If you understand the intent of the event or session, you will be able to pick the right option. While video conferencing platforms may cost less to use or setup, it may not fit the intent or purpose of the session. Webcasting takes video conferencing to a whole new level and yes, it may cost more but it all goes back to your initial intent.

Shifting to virtual event

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the world, the business event industry has come to a complete halt. I also believe that the outbreak has forced us all to look at our current operations and business models from a different angle. In order to survive, business event owners or management needs to adapt and adapt quickly.

Many global and local events, big and small, have been cancelled or postponed to later date. Airlines, hotels, event companies, PCOs and DMCs are badly affected during this time.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change that survives.”

Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)

Virtual Events

It seems Virtual Event is the only solution instead of doing nothing until large group gatherings are declared safe to resume. Virtual event may not be the same as a live event with live audience and it cannot bring back the same ROI or impact for sponsors but conversations and interactions have to carry on.

The easiest way to illustrate a virtual event is a news broadcast on TV without live audience. Virtual event allow the speakers to be in the comfort of their own office or home, without having to travel overseas and present virtually to audience from all over the globe.

Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Can audience still interact with the speakers?

Audience or the participants can still interact with the speakers through the mobile event app. Paid or registered participants will need to download the event app, ask questions to the speakers via the Q&A feature, choose the language for simultaneous interpretation and even vote during the presentation – all these in real time.

Cvent.com

Alternatively, remote venues with controlled number of audience can be equipped with video cameras and sound system where the main venue can view the audience and even see the participant asking the question.

On the plus side, these video recordings can later be hosted on the website for replay or “Video On Demand”, made available only to paying participants.

I believe virtual event setup will be the changing game for the business event industry. This will not just help during the virus outbreak but even after the outbreak.

  • Cheaper for participant who needs to take long haul flights
  • Reduce printing of conference materials and badges
  • Increase of participants
  • Lower cost to setup an event with minimal F&B cost
  • More options of venues with manageable group size
  • Longer and wider brand exposure for sponsors
  • Longevity of the conference with the replay option

Let me know what you think! Drop me your thoughts at hello@ronald-lim.com