ASK CEMA Live Webinar-April 23, 2020

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Ask CEMA Live!  Episode Two: CEMA Experts Break Down the Pivot-April 23, 2020

In our second Ask CEMA Live! Webinar on April 23, our event executive panel dove deeper into the opportunities and challenges in creating powerful and profitable digital/virtual experiences.

The session was moderated by Jimmy Ervin, Founder & President, Velocity. The panel comprised expert perspectives from both the client and industry sides: Ken Madden– SVP, Head of Digital Engagement, George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, Stephanie Dubois– Event Director SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP, Derek Blake– Divisional Vice President, Global Learning and Development, PSAV and Elizabeth Murphy– Executive Producer, Senior Director, Corp. Global Events, Oracle.

We framed the webinar with the argument that virtual/ digital experience does not mean less impactful or scaled down experiences.  When content, messaging, and interactions are designed with a laser focus on business goals and audience needs, a virtual experiential event can truly become the confluence of art, science, experiences, and technology – to deliver high value.  Consider the following statistics on digital behavior:

  • 44% of people watch more live-streaming events than live TV[i]
  • 30% of people are more likely to speak to a person in a virtual booth[ii]
  • Users comment 10 times more on live videos than regular videos[iii]
  • 80% of people favor a good quality live stream to a brand’s social media or blog[iv]


With that vision in mind, the discussion kicked off with the burning question: how do we pivot?  The consensus of the panel was that successfully transitioning to virtual events requires understanding what planning, design and experiential elements carry over from the real world and which ones must be revented for digital.

  • Carry over: objectives, attendee value, strategy, experience design, great content, and production quality
  • Revent: planning, content delivery, attendee journey, attendee experience and technical environment


Through the discussion, panelists offered important insights into optimizing attendee experience online:

  • Content is queen and less is more: be it graphics, video, text or spoken word, content must be tight, crisp, bite-sized and when possible interactive.
  • Timing is critical: time conversion ratios are different online than on a live stage. Think purposefully about the flow between segments and don’t overload audiences with too many moving parts.
  • Variety adds spice: three or four speakers will engage a virtual audience better than one.
  • Live vs. taped: Live virtual events can be great, but they are risky, and glitches can muddle the experience. Consider a mix of pre-recorded, live, and on-demand content.
  • User tech is uncontrollable: Virtual events need to reflect the different devices audiences use (computer, tablet, mobile device), where they are accessing the event (home, car, outdoors), and bandwidth.
  • The platform doesn’t deliver production: the production team does.
  • Online not necessarily less expensive: set leadership expectations for budgets, costs and RoI.
  • Your space will become saturated with virtual events: anticipate demand and digital fatigue. Tailor content to audience segments, look for ways to add value, and consider niche content opportunities.


As we move into more virtual events through 2021 or beyond, we should continually pulse check our pivot activities and share intel, experience, and advice. The Ask CEMA Live! forums are a great way to do that.  We look forward to tapping into our member brain trust and taking deeper dives into these all-too-important ideas.


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[i] Interactive Advertising Bureau


[iii] Facebook-

[iv] Facebook-


April 23, 2020


Zoom @ Webinar

Posted On

May 12, 2020