Online Events and Video: No Longer a Question for Associations

This was originally written by Lauren Mulherrin, project coordinator at bXb Online, as a guest blog post for XYZ University and has since been reblogged by Trade Show News Network.

We’ve all been there… miles away from our loved ones feeling tired, stressed, and desperately wishing they were by our side. Not that long ago, voices of a parent, friend or child through the phone were as close as we could get to their touch. Now Apple’s FaceTime, Skype and numerous other platforms have given us a greater sense of connection through the use of video. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I think back to a Thanksgiving holiday where I found myself in a similar long distance predicament.

It was Thanksgiving 2010 and I had been studying abroad in Sydney, Australia for several months. Up until that day I had managed to avoid the homesick bug entirely, but waking up on my favorite holiday 9,235 miles away from my family was an exception. Before I had left for Oz, I made sure that my mom not only had a webcam but also knew how to use it. Being able to Skype my parents that morning helped bridge the thousands of miles and time between us (it wasn’t even Thanksgiving in the US yet) and gave me a sense of comfort. Our Skype session could never have replaced their physical presence, but it was the next best thing. How we use and feel about video in our personal lives can also extend into our educational lives.

The new era of video: edX

The adoption of online video has skyrocketed. 75% of all executives said they watched work-related videos on business websites at least once a week.  Educational institutions are using this trend to reach students far and wide. This past spring, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the launch of edX. edX is a technological platform designed to offer online versions of courses featuring; “video lesson segments, embedded quizzes, immediate feedback, student-ranked questions and answers, online laboratories, and student paced learning.”

MIT President Susan Hockfield said, “edX represents a unique opportunity to improve education on our own campuses through online learning, while simultaneously creating a bold new educational path for millions of learners worldwide.” Hockfield’s views on edX are similar to mine in regards to the online extensions of events.

The dilemma

Associations are being faced with the dilemma of not only finding ways to extend their great content, but also attracting the incoming Millennial generation. Like Hockfield states about edX, online extensions of association events are an opportunity to improve education and they are creating a bold new educational path for millions of learners worldwide. Millennials are familiar with video technology and are starting toexpect it as an extension of their events and education.

While some may look at the Millennial generation’s expectation of video and online extensions of events as another argument for our entitlement stereotype, that is not the case. Just as we Skype with our family miles away because the technology is there and adds value to our relationships, associations should stream sessions because the technology is there and adds value to our membership. To be sure there are many associations doing it right. However, it is increasingly evident to my generation (GenY, the Millennials) that most are behind in this important aspect of their business. The fear of cannibalization of face-to-face attendees is hard for many associations to shake. What associations need to keep in mind is that online extensions are not a replacement for attending a live event, but are rather the second best seat in the house.

Millennial perspective

I had the opportunity to discuss edX with two of my friends that attended MIT. Jordan Medeiros, MIT ‘06 said, “I think there are certain aspects of the educational and college experience that cannot be mimicked through online education and are important to the social development of our future generations.” MIT President Hockfield agrees that, “edX is designed to improve, not replace, the campus experience.” I think we can all concur that the online extensions of association events are no substitute for the face-to-face experience; however, similar to embracing video to enrich our personal lives, it is time that video is embraced for continued education.

Tarikh Campbell, MIT ’09 believes that, “EdX is not only a supplement for everyone in college, but now an option for everyone who can’t go to college.” Again the parallels to association conferences abound. Online extensions of sessions from annual conferences allow not only those that attended to reprocess all that they learned, but also gives those unable to attend a chance to learn and grow within their industry.

The solution

It is no longer a question of whether or not associations should embrace the online extensions of events; it is a matter of developing a team and strategy to implement this value-addition to association membership.

-Lauren Mulherrin

Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2012 at 10:25 pm | community, conference attendees, content, digital events, face-to-face events, Generation Y, hybrid events, innovation, Leadership, marketing, Millennials, online events, presentations, strategy, virtual events

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10 Reasons to Improve Your Online Presentation Skills

Today’s guest post is from Terese Cooke Bottner, bXb Online’s presentation coach. As an experienced and passionate communication consultant, she prepares bXb Online clients to deliver effective and engaging online presentations. Visit our bXb Online Team page to read more about Terese. 

So… you want to reach and educate a larger audience and you know that one way to do that is online. Smart! You’ve prepared your content, lined up an audience in-person and online, and created buzz about your event. The time is here, the cameras start rolling, and the director says, “You’re Live!”  But the presentation’s flat. No energy. No expression. No engagement. Your in-person audience is checking their iPads, and your online audience is checking out.

Here are my top 10 reasons to improve your online presentation skills:

1. Breathe life into complex learning programs. Your content IS king, and with better presentation skills your sometimes-complex information is sure to be received enthusiastically.

2. Highlight your expertise. Set yourself apart from the other drones. Most presenters online and in-person that do not invest in a little coaching are flat with their content and performance.

3. Audience satisfaction. Every attendee knows and appreciates when a presenter has prepared great content AND knows how to engage the audience.

4. You will become everyone’s favorite teacher! Dynamic presenters are great teachers. Great teachers know how to engage their students so learning doesn’t feel like a chore. Empower your message!

5. Maximize your online opportunity. Presenters have one bite at the apple. If the presentation is not good, the event you worked so hard for will be forgotten by your attendees soon after they go offline. If the presentation is engaging, you’ve done your job.

6. Learn how to engage an invisible audience. If you’ve paid attention to the shift of commercial advertising, you’ve noticed actors and content are more engaging than ever. With so many channels to choose from and remotes in-hand, advertisers have to quickly engage an audience. Your online attendees have a similar “attention deficit.”

7. Ready for anything! A well-coached presenter is prepared. As the old (cleaned-up) saying goes, “Stuff Happens!” In my experience, that “stuff” happens a lot less to presenters who have invested the time to prepare.

8. Have FUN! You and your attendees will enjoy your online presentation! Presenting can be a little nerve-racking and intimidating. Some are better than they thought, and others think they are better than they are. Once you have the knowledge of how to present well, you can relax and have fun with your online event. Usually, when the presenter’s having fun, so is the audience.

9. Presenters have a partner. Yes, it’s virtual hand-holding. You’re not in this online world alone. bXb Online wants presenters to bring their “A” game. As a partner, we’ve got your back!

10. AND THE TOP REASON TO IMPROVE YOUR ONLINE PRESENTATION SKILLS…  You will boost your event’s online marketing opportunity!  Your attendees will thank you by wanting more, revisiting the event, and sharing your information.

- Terese Cooke Bottner

We look forward to working with you!



Posted on Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Advice, audience, conference attendees, content, digital events, hybrid events, marketing, online events, presentations, storytelling, strategy, virtual events

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How Do You Convert Online Attendees to In-Person Attendees?

Show organizers are committing significant portions of their overall event budgets to attendee acquisition.  A survey conducted earlier this year by Jacobs, Jenner & Kent reported 57% are spending 10% or more of their entire event budget on attendee marketing.

As the basis of a successful event is attracting and bringing together the right audience, a well budgeted and executed attendee marketing strategy is essential.

Within the survey, 20% reported using an online and/or hybrid event solution as a tactic for attracting and retaining more attendees.

How do you convert online attendees to in-person attendees?  By creating an online event strategy that is complementary to the face-to-face strategy.

Understand the needs of this new audience

Before you market your face-to-face event to this new audience segment, invest the time to get to know them.  The survey functionality and back end metrics of virtual platforms provide information on the attendee behaviors and preferences, so you can deliver a more effective marketing message.

Showcase the best of the best

Thoughtfully craft your online event agenda to deliver the best educational elements from your meeting, showcasing the value of your sessions.  This will drive home the relevancy of your content while creating the desire for more.

Offer a Connection

By delivering engagement and interaction within your online environment, sharing activities at your physical event as well as with the other online attendees, you’re offering a meaningful connection with your organization.

Don’t skip the physical show floor

Most environments include an online exhibit hall.  However, this doesn’t preclude you from bringing the most exciting and engaging experiences from the physical show floor to your online attendees! Stream live or record for semi-live interactions and/or product demonstrations taking place onsite.

Market your next face-to-face event

Done right, you can effectively promote your next face-to-face event during the online extension – whether its through a marketing video, banner promotions or chats  – there are multiple tools for creating awareness among this captivated audience.

-Deb Greif


For more information on online event strategies, contact us at



Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Advice, audience, conference attendees, digital events, face-to-face events, hybrid events, marketing, online events, strategy, virtual events

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Tragedy & Genius: Life Advice from Deepak Malhotra

Several years ago I had the privilege of participating in the Owner President Management Program at Harvard Business School. Over three years, along with 120 entrepreneurs from around the world, I went through essentially the same case study work as HBS MBA students. It was a defining experience for me, and while I don’t talk about it often, it makes its way into my life every single day.

One of the faculty members in the OPM program was Deepak Malhotra. Deepak lead us through Negotiations class each year. He was a favorite of many, amongst a group of extremely talented faculty. I later advised PCMA that Deepak would be an excellent Executive Edge speaker. PCMA brought him in twice – as he was so effective.

Deepak has since written several books, including I Moved Your Cheese, a WSJ best seller.

Deepak recently provided some parting words of advice to the HBS MBA class of 2012. His views are relevant to every reader of this post. Deepak centered on circumstances and choice, the need to quit, value creation, conflict empathy, humility and life long learning. A few salient points from his remarks follow.

Circumstances and choice:

A Harvard MBA student has intangible assets and opportunity out of the gate, which far exceed 99.95% of the population. Circumstance has been kind to them, and to a great extent each of you as readers of this post. Our choice is to take our circumstances, make them work for us, and be happy throughout our lives. So many others have choices made for them. Largely we have choices to make. We should choose to be happy. When you have that choice and you don’t make it, it is among the great tragedies in life.

Quit – early and often:

You wouldn’t expect this from a Harvard business school professor, but this is precisely the advice he gave. Find out what feeds your soul. Don’t hesitate to quit because it’s bad to do so. Quit honorably, because it’s not for you and move on to what is. Tragedy is living a life where choices could’ve been made but were not.

Our purpose:

Doctors create better health. Teachers create a more learned society. Lawyers create justice. What do business leaders do? We create value. If we create more value than the money we take home, we are on the right track. If we take more money home than value we create, then we are unintentional thieves. It’s really that simple.


Conflict is most often created by the differing views of two people with good intent. Empathy is simply the ability to see the world through the other side’s eyes, and understand their view of the area of conflict. It matters most in dealing with others who seem to deserve it least.


The extent to which you solve problems will in large part be based on your ability to be humble. Humility and confidence are best friends.

Get your learn on:

Learning is easily the most inefficient aspect of our lives. We miss 99% of the learning opportunities that come our way. Be open to learning in any environment.

Deepak brought the unexpected to his discussion with these HBS MBA graduates. His salient points represent good advice and reminders of some very important principles that help everyone lead productive lives – to the extent they apply the principles he outlined.

You can join over 27,000 others who have seen Deepak’s presentation here.

- Tony Lorenz


Posted on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 at 11:57 am | Advice, innovation, Inspiration, Motivation

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7 Ways to Create Engagement During Your Online Event

Make It Meaningful

As the online event world continues to evolve, so does the attendee experience.  Multitasking in business seems at an all-time high due to todays do more with less work environment. It is imperative for online event organizers to design hybrid and online events with audience engagement at the forefront of their event strategy. 

There are multiple ways to hold the audience’s attention and create meaningful communications that enhance the overall attendee experience. As you craft your online event, consider these 7 tips that make the attendee feel important, informed, and engaged in a two-way experience rather than a one-sided monologue.

1. Utilize Your Online Event Platform’s Social Networking Tools

Your online event platform will offer its own set of social networking tools such as chat (group and private), message boards, email, badge and rating systems. Be certain you are aware of all of these functions and use as many as make sense with your audience’s interests in mind.

2. Incorporate Your Social Media Networks

Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be easily integrated into most online event platforms. The integration appears seamless to the user experience and attendees have the ability to connect and share feedback with other industry colleagues participating in the event. Don’t overlook assigning a qualified staffer to monitor and interact on your social media channels during the event – addressing both the good and the bad.

3. Utilize an Online Event Moderator

There are many roles for an Online Event Moderator – such as being onsite to ask questions posed by the virtual audience during the live session. Allowing for online attendees to ask and have their questions answered is essential to creating an engaging experience. In addition, a skilled online event moderator can become the “voice” of the show, creating casual event discussions and providing direction on the day’s agenda throughout the environment using chat and other tools.

4. Offer Games

Also referred to as “Gamification,” the use of this feature makes an online event more engaging and encourages attendees to participate in desired behaviors.  They are also fun! Most platforms offer games and have scoreboards/leaderboards. Dannette Veale with Cisco wrote a terrific blog about the tech giant’s show strategy and results using gamification/badging.

5. Prize Center

If your platform offers a Prize Center, use it! Attendees can accumulate points for activities such as attending online sessions, visiting the exhibit hall, downloading documents, participating in chats – all desired behaviors. Sponsors may want to contribute prizes or as the show host, you can offer a free pass/attendance to a future face-to-face or online event.

6. Surveys for Feedback

Surveys are helpful to the show host and offer your attendee a chance to be heard. Include session surveys that pop up when a session is finished as well as an overall event or environment survey. You can locate these within the environment’s navigation and/or include via a link in your post-event communication.

7. Better Sessions and Presentations

Don’t assume that your on-site session presenter knows how and when to engage with the online audience. In most instances, our presenters are not entertainers but professionals whose purpose is to educate and share their experiences. With a pre-event communication and an on-site prep session, you can give presenters the basics they need to enhance the online attendee experience. Basics such as session polling and verbally addressing the online audience shouldn’t be assumed. This blog post from Velvet Chainsaw provides good insight for online session presenters.

While face-to-face events can provide the most enticing engagement, with thoughtful planning and guidance the interactivity of a physical event doesn’t have to be lost in the virtual world.  And there are many of us who are more comfortable sharing their thoughts and asking questions behind the safety of a computer screen.

- Deb Greif

For more tips and guidance on crafting a meaningful online event strategy for your audience, reach out to us at or visit our website


Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 10:44 am | audience, conference attendees, content, digital events, face-to-face events, hybrid events, innovation, marketing, online events, social media, strategy, virtual events

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