Going Forward: 7 Trends Shaping Live and Virtual Events
The events industry is back open for business, but it’s not business as we used to know it. A new breed of hybrid event is emerging. It’s one in which some participants are beginning to attend again in person, while others are joining virtually from home or office locations — and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In fact, according to recent research, 67 percent of respondents agree that hybrid is the future of events.
This is an evolving situation after an incredibly tough time for both event organizers and professional AV equipment providers. Events that weren’t canceled altogether shifted entirely online almost overnight. With no other choice, everyone working in the sector had to explore virtual alternatives for physical events. The global Covid-19 pandemic became a catalyst for change.
Good Audio = Great Experience
One thing quickly became apparent: Without good audio for event live streaming, organizers simply wouldn’t be able to keep participants engaged and coming back for more. If people couldn’t hear — or be heard — no amount of video or other visual tools, such as presentations, would make an event worth attending.
This remains true as the events landscape shifts once more. Whether people join remotely or in-person at socially distanced venues, audio quality is integral to the overall event experience. And, in today’s consumer-oriented world, it is the experience that counts.
7 Trends Shaping (and Being Shaped by) Audio
At Shure, we’ve been looking into the trends that we believe are shaping an altered landscape, as AV professionals and organizers strive to deliver successful events. Businesses that evolve with these trends have an opportunity to maintain and even expand their position in a reinvented events sector as it ramps up again.
There is clearly a need for blended technology solutions that ensure natural communication for virtual, in-person and mixed formats, while being able to adjust to constantly changing conditions. What other trends should we consider from an audio perspective?
- Audio is essential — visual is optional
Enabling audio-only or audio-streaming options and providing event podcasts increases possibilities for virtual participation. It also addresses the growing (and new) phenomenon of ‘Zoom fatigue’.
- Safety is paramount
Attendees want to feel safe and comfortable. The ability to offer both online and (socially distanced) offline event participation with great sound for every participant is crucial.
- Engagement counts
A survey reported that one-third of planners considered engagement their biggest challenge when pivoting to virtual. Organizers aspire to provide interaction similar to live event experiences, but virtual event tech often falls short. Important to keep in mind is that poor audio can have a detrimental impact on how an audience engages with event content and exchanges ideas in the virtual space.
- The rise of non-traditional event venues
Research suggests the majority (90 percent+) of event planners are likely to book events in non-traditional venues that offer more space or are sited ‘locally’ to avoid busy urban areas. We’ve seen council meetings being held in school gymnasiums as a recent example. In these environments, lifting the constraints of cumbersome wired audio solutions will bring significant value. Cable-free setup can make these unique venues more accessible, while also minimizing the impact of temporary AV setups.
- Virtual events are evolving into TV studio productions
Productions in studio environments become more common as organizers are looking to deliver stable, high-quality event experiences from controlled settings. When offering a virtual broadcast, ‘anchor’ presenters engaging with attendees need professional audio solutions without interference or dropouts.
- The emerging role of the event AV producer
With the added technical demands of producing hybrid conferences – from local setups that integrate online meeting software, to real-time monitoring and support both on-site and virtually – the event AV producer’s responsibilities are set to become more complex. An advanced audio system that efficiently supports it all can help to lessen the workload, reduce time, cost and effort.
Of course, not all events will have dedicated, professional support, so easy-to-use technology will allow even non-technical users to set up their own audio in minutes.
- Group size remains between 50-100
Whether virtual, in-person, or mixed, there’s been little change to the average conference attendance, although small and simple meetings are set to be most popular this year. As the events landscape continues to evolve with the potential for more in-person attendees in the near future, the ability to expand and cater to different sizes and groups of users will be essential. An audio system that easily scales, with audio clarity and reliability in all event formats, will be ideal for this new normal.
Flexible Wireless Conferencing
Virtual access will remain in demand, even as more physical events return over the coming months. A conference solution capable of adapting to virtual, hybrid and live experience needs, such as the Shure Microflex® Complete Wireless (MXCW) system, will simplify event planning and execution, and provide flexibility as the events sector adapts to evolving trends.
The keys here are wireless technology and simplicity. Easy to understand, set up and use, with reliable performance that meets the demands for high-quality audio experiences in all settings, Shure’s MXCW provides a new solution to help shape the overall event experience.
We know that events will continue to be different, and MXCW is designed to make different easy for both AV professionals and event organizers. How? With flexible worry-free wireless conference audio that’s built to adapt to any event space and format.
Find out more
Conferencing and Meeting Application: Rental & Events
Microflex® Complete Wireless (MXCW) system
 100 Event Statistics (2021 Edition) by EventMB, published in February 2021.