Virtual entertainment was a phrase rarely used before March 2020. Live, in-person events are far more engaging and tap into the very essence of humanity – that of connection and connectivity – something virtual entertainment sometimes fails to offer.
The world of live entertainment has been on pause for nearly a year. This has meant that many companies, businesses and teams have opted to either postpone their annual conference or scale it down. Scaling their conference down has meant that event organisers decide to keep it as on point as possible. More often than not, they do without the traditional forms of entertainment, drinks receptions, awards, sit down meal, disco, and of course the expenses related to hotel accommodation and travel expenses. By keeping any conferences in-house and held over zoom, teams or a streaming platform of their choice they are also saving money on the technical team who would normally provide state of the art audio visual equipment, backdrops, custom graphics and more.
In these times of uncertainty, it is certainly understandable for event organisers to scale back their events, conferences and functions. With world and local economy feeling the pinch as we enter the recession, businesses and conferences need to keep a closer eye on their budgets. This is another reason for them scaling back their events and conferences.
After a year of uncertainty, instability, profit warnings and companies and businesses struggling to meet their targets, many are beginning to think of alternative solutions to the traditional in-person conference events. Alongside those businesses that are surviving throughout Covid-19, there are also a large number of businesses that have seized the opportunities presented by the economic downtown and are positively flourishing. Whilst they may not have the same budget restraints as those industries that are having to be cautious with their expenditure on conference and event organising, they are still restricted by government guidance on social distancing. Thus, these companies that are thriving in these uncertain times are also looking for an alternative to the traditional in-person event to reward their team or celebrate their unprecedented successes.
Those individuals and companies providing event entertainment have also had to adapt to this new landscape of conferences. Moving from live, in-person events, many professional entertainers have adapted their acts to be delivered on the virtual platform. This may be performing their shows on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Stream Yard or more. Certainly over the festive period in 2020, companies looked to provide their staff, team and employees with something to complement their online or virtual Christmas parties. And so, virtual entertainment was born. As virtual entertainment is a new medium or form of entertainment in the corporate world, many event organisers or planners will be in unfamiliar territory. They are so often judged on the quality of entertainment they are able to source and provide and congratulated on this. Having worked in the corporate entertainment field for over 10 years, and connected to a huge number of alternative acts, Duncan lists The Top 10 virtual entertainment ideas for your conference to help conference and event organisers to source only the highest quality, most creative form of virtual entertainment.
- Virtual magician
As a professional full-time iPad magician, it would be remiss not to include Duncan or in fact any virtual magician as one of the top 10 virtual entertainment ideas for your conference. Maybe this is biased but there really is no other form of virtual entertainment that can connect with your audience online and leave them feeling something incredible. This emotion could be amazement, wonder, intrigue or simply taking them back to their infantile state of astonishment when the world was unfurling before their eyes.
So what is a zoom magician?
A Zoom magician is a professional magician who performs a live show in front of an audience online. This could be through zoom, MS Teams or another form of in house conferencing platform. Some magicians perform a show where you sit and watch and enjoy. There is of course a little bit of interactivity but ultimately it’s a magic show that you watch and applaud on queue if you enjoy it.
Duncan William’s show is different. This is a 100% interactive show. Some of the routines he performs involves everyone at once, no matter how large the group is, some of the routines involve just a handful of participants and some are performed one on one. If you don’t want to take part you don’t have to but the more you do, the more fun you will have. His shows are typically 35-40 minutes in length and some routines can even be customised to the audience. Hiring a virtual magician is the perfect virtual entertainment idea for your conference as they will engage you team on a personal level and really customise it to your event, using your language.
You can find out more about Duncan’s online magic show here: https://www.magicduncan.co.uk/online-magic-show and watch his show reel below:
- Online chocolate making
Who doesn’t like chocolate? Chocolatiers and independent businesses have set up their companies over 2020 to offer online chocolate making as a virtual entertainment idea for conferences and events. You get to spend some time learning how to create confectionary, pastries and baked goods with a talented chef.
So what do you do in an online chocolate making session?
These are interactive sessions in which professional chefs will explore the science of chocolate with you and share innovative techniques and recipes created to introduce you to the art of chocolate making. In these condensed sessions, this background is often dispensed with and you’ll be led through the art of chocolate truffle making almost immediately. Prior to the event, everyone gets posted a box of ingredients required to make the truffles (with the exception of fresh cream) and you are then led through the chocolate making process. You’ll then be sent a zoom link for you and your team to access using your password and away you go. A simple search on online chocolate makers on Google will offer a range of suggestions for your event.
- Virtual cocktail making
Virtual cocktail making is very similar in its approach to the aforementioned chocolate making class. Again, you’ll be sent a small pack of ingredients to make the cocktails. You’ll then sign in to the zoom link with the password provided and if you’ve not already drunk the ingredients, your expert cocktail maker will lead you through the process of making some classic and more innovative forms of cocktails. Of course there will be plenty of tasting too which will no doubt end up in a few rosy cheeks and slurred words. It’s probably best to do this one after close of business. It’s worth considering that the packs of alcohol sent to team members, however, are only small and the actual volume of alcohol is not that much. Supplementation of your own spirits is often advised and encouraged. Of course this form of virtual entertainment is not quite a universal as a chocolate making session and certainly not as universal as hiring a virtual magician.
- Virtual caricatures
Alongside magicians and mind readers, caricaturists were a mainstay of aa conference or corporate event. Caricaturists would mix and mingle between guests drawing, sketching, and digitally painting their subjects in humorous and larger-than-life caricatures. 2020 meant, that much like the humble magicians their services were no longer required as a live events got indefinitely postponed and cancelled.
Much the same as many live forms of entertainment, they had do adapt. Many took to their online platform and pivoted into the role of virtualcaricaturists. They would attend any online or virtual events and whilst the event is happening sit in the background drawing caricaturists of the guests. Other clients choose to hold a one on one session with the caricaturist online whilst others opt to send the photos of their team to the caricaturist. In the last few years there has already been a shift in the way that caricaturists work with many moving away from the more traditional ink and paper form of drawing. No, more than ever, caricatures are being drawn on tablets and iPads using the latest in technology to enable them to use colour as well as just a basic colour palette. They then have the ability to send these caricatures to their clients individually meaning that this is a perfect synergy online.
No rolls of paper have to be sent out and in a different way can still provide a similar form of entertainment in this more virtual setting.
- Online Murder Mystery
Much like a virtual magician, an online murder mystery event is something in which your guests can really interact with one another. In a similar ilk to virtual cocktail making classes or online chocolate making classes, if you are taking part in an online murder mystery event – this will start with everyone receiving a character synopsis in the post. Some companies also provide a character description and prop to include. You get scripts and everything else you would expect from a genuine in-person murder mystery weekend.
A virtual or online murder mystery event offers up lots of laughs, interaction and of course mystery. Much like a virtual magician, this is a great way to get all of your team involved an participating in something original and unique which fits perfectly into the sphere of an online murder mystery.
- Virtual cooking class
Virtual cooking classes are relatively new to this list. However online cooking classes are a great way to get everyone together and cook collectively. Our only reservations with this is there are so many cook-along TV shows and YouTube videos, we don’t feel that offers anything particularly innovative or new for the virtual entertainment ideas for conferences. These events are often hosted by a trained or professional chef and a small box of ingredients are sent to you. Again, companies such as mindful chef, are already offering this service – but not to as a virtual entertainment option. That said virtual cooking classes are popular and if you are an avid cook can really tick some big boxes.
- Online themed events
An online themed event is perhaps the simplest option of companies to inject something different to their conference or event. An online themed event may encourage all the participants to bring props to take part in the theme or wear certain colours clothes. If the theme was music, everyone could bring a musical instrument and all enjoy a virtual jamming session. Other themes may be even simpler and be colour based, wear a funny outfit or another theme. There are external companies that can help contribute ideas and props to these themed events, but more commonly they are kept, in-house to keep costs down and bring out the creative side of the participants on the call or at the conference.
- Virtual concert
Of course virtual events can never take the place of live, in person events. However, this is the ‘new normal’ so entertainment agencies, performers and artistes have had to adapt accordingly. You can even watch a virtual concert. Whilst they is not a huge amount of adaption required here from the musicians, playing collectively without being in the same room as one another does present it challenges. As musicians adapt to cover their living expenses and clients crave live music, live shows and live performances, virtual concerts are becoming increasingly popular. You can browse the web to find upcoming concerts. Usually these are ticketed events and are open to everyone although there may be some companies offering private virtual concert hosting solutions.
- Virtual talent contest
Some companies also decide not to use external suppliers or agencies to create their own fun and virtual entertainment. One of the most popular of these is a virtual talent contest. These are a great way to get to know a little bit more about your team, staff or delegates and offers up some great moments of fun an laughter. If people don’t have a special skill or talent, they can choose something to learn to demonstrate to everyone. Some people play the piano; others sing, dance, perform magic or tell jokes. Some companies or hosts run this in the same style as Britain’s Got Talent with the hosts or the directors of the company playing the role of judges. Some even set up buzzers in their offices to simulate these even further. A virtual talent contest is a fun, free and comedy filled session. You may like to employ an external host, compere, judge or mc to host the event and evening to ensure that the words ‘fix’ aren’t shouted out behind the zoom screens.
- The classic – online quiz
The online quiz is the classic virtual entertainment idea for conferences. As the start of social distancing and indeed, even the start of the pandemic, companies and businesses and also families and friends opted to host virtual quizzes. After many months of hosting these and people happy to spend a bit more money over the festive period, event organisers began to find a range of other alternatives as mentioned above. However, the classic online quiz is still a mainstay of virtual event entertainment.
Each quiz format is different and companies even employ external quizmasters in an attempt to elevate the event and have a professional retain order. There’s no getting away from the classic online quiz, but after several months of quiz events the phrase ‘quiz fatigue’ also became a new phrase in the vocabulary of many.