When the Digital Event strategy emerged in the Spring of 2020, it was out of necessity. The COVID-19 Pandemic forced thousands of ministry events around the country to make big changes, some of them in just a matter of days. When it came to Vision Dinners, many teams found that they needed to pivot away from an in-person event and provide an online-only option for the people who were planning to attend.
Those events varied drastically in quality, format, and outcome. Some teams learned their Vision Dinner had to be cancelled just days before it was planned - others had months make the transition. It was a new frontier for us here at TeamGold, because we went from advising people on their Vision Dinners (a strategy we've consulted on thousands of times) to this new thing that we were learning about along with everyone else. We originally advised teams to (for the most part) simply translate their Vision Dinner program into a 45-minute livestream event. Since then, though, we've seen dozens of these events happen around the country and we've learned a lot about what kind of program does the best job of developing partners.
In 2020, we went from advising people on a strategy we've done thousands of times to this new thing that we were learning about along with everyone else.
LESSONS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT DIGITAL EVENT PROGRAMS
Your viewers' time at home is precious - the worst thing that you can do is make them watch a program that's longer than it needs to be. If they are married or have children, the hours together during the evening are precious. They also likely had other things planned that night, so they're either depending on your event to be quick or they've cancelled the plans they had.
Competition for your viewers' attention is fierce - while your partners are trying to tune into your program, there is an endless supply of things to distract them. Whether it's their crying or hungry child, the dog that needs a walk, the TV on in the background, or the notification they just got, the longer your program is the less likely they'll be able to stay tuned in.
Partners need more than just surface level details - there were many events in the first iteration of Digital Events that chose to do a very short program of under 15 minutes. Some didn't even broadcast their program and opted to just email it out. These events were, on the whole, ineffective compared to longer programs. In general, if your focus is solely on ask the smallest commitment possible on your partner's part, you can expect to receive a comparable amount of partnership from them. If you are hoping to get a significant commitment from your partners, you need to allow for enough time to share the need and opportunities to give in a compelling way.
If your focus is solely on ask the smallest commitment possible on your partner's part, you can expect to receive a comparable amount of partnership from them.
WHAT SHOULD BE TRUE OF YOUR PROGRAM
18-30 Minutes Long - this is consistently the length of program that we've seen perform the best. It gives you enough time to get into details, while still fitting conveniently into a 30-minute timeslot for your partners. We provide sample schedules for programs that are 15 minutes and 40 minutes on TeamGold, but that is only because we know some will think it is still the best option despite the overwhelming bent of the data.
4-Minute Rule - never have a section of the program go more than 4 minutes without a new speaker, change of scenery, or other interruption to keep people interested.
Scripted Word-For-Word - this will make sure everything is communicated in a clear, compelling way. Read our Freedom of a Script blog post for more info.
Pre-Recorded - rather than attempting to stream your event live, make sure to record and edit it beforehand. This will increase the professionalism of your event and avoid many of the technical errors that live events are susceptible. We've seen many live events hamstrung by bandwidth issues, disconnections, and speakers running long.