The concept of the virtual event is not new. In fact, online events have been gaining in popularity over the last decade or so. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, push came to shove and the pivot to the digital realm became necessary for survival. Now, as we start to see a small glimmer of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, you may imagine that there’s a rush to move all events back to in-person. But that’s just not the case.
Why Hybrid is Here to Stay
There are certain aspects of an in-person event that are irreplicable. For example, networking feels more organic as participants can circulate through a space and sense each other’s energy and body language to evaluate if a connection is worthwhile. Live demonstrations help to capture an audience’s attention and facilitate an engaging educational opportunity. And, of course, in-person events cultivate a sense of immersion and presence as most attendees have cleared their calendars for the duration of the event.
But, as is so often the case, technology is quickly sprinting along to meet the new demands of our modern world. Virtual event platforms may have started as simple webinar tools, but are now expanding their horizons with incredible innovation. Many platforms have designed networking features that operate similarly to speed dating, giving matched participants a few minutes to chat before cycling on to the next. These platforms also allow hosts to easily weave together a mixture of visual tools and presentation materials, keeping their audience engaged. Furthermore, every single participant gets a front row seat!
Hybrid events are convenient and accessible as participants can choose to join from the comfort of their own home without concern of cost, distance, time, or even something like childcare services. Interestingly, it seems that hybrid events also enhance the educational component as content is more engaging and there is more opportunity to learn from things like Q&A sessions with guest speakers. Hybrid events are more cost-effective because hosts don’t need to rent a large venue, paying the overhead costs of production for a large audience.
Even with all of these benefits, there are certain challenges that come with hybrid events. Thankfully, expert Mark Antoine has found his niche market in this space – helping even the most inexperienced host to run a seamless event that is memorable and fun.
Inspired Keynotes to the Rescue
In his youth, Mark had a double lisp and misaligned teeth. He was very shy and would always blush with anxiety when he had to speak in class. But, he would not let that stop him from pursuing his dreams. He went on to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, while working for Disney Business Solutions in Paris as an emcee to pay for his tuition.
Although Mark was immediately drawn to work in public speaking, he explored many different avenues. In the early days, he performed as an actor and then as a TV host for France’s version of the popular kids show Artzooka – a show that has more than 7 million views on YouTube and that made 35% audience share. However, he found his true calling when he began working with corporate events.
Mark founded Inspired Keynotes to help corporate employees become confident speakers and charismatic leaders. He now has over 17 years of experience in emcee and keynote speaking, giving him a wealth of knowledge to share with his clients. According to Mark, a crowd of corporate employees is one of the most challenging audiences because they are not really attending the event by choice, it is more of an obligation. And yet, somehow, this is the environment where Mark truly shines. For corporate clients, he is the jack-of-all-trades.
“I help corporations build the storytelling of their events. I host and MC the event for them, and train their speakers to present during the event so everyone is looking the part. I see a corporate event like a play. … I help write the best play possible, train the cast and then rehearse until showtime,” Mark explains.
Mark has worked with speakers from all walks of life — from every fortune 500 company and every level of seniority. He has also worked with such prestigious brands as LVMH, Porsche, Danone and major players in the event industry like Comexposium, a world leader in event production with more than 135 events in 22 countries. What makes Mark stand out is that he realizes that most of these corporate leaders and speakers are nowhere near excited about public speaking. In fact, many of them feel that they are forced to take on this very uncomfortable role, almost as if there was a gun pointed at their head.
George Wills, CEO of Porsche, shares that “Mark is a highly professional individual willing to collaborate and share his ideas and experiences, whether its master of ceremonies, segment linking and interviewing or reinforcing corporate messages and hosting our awards ceremony. He was always willing and able to adapt to whatever was needed, making him a joy to work with. I have no doubt that Mark’s charismatic style and professionalism contributed significantly to the success of our event! He added real value and gloss to the entire proceedings.”
Now, as Mark sets his sights on the future, he sees new areas that must be refined for his clients within the model of hybrid events. Often, the format will be a multi-camera TV setup at the corporate head office. Speakers need to be trained to look at the right camera at the right time, to use a teleprompter and to look the part both on and off-screen. With more pieces to manage and consider, it can quickly become an overwhelming scene.
For Mark, turning a captive workforce into a captivated audience is not only a skill but a true passion. Not only that, he helps companies to deliver an experience as well as a strong message of confident and charismatic leadership. He encourages clients to remember that “When you walk to center stage to deliver your presentation, you are here to change them, change the audience, change how they feel or how they think. Not be changed by them.” This means that any speaker can find this inner power and, with Mark’s support, they can make any style of event a huge success.