While I believe the world will begin to normalize over the summer, large gatherings will probably have limitations for a lot longer, perhaps well into next year. This means that virtual events will remain the way people congregate for quite a while, and they probably will become a permanent fixture. However, the novelty of the typical virtual event on Zoom or WebEx where people are being interviewed in their living rooms or playing acoustic guitars was cool in the beginning but is going to get old pretty quickly. One scan through social media and it seems like everyone has become a virtual talk show host, conducting interviews, doing online presentations and trying to build their own media company. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, except that most of the content is pretty bad.
With so many virtual events happening online, it’s going to get harder for any company or organization to distinguish themselves unless they find a way to do it better and in a far more interesting way. I’m sure there are plenty of companies working on this right now. Epic Games, the owner of the wildly successful video game Fortnite, experimented with blending Fortnite with a concert, starring rap superstar, Travis Scott. I don’t play video games, but I think mixing genres like this is an interesting idea and it makes me all but certain that virtual events of the future need to be as entertaining as they are informative. When podcasts first emerged, they were very raw and organic, but when they began to take off, a cottage industry of podcast producers, promoters and media platforms emerged. Podcasts have since become a billion-dollar industry and the product itself has become much more produced and polished. I think we should expect the same to happen with virtual events. A huge industry of producers, platforms, and creative consultants will likely emerge – and virtual events as a product will get much better.
In the meantime, if you’re one of those wannabe media stars, good luck, but my strong advice is to try to produce a product that is totally original in the content you provide or the method it is delivered. If you are emulating someone else, or doing things in a way that others are already doing, you’re just wasting your time. There is a saying in entertainment, “There are only two types of products, totally amazing and complete crap”. If people don’t think your product is totally amazing, you know where you stand. The next big thing is here and it is right in front of us.