Black Hat Asia Offers Blueprint for Virtual Events to Follow

February 3, 2021
Black Hat Asia Offers Blueprint for Virtual Events to Follow

Need proof events are learning to adapt to the new world? Black Hat Asia 2020 scored remarkable feedback from attendees at last fall’s tech/cybersecurity summit.

Held virtually for the first time in its existence, the conference scored well above the norm for 2020 virtual events. The takeaway: Virtual events can be extremely effective—if executed correctly.

Citing engaging speakers, high-end production, exclusive and relevant content, survey results found:

  • 95% of respondents were satisfied with Black Hat Asia 2020;
  • Close to 90% would attend another event organized by Informa Tech
  • The event received a +41 Net Promoter Score, ranking how likely they are to recommend the event to a friend or colleague in the industry.

Explori is a U.K.-based research firm concentrating on the events industry. Since March 2020, it has sought metrics to rate the attendee experience at virtual events to help planners derive best practices and improve engagement.

Its findings for Black Hat’s event, held Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2020, using Singapore’s time zone, were remarkably higher than average. For instance, attendee Promoter Score typically averaged a +10 for virtual events last year, well short of this conference.

Richard McCarthy, senior marketing director at Black Hat, credits a thorough vetting process and clear organizer objectives. “Know what makes your event unique and play it up really well,” he said.

The conference offered training and seminars in cutting-edge tech fields. Keynotes came from Brigadier General Gaurav Keerthi, deputy chief executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, and Daniel Gruss, assistant professor at Graz University of Technology, both of whom provided strategies to improve security operations as threats continue to mount.

The Black Hat team organized studios for speakers to pre-record their presentations in a controlled environment and with an experienced crew available. Those unable to use the studios were sent proper lighting and equipment to improve home presentations.

Among the advice McCarthy offers virtual planners:

  • Have speakers available for live Q&As
  • Check and recheck all broadcast elements prior to going live
  • Most importantly, don’t cheap out on production quality

“It was absolutely worth making that investment in the content delivery,” McCarthy advised. “Treat your event as a broadcast and not as a static website. You have to treat it like you’re producing for Netflix or network TV. It’s got to be high-end and it’s got to be seamless.”

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