Overcoming virtual fatigue with a stellar industry analyst event

After more than a year of virtual events and videoconferences, virtual fatigue is real. People simply don’t have the attention span for another long virtual event. Yet business must go on, and with the U.S. not quite ready to return to in-person events, virtual events are the only option to reach many at once. The challenge is to produce something that doesn’t fall into the trap of virtual fatigue.

For Citrix, part of the business that must go on includes its annual industry analyst event. Industry analysts are one of Citrix’s most important audiences and the annual event represents a critical opportunity for Citrix to educate analysts on the company’s latest strategies and solutions and engage them in dialogue. As its done for several years now, Citrix turned to Willis Collaborative to help bring the event to life, but this year we had the added the challenge of developing a compelling virtual program that overcomes virtual fatigue. Here’s how we did it:

Creating an engaging agenda: Willis Collaborative initially worked with key ELT, Comms and Analyst Relations stakeholders to develop an agenda that balanced analysts’ attention spans, their priorities, and those of Citrix. The result was a compelling program made up of two half-days with short TED Talk-style sessions broken up with various customer interstitials, breakout sessions, time for 1-on-1s, and breaks. The agenda was mindful of delivering the most important content in concise and compelling segments relevant to each analyst’s area, considerate of the different time zones analysts would be participating from, focused on keeping the analysts’ interest through high production values, and allowed analysts to still get important work done in their day with two 4-hour programs with breaks. Using an intuitive platform to host the event, analysts were served up the appropriate session or breakout, could see their customized agenda at a glance, pose questions in the chat that were immediately answered by Citrix stakeholders, and access supplementary materials on various solutions that helped reduce session length while still giving analysts the information they want.

Crafting compelling content: With the agenda set, Willis Collaborative then worked on crafting all of the main session content from start to finish. In this role, Willis Collaborative served as a valuable member of the internal team, leveraging our in-depth knowledge of Citrix’s business and the stakeholders involved to get from a one-line session description on the agenda, to a fully fleshed-out script with graphics. We worked with Citrix’s ELT, and the Comms, Partner, Product Marketing and Engineering teams to get briefed on their latest thinking and any product or partner developments we weren’t aware of and drafted verbatim scripts to be used on the teleprompters for filming. We then worked through rounds of revision with presenters, building the on-screen graphics to marry to the content in parallel. We led review sessions of all the content with the CMO and facilitated content edits coming from that, and led the in-person “dress rehearsal” the day before filming. And we were on-hand throughout the filming to provide notes to presenters as they delivered their content to camera.

Delivering high production values on a budget: To stay on budget while delivering high-quality, engaging visuals, we filmed at Citrix’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. Citrix has a number of core colors in their brand palette and we rotated through those for each segment of the program, lighting the office backgrounds with the core color of the segment during filming in order to match the on-screen graphics. It was a small thing but made a world of difference in the final product. Using a simple two-camera setup to help disguise edits and add some energy to the segments, we overlayed graphics over the left or right side of the frame in post so that the speaker was always in focus and there was no need to see a screen in the background. Where necessary, we took more complex visuals full frame. The end result was a stunning, high-energy and highly engaging production that analysts applauded.