I was very curious about the transition of the NFL Draft from a live event with hundreds of participants and stakeholders to a virtual event, so I watched the first round of the draft with my husband on Thursday evening.

There were numerous take-aways for professional event planners to consider as we navigate our upcoming events over the next 18 months. I narrowed them down and noted five (5) key take-aways below —

1. Understand that Virtual Doesn’t Always Mean Inexpensive. Now, I’m not saying that virtual NFL Draft cost more than a live NFL Draft, bu the manpower, the technology, and the additional production needs weren’t inexpensive either.

2. Consider Pre-Recording a Portion of the Event. From the looks of it, Jennifer Hudson’s performance was pre-recorded. So, she was able to include her back-up singers and provide an edited, more coordinated production in advance.

3. When it Comes to Technology, Try to Set (and then exceed) the Audience’s Expectations. The NFL commissioner stated (prior to the start of the draft) that there may be technology glitches but they will do their best to rectify them immediately. There were very few glitches, so the viewers’ expectations were probably exceeded.

4. Don’t Underestimate the Old School Back-Ups. Several of the NFL team headquarters included landline phones with multiple phone lines. This may have seemed archaic, but they probably presented excellent back-ups in case any of their Wi-Fi or VOIP stopped working during the draft.

5. Make Sure Your Participants Have All of the Necessary Materials in Advance. The top tier players were given all of the team hats in advance, so they would be able to wear the hate of the team that drafted them at the appropriate time. This small, but important detail makes the transition from live to virtual events feel seamless.

My final thoughts. Considering the circumstances, I thought the NFL did a good job on the production of the virtual draft. A great deal of pre-planning and on-site manpower helped to make the transition from live to virtual feel seamless. Unfortunately, the energy, the emotion, and the excitement that you get from human connections at live events weren’t present. And, we event planners, will need to bring that to our virtual events to keep the participants happy and engaged every time.

Kawania Wooten is the principal consultant at Howerton+Wooten Events, LLC.  Known to her friends and family as Kay, she uses artistic skills, her keen attention to the smallest details and her strong commitment to customer service as the hallmark of her business.  As the founder of the company, Kawania strives for professionalism, creativity and impeccable organization within every function planned by Howerton+Wooten Events.