Virtual Events Spotlight
Guest Interview with David Clatworthy, Director of Operations, MSP Global
We are delighted to welcome a brand-new interview with a trusted event industry colleague and friend of Eventify, David Clatworthy, Director of Operations for MSP Global. We have worked together on a number of virtual event collaborations, seamlessly connecting audiences across the country and the world.
Welcome, David. Here at Eventify, we know you well, but can you tell us a little about yourself for the benefit of our readers?
Thanks for having me. I’m David Clatworthy, Director of Operations for MSP Global. We are a technical AV company recognised for our creative and innovative approach to event production. I am very much a hands-on manager and enjoy working with our clients, from handling their initial enquiry through to operating the final production.
So, how long have you worked in the events industry?
I have been in the events industry for over 23 years and 18 years with MSP.
Were virtual events part of your role before the pandemic started in 2020?
Yes, but in honesty, they were few and far between. Some events required a live stream to a larger audience or linking a speaker who couldn’t attend in person. But it was rare, and nothing like it is today.
What’s your favourite part of virtual events?
The end! I joke, but the truth is, planning and delivering a virtual event is intense pressure. It takes pinpoint precision and total focus to create a seamless event, and that’s without considering WIFI stability. That said, the satisfaction of positive feedback from our clients, their colleagues and delegates make all the pain worthwhile. We have recently run a series of exciting national and international virtual events, which have been hailed as the best events ever!
And your least favourite?
I guess my least favourite part is the screen time overload, which affects your sleeping patterns.
Hybrid or virtual? And why?
Personally, I would say hybrid. This option allows presenters to be in a studio setup without a live audience. The production value is maintained as it would be at a live event, and it is usually very entertaining! Furthermore, using green screen technology or an LED backdrop, we create a more interactive and enjoyable experience.
What do you miss most about live events?
Absolutely, face-to-face human interaction has been seriously lacking. I have missed meeting our clients for a coffee at the start of their journey, often ending with an alcoholic one in the bar at the end!
In your opinion, what’s the essential part of planning a successful virtual event?
In my experience, ensure you are working with the correct software to stage a completely interactive experience successfully. You need state of the art technical equipment for seamless transitions and the all-important secure broadband.
What do you find is the biggest obstacle for event planners when organising a virtual event?
Technical jargon can get in the way. I hear many different names used for an event stream. Once you strip back the technical layers, the client event is still the same. The organiser only needs to establish if the event is to be hybrid – presented and streamed from a studio. Or virtual – streamed online. Let your tech company worry about the rest!
What’s the greatest number of guests you’ve had logged into a virtual event?
In a single event, around 1,000 people. However, we are currently working on two events in April and May to be broadcast on TV, which is obviously a much bigger audience.
What’s the secret to making a virtual conference engaging for all delegates?
Timing is key. The length of time the event runs, so not too long and use content in various ways. Ideally, move away from the standard PowerPoint presentations and mix them up with green screen backdrops and overlays.
Do you think virtual events are here to stay?
Yes, without a doubt. Virtual events are a cost-efficient solution for many clients, not to mention the almost global limitless reach. Due to the growing demand, we are looking at expanding our studio offer at MSP to offer virtual and hybrid solutions long after we get back to some sort of normality.
Favourite event platform?
I guess it would have to be Zoom, with which I have a real love/hate relationship. It has lots of great features that people need for their virtual events, and with additions from other software platforms, you can add some excellent production value to the event. As most people are now getting used to using Zoom, it’s much easier for us to work with them through this system and into our virtual studios, even if we are streaming out via another platform.
And most importantly, your favourite Netflix series that’s helped get you through lockdown?
I would probably have said something like Tiger King or Umbrella Academy, but if I am completely honest, it is Peppa Pig. She has kept my 2-year-old busy for 15-minute intervals throughout the day, allowing me to go on Teams calls without having a child sitting on my knee waving at everyone!
Thank you, David, great to chat and earn more about your personal experiences of virtual events. We look forward to working with you and the MSP Global team again soon.