IU Event Pro service launched to assist university community with virtual events

After creating a successful and well-received commencement website, University Events is offering its virtual event hosting services for Indiana University departments and organizations.

A screenshot of a virtual awards banquet showing the faces of a female student and six presenters.View print quality image
University Events launched IU Event Pro to aid with the creation, planning and execution of online events for IU departments and organizations. Photo courtesy of University Events

It has launched IU Event Pro, a service to aid with the creation, planning and execution of online events. IU Event Pro handles the logistics, safety and security of an event, and also focuses on the guest experience.

University Events, which manages large and important functions such as commencement at all IU campuses, had to create memorable, virtual commencement programs once the novel coronavirus pandemic prompted the university to cancel live events.

What was learned from that experience is now being offered as help for hosting IU events internally or for external audiences.

"Our team thought there were a lot of events that could move to online versions to help celebrate other milestones," University Events Executive Director Doug Booher said. "IU Event Pro creates a standardization and a higher level of professionalism with presenters."

With IU Event Pro, a team of University Events staff members is personally engaged with a virtual event project from start to finish, to help design and facilitate unique and customized experiences. Until now, it has offered a tip sheet for virtual events on its website.

IU Event Pro service begins with understanding what outcomes the presenter wants to achieve and considering all possible elements that could be needed, such as music, videos and invitations, Booher said.

A man wearing headphones speaks online with two other men during an online event.View print quality image
Technical assistance, including for the day of virtual events, is provided by University Events through its IU Event Pro service. Photo courtesy of University Events

University Events staff also will work with presenters to create the best lighting and sound, choose the proper microphones, create scripts to follow, and even designate a backup master of ceremonies in case the primary person encounters technical difficulties. Staff will lead the hosts through a dry run of the event, to work through any possible glitches, and provide real-time technical assistance during the actual event, Booher said.

"The University Events team will provide a level of comfort and overall reassurance to campus units as we navigate virtual events," said Mike Santa, a contributor to the University Events team. "The great thing about this talented team is that we can provide a wide range of expertise, including overall event design, technical support and attention to the small details that help personalize an online experience for our guests."

The University Events team was in the final stages of commencement preparations when university leadership decided to cancel live events because of COVID-19.

"We quickly had to reimagine what a meaningful experience would look like for students and families," Booher said.

The virtual pomp and circumstance included a special website and iconic campus backdrops to aid with photographs.

"Going through that process in a short time, we learned a lot about how to use different virtual media to engage an audience," Booher said.

The idea for IU Event Pro stemmed from the realization that campus partners are working hard to convert their events and content to a virtual experience, but do not have the time or expertise to learn the software platforms and security to host their event, said Brandon Cavaness, director of event systems and information for University Events and IU Auditorium.

"We want the technology to become transparent to our partners so they can focus on the content and we can focus on the logistics, as we did when executing in-person events," Cavaness added.

Those interested in IU Event Pro services should contact University Events at iuevents@iu.edu. Requests will be evaluated individually to determine whether IU Event Pro is well-suited for planned events, Booher said.