Forbes Events on Zoom: Connecting Influential Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs to Build Back Better
Forbes took its events virtual using Zoom to maintain a connection with key audiences, including emerging and influential business leaders.
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Challenges: Taking a renowned events business to a virtual space, creating an engaging networking and event experience for attendees while providing a seamless experience for speakers
Solutions: Zoom Meetings, Zoom Webinars
Business Benefits: Ability to host high-production events in a virtual space, creating an engaging attendee experience and providing a frictionless experience for speakers, seamless internal and external coordination
We are planning for hybrid events, and we know virtual is here to stay. It has allowed us to create new connections and engagement with the communities that matter most to us.
Leann BonannoGroup Vice President, ForbesLive
Since 1917, Forbes has championed success by celebrating those who have made it, and those who aspire to make it. Forbes convenes and curates the most influential leaders and entrepreneurs who are driving change, transforming business, and making a significant impact on the world.
The global media company has grown to become one of the most trusted voices in the business world and is also known for its unique and engaging events. Forbes events provide numerous opportunities for connection, knowledge sharing, and networking to create a thriving fabric of business connections and partnerships.
Taking a renowned events business virtual
Prior to the pandemic, Forbes hosted over 100 in-person events a year all over the world. From smaller, bespoke events for influential business leaders to larger-scale events hosting over 9,000 attendees at its Under 30 summit, Forbes’ events offer unique opportunities for networking and are a critical aspect of the business.
When COVID-19 swept across the globe, Forbes decided to take its events virtual to maintain its connection with key audiences and ultimately support these communities at a time when it was needed most.
“At Forbes, we’ve become known across industries for hosting extraordinary events that bring the world’s most influential business leaders together,” said Leann Bonanno, Group Vice President, ForbesLive. “When the pandemic hit, we had to completely reimagine the business. It was critical for us to develop a unique virtual platform that provided a seamless experience for our attendees, marketing partners, and the high-profile speakers that join Forbes iconic events.”
Leveraging Zoom for collaboration & connection
Some teams at Forbes were already using Zoom to collaborate and communicate internally. When Forbes transitioned to a fully remote work environment during the pandemic, its teams began exploring Zoom’s potential.
“There were pockets of people using Zoom before the pandemic,” Bonanno said. “We started to use Zoom more for our meetings once we were remote, and now many of our internal meetings are on Zoom, along with other collaboration technologies. As we worked closely with our production team to explore how we could best produce our events, we learned that we could also leverage Zoom as one of our virtual event platform solutions.
Creating a scalable, engaging & frictionless experience
Forbes leveraged Zoom’s features to create seamless experiences during its virtual events for both its audiences and speakers, hosting 66 virtual events with over 50,000 attendees from 188 countries in 2020 alone.
“We are pleasantly surprised by how virtual has allowed us to scale these experiences. For example, last year for our Women’s Summit, we had over 20,000 attendees register and over 12,000 check-ins, so being able to scale that conversation virtually allowed us to bring more people into the conversation and create a more inclusive community surrounding the summit was great,” Bonanno said. “Zoom’s [webinar] green room feature and Breakout Room functionality has also been very useful for our back-of-house production teams. For our virtual summits, we often have multiple speakers that all go on at different times, and it’s been helpful for our production teams to be able to create that seamless experience before pushing speakers to the virtual stage.”
The teams at Forbes also use Zoom to engage with attendees at their events, creating forums for dynamic conversations, fellowship, and connection.
“We’ve used Zoom Webinars to create structured discussions where we’ll have our speakers present, then promote certain attendees to panelists and host a curated roundtable with 20 to 30 people,” Bonanno said. “The various tools within the Zoom platform have allowed us to structure unique programming formats based on the goals of the event.”
Zoom also empowers Forbes to coordinate its efforts in tandem with its clients, creating an atmosphere where close collaboration is seamless.
Zoom has also allowed us to feel more connected with our clients. We often have a large team across various Forbes departments working together on a program and our clients also have large teams working on that same program. With Zoom, it has allowed us to humanize that experience, see everyone face-to-face, and ultimately drive more meaningful partnerships.
Leann BonannoGroup Vice President, ForbesLive
So, what does the future of Forbes events look like going forward?
“As our business and lives continue to shift as we re-enter the post-pandemic world, we are committed to continuously evolving and improving our events strategy to create the most compelling experiences,” Bonanno said. “We are planning for hybrid events, and we know virtual is here to stay. It has allowed us to create new connections and engagement with the communities that matter most to us. Forbes will continue to use Zoom as a strategic tool for events and collaboration both internally and externally.”