Staying connected to your employees, team members, and staff during this time is extremely critical, which means you’ve likely joined the multitude of others who’ve started video conferencing. If you’re looking to take your video conferencing tool to the next level, you may be considering steps to expand your reach, boost your brand, and connect with your customers.
There are many virtual avenues you can use to reach your current or prospective clients. Whether it’s through an informational webinar, web-based training, or virtual networking event, many companies have started experimenting with different tactics to expand their reach – and it’s working. If your company’s in-person events have been impacted by COVID, now is the time to consider adjusting your strategy.
As training practitioners, Red Team holds many in-person trainings and events annually – we too have had to refocus our strategy and move all trainings to a virtual setting, all while retaining as many in-person aspects as possible. Through our research and practice, our team has developed a list of best practices to follow as we look to engage our clients through this new medium. If you’re moving your events to a virtual setting, here are seven tips you should follow for a successful, well-engaged event.
Disclaimer: This advice is prefaced that Red Team uses Zoom for all our public and private trainings and events. Some of this will be applicable to Zoom, most is general advice.
1. Make your content work for Zoom (or any other platform) – not the other way around. Your PowerPoint content may need to be re-worked to adapt to a virtual setting, which could include reconfiguring text-heavy slides and adjusting modules to elicit audience interaction by asking questions, using polls, encouraging dialogue, and facilitating exercises.
Pro Tip: Have another employee review your presentation before you present. Another set of eyes can help edit, but also identify areas for engagement as well.
2. Build in extra time for your presentation. Everything will take longer in virtual training due to users needing to get familiarized with the platform. What would normally take 5 minutes in person will take 3x longer, especially if you plan to use break out rooms or other Zoom features.
3. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning – make sure your internet connection is solid if you’re holding a virtual event. Good execution is key in these instances. If attendees leave with a bad impression, you could lose potential business. If necessary, you may need to purchase an Ethernet cord or separate equipment. Trust us, it’s worth it.
4. Become the expert in your video conferencing platform. Recruit your team members and hold multiple practice rounds. It’s important you know how to fully utilize the tool and it’s features. Practicing will also allow you to work out kinks and get you acclimated to presenting in a virtual environment.
Tips for Increasing Audience Participation
5. As the presenter, it is up to you to create the natural synergy of an in-person training that doesn’t automatically transfer to a virtual setting. You won’t be able to see and connect with attendees face-to-face, so maximizing the platform’s tools is key. If you’re using Zoom, here’s the features we use to drive an interactive experience.
- Polls – the polling feature allows you to pulse attendees in real-time. In Zoom, you can pose a question and have attendees answer it right then and there. This is a good way to gauge your audience and spur discussion.
- Chat Box – the chat box feature allows your audience to communicate with you and the entire group. Attendees can ask questions without interrupting you, provide insights, and feedback using this tool. If necessary, you can also upload documents here, as well.
- Breakout Rooms – in Zoom, you can create breakout rooms for your attendees. This is a good tool for having your audience work through an exercise. In the breakout room, attendees can talk freely, share their screen, show video – all without the rest of the group hearing or seeing their discussion. This is a great way to create a collaborative environment and encourage discussion. [Remember: this will take longer than anticipated. Refer to tip #2 above.]
6. Think through how you want attendees to participate. Whatever decision you come to, explicitly tell attendees at the start of your event or training. Tell them how to ask a question or to engage with the presenter. If you’re unsure, here are a couple questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want to allow attendees to unmute themselves to chime in, ask questions, or provide insight? [We use this method and it’s worked well!]
- Do you want attendees to stay muted the entire time and ask questions through the chat box? [If you go this route, you may need another person in the meeting assisting you on the backend. If you’re presenting, it’s hard to focus on delivering the content and responding to the chat box.]
7. Help your attendees avoid getting distracted by incorporating non-interactive engagement tools throughout. Let’s face it, there’s lots of opportunities to get distracted while sitting in an online event. An example of this is including a video in your presentation to demonstrate an idea or scenario you’ve laid out. It doesn’t have to be a serious video, it can be from a sitcom or TV show. This brain break will help refocus and keep attendees plugged into the presentation.
With uncertainty looming over the future of in-person events, it’s important to adapt your strategy and keep pressing on. This could be a new opportunity you would have otherwise considered, but could increase your digital footprint and brand awareness tremendously. With these tips, achieving a successful virtual event is well within reach.