Covid-19 has compelled people all around the world to move as many if not all their operations online. While WFH is not a new concept and a lot of companies, entrepreneurs and professionals have taken advantage of the internet to build their careers and businesses without leaving the comfort of their homes, for many, a complete virtual experience is entirely new territory.
Major functions that can easily transition online include meetings, conferences or even seminars. Virtual communication has greatly advanced in the last decade, with several easy to use tools readily available, and either free or very affordable.
Of course, having a virtual meeting or conference is quite different from sitting in a meeting room with all your colleagues or having an auditorium for a seminar. Here we have some tips so you can have a smooth online virtual meeting.
Remember the Environment
When you’re delivering a speech or a keynote in a live event, you may rely on hand gestures, props, body language or even intonation. But it doesn’t have quite the same effect when transmitted to someone’s smartphone or desktop computer. As you’re writing your speech or keynote, always keep this in mind. In place of these, find other ways to stress your points like slide presentations or even animated videos. This will help ensure that you get your point across to your virtual audience.
Use Video Whenever Possible
With small meetings or one-on-one’s, a simple teleconference can work well enough, but if you’re working with a wider audience, always push for video. Most video conferencing platforms, like Zoom, GoToMeeting or Skype, support video conferencing. Take your internet connectivity into consideration as well. Consider subscribing to an internet plan with a higher bandwidth so you won’t run into connection issues. However, you also need to consider that not all of your audience may have a good connection. It would also be a good idea to send slide decks or visual guides to send your audience in advance so they can still follow along.
Do Practice Runs
With a live event, you have professional A/V technicians in the background doing the heavy lifting, with a virtual conference, you’re serving as your own A/V technician. That’s why it’s prudent to test your audio and video prior to your scheduled conference. Ask several people (colleagues and workmates) to help you test, so they can also help point out possible technical issues, from your video being low quality to your audio lagging. Doing practice runs gives you ample time to fix technical issues before D-Day.
Assign Roles to Assist You
As with live events, you’re not the only one running the show when you have a seminar or meeting. It’s the same thing with any virtual conference. Ahead of your scheduled meeting, make sure to pinpoint the people who will be assigned to moderate, to co-host, to take the minutes/record the conference, to cue any visual presentations. Make sure everyone knows their roles and do practice runs with them so your presentation runs smoothly on an actual day.
Involve Your Audience
One of the advantages of an online conference is it’s easy to actively involve your audience without disrupting your presentation. Many online conference platforms allow you to do live polling and in a snap, you can get the opinion of your audience on some of your key points. Questions can also be forwarded to your moderator with chat options, or a designated Q&A time during or at the end of your talk.
Prepare for Technical Issues
Any virtual activity can be unpredictable. You never know what kind of issue you might run into. That’s why it’s always good to have a Plan B should you run into technical issues. You can prepare backup devices/connections that would allow you to still be present for your meeting. But should technical problems make you unavailable for the date and time, you may want to have someone capable ready to step up, or even prepare videos ahead of time.
Provide Additional Learning Materials
You can provide more value to your conference or seminar by providing additional learning materials for your audience for after they’ve attended your talk. This can range from a copy of your presentation, or a recording of the whole talk (which is a feature present with most online conferencing platforms) to extra information that was not included in your talk or even workbooks. This cannot make up for the energy and networking opportunities a live event gives you, but it opens up a new channel of learning for your audience.