The use of virtual events has become increasingly popular. While this may be attributed to the global pandemic, it is still a technology that people had started to embrace. Our objective is to look at how to run a successful Virtual event. First off, let’s first define what a Virtual event is.
What Are Virtual Events ?
This is a meeting that is held online. They are held on web-based platforms that are used to connect people across the globe through the internet.
Virtual events are divided into several categories namely;
Webinars – A webinar is a meeting that is held online through platforms such as Zoom or Google meet. The participants are able to listen to the presenter and participate through answering polls, asking questions or contributing to a discussion.
Virtual conferences – These are very much like physical conferences only that they happen online. They are beneficial for large groups with a set agenda that need to discuss their matters.
Internal Hybrid events – These are virtual meetings that seek to incorporate the participation of the participants while making presentations to them through online platforms. They incorporate features of a virtual event and those of physical events. They are conducted within an organization.
External Hybrid events – These are virtual meetings that seek to incorporate the participation of the participants while making presentations to them through online platforms. They are done outside the scope of an organization. It means that they constitute participants from different organizations
In order to hold a virtual event, there are some elements that one will need to use.
What are Virtual event elements ?
This is a website set up for purposes of marketing the event. As such, any information regarding the virtual event will be posted here. It also forms a good place for attendees to register their attendance and also place their queries concerning anything that is not clear to them.
It involves the collection of information by the event planners about the attendees. This can include their names, their location and occupation. Event registration helps the planners to have an idea of the number of people that will be in attendance and their specialty. This information helps the planners to prepare adequately for the event.
Live presentation content
This refers to the use of powerpoint presentations or slides to share information with the audience in a Virtual event. The presenter shares their screen to the other participants so that they follow what the presenter is doing. Live presentations are instrumental especially when presenting data such as financial projections, charts, bar graphs and diagrams.
Live, one-way audio/video
This takes place when the attendees view and listen to one person, usually the host or keynote speaker. The microphones of the attendees are turned off so as to minimize interference. It seeks to mimic a physical classroom presentation where the speaker is the focus of the attention. The participants mainly follow the discussion.
Question and Answer
It is an interactive session where the audience is able to ask their questions to a host. When the presentation is over, participants can be allowed to seek clarification on the matters discussed in the form of questions. This can be through the use of a moderator to whom participants send questions. Also, the participants may ask questions directly. The presenter then answers these questions appropriately.
This is a tool used in virtual events to get feedback concerning a variety of things. For example, live polling can be used to gauge the attendee’s appreciation of the content being shared. It is also helpful in ensuring that the participants remain active during the virtual event. Live polling is real time and can be done while a session is ongoing.
Note taking/favorite slides
It involves taking down notes while the host or keynote speaker makes their remarks. This can be done by one appointed participant or by every participant. As opposed to delegating this task to one person, attendees are encouraged to take down their own notes for their own future reference. However, when an entity holds a formal virtual meeting, note taking can be done by one member of the meeting who will then share it with the entire group.
This refers to sessions of the virtual event that have been recorded. While the presentation is live, it is possible to record the entire event. This recording can then be made available to the participants at the end of the virtual event depending on the policy of the event planners.
Interactive video conferencing
These are video conferences which allow different people to converse while in a virtual meeting. It seeks to allow interactions between the participants. This is suitable in a setup where a discussion is required. In order to handle this well, there needs to be a moderator who allows different people to speak in turns. This will reduce instances of confusion or participants talking over each person.
They refer to remarks by the attendees on how the virtual meeting was. These surveys can be in the form of questionnaires sent to each participant. It can also be verbal where participants air their recommendations towards the end of the virtual event. They can help the organizers to improve on future virtual meetings.
Now that we know what a virtual event is, we can look into ways to make it successful. Many would think that virtual events are easy to set up and run. This is unfortunately not correct. However, as we shall see they do need planning and preparation to ensure the meeting is smooth.
Tips on Running A Successful Virtual Event
Attendees are encouraged to turn on their cameras in a virtual meeting where possible. Communication is largely not verbal hence the importance of seeing the people in a meeting. A study conducted on the same showed that 55% of a presenter’s credibility was due to their body language while 38% was as a result of the tone of their voice.
Always mute your audio
In order to enhance the quality of a presentation being made, it is always good practice to ensure that one’s audio is on mute unless they have been asked to speak. It’s always a turn off to hear noises in the background of one participant in the middle of a meeting.
Test your software
Prior to having a virtual meeting, the participants should ensure that they have downloaded the software required and tested it. Failure to do so will mean that a few minutes will have to be spent bringing everyone up to speed, something that one could easily do before joining a meeting.
Have an agenda and a Moderator
The nature of virtual meetings is that they can easily spiral out of context or be intimidating to the participants. In order to alleviate this, it would be prudent to have an agenda in place. This agenda should be communicated earlier to the people who will take part in the event. The moderator comes in very handy in steering the discussion.
In a bid to make the session more involving, one should use interactive features such as polls, annotations, screen sharing and Q&A’s. This will make the participants active and liven the session. It will also help in involving everyone in the meeting.
At the end of the meeting, collecting feedback from the participants is an excellent way of gauging the success of the meeting. It will also provide insight into areas where improvements should be made in future.
The success of a virtual event lies in collaborating both technology and human resource to achieve the objective of the meeting. This is why time needs to be spent ensuring that every aspect of the meeting is covered. That said, it is possible to have great virtual meetings if these tips are implemented.
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