Whilst virtual or digital conferences and events aren’t an entirely new technology, the restrictions of the COVID-19 Pandemic has seen a drastic rise in businesses turning to the platform recently. From webinars, to launch events, to team meetings and industry conferences – online meetings have become commonplace and somewhat of a necessity during these times.
For many businesses, however, the idea of hosting a virtual conference can be daunting. But don’t worry, we’ve come armed with a handful of tips to get you started on the path to hosting an awesome digital event.
Understand the technology
First and foremost, its important to understand the technology you’ll be using and its purpose. All of the most popular video calling software have the same fundamental features, whether you’re using Google Hangouts, BlueJeans or the most popular platform: Zoom. Typically, the features you’ll need most are video capability, screen-sharing, mute button and a text chat for those not using a microphone.
Test, Test, Test
The last thing you want is to schedule an important meeting, only to have your video or your microphone functioning incorrectly. Run a test on your audio and video prior to starting – most video calling platforms offer tihis feature. This will also give you a good opportunity to see yourself on camera and how the other participants are going to view you.
Stage your video area
It’s important to remember that wherever you’re calling from, the other participants are going to see your surroundings. Try to stage your area with as few distractions in the background as possible to keep the focus on you and your presentation.
It’s easy, whilst working from home, to fall into the trap of just wearing what’s comfortable. Try to treat your online meeting the same as you would if you were meeting a client face-to-face. Be presentable and confident to ensure the other participants take you seriously.
Only invite people who need to be there
You may think that you need to involve absolutely everyone and their camera in the online meeting, but that’s not always the case. If possible, distribute the information and notes of the meeting via email to those that don’t necessarily need to attend virtually. It will save you some administrative hassle, and will allow the meeting to run smoothly and promptly – without the need for a dozen people to connect and adjust their settings!
Use the video option when possible
Whilst you may be using the screen-share function to show the participants a presentation, using your camera to show yourself (as the host) is vital for interaction. It will make the conversation feel more organic, giving the attendees less reason to switch-off.
If the meeting it private – make it private
Be careful who you share the meeting link with and send it only to those who need to be involved. If you share it on social media, for example, you can expect uninvited visitors. Some platforms offer the ability to verify participants when they connect – you may want to turn this on for your first meeting until you’re comfortable.
The host should be the last to leave
When you’re done wrapping up your virtual meeting, it can be tempting to just disconnect and breathe a sigh of relief. However, you may want to give ample time for any questions at the end, so that you don’t cut anyone off mid-sentence. Try sticking around until everyone has left to avoid any mishaps.
As the need for these types of platforms increases, the technology behind them only gets better and better. With tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom, most of the heavy lifting is done for you, leaving you to focus on simply hosting the meeting as though it were in person. For many people, it has already become the norm – so relax, prepare well and you’ll have nothing to worry about!