While video conferencing platforms like Zoom existed before the global spread of the coronavirus upended the world, Zoom truly revolutionized how we connect with one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. By the second quarter of 2020, Zoom joined Pokémon GO and TikTok as the only apps to be installed over 300 million times in a single quarter. After nine months of hosting virtual events on Zoom, here are three of my biggest takeaways.
The Rise of Virtual Meetings and Webinars
First, know what you are looking to accomplish with your event. It is important to know that you can deliver a world-class event, virtually, using a Zoom meeting or the Zoom Webinar platform. Meetings are best used for group collaboration, team meetings, sales demos, online learning and training sessions. All participants can easily see and hear themselves and their colleagues are able to interact and share with one another and the host.
When presenting to a large audience, the Webinar platform is ideal. Webinars allow the host to have the most control over the attendee experience, managing the attendees’ use of audio and video functions. Plus, webinars put the focus on the presenter or panelists. The audience joins to listen, learn and ask questions at the end. Even better, the platform empowers hosts to incorporate live polls or conduct a Q&A session to keep virtual attendees involved and make the experience engaging and interactive. Here are more tips on how to decide what kind of virtual event is best for your company.
The number one question asked when setting up live virtual events is, “should I do a webinar or a meeting?”
When presenting to a large audience, the Webinar platform is ideal. Webinars allow the host to have the most control over the attendee experience, including managing the attendees’ use of audio and video functions. Webinars put the focus on the presenter or panelists. The audience joins to listen, learn and may ask questions at the end. Even better, the platform empowers hosts to incorporate live polls or conduct a Q&A session to keep virtual attendees involved and make the experience engaging and interactive. Here are more tips on how to decide what kind of virtual event is best for your company.
“You Are Muted”
This has to be the most commonly used phrase of 2020, which brings me to my second tip. Always do a rehearsal before any live event. The last thing you want during your company’s webinar is to have your presenter speaking while muted, with the camera at a horrid angle — exposing their 11 chins and showcasing some totally inappropriate visual in the background. That is my worst webinar nightmare.
I suggest doing two rehearsals — a full run-through a week before and another practice run 30 minutes before the event. Never start a webinar without doing a quick technical check before going live. These rehearsals not only help identify any technical issues but also allow time for production managers to troubleshoot everyone’s cameras for light, sound and background problems or anything else that could take away from the professional production of the show.
The full rehearsal helps clients familiarize themselves with the platform’s controls and designates practice time. Practice, practice and practice again. Did I mention that you should practice? This cannot be overemphasized, even when you know the topic inside and out. Not only will you become more familiar with the presentation, but it also will help you feel more comfortable when it’s show time.
Practice speaking slowly because some computers and speakers may not be top of the line, and participants could have difficulty hearing you. Also, be sure to time yourself so that you stay within the time limit. You will sound much more professional and prepared when you practice ahead of time, and it’s easy to spot the difference between events that do a rehearsal and those that do not.
Help On The Way
Last, and most importantly, ask for help. Putting on an event of any size is a lot of work. The most successful events utilize a dedicated production team. As cheesy as it sounds, teamwork really does make the dream work. There are few roles more important in event production than the role of the producer. At MAPRagency, we are responsible for essentially planning and coordinating all event activities on behalf of many of our clients.
Hiring a production company may seem extravagant, but it can actually be one of the best things for your virtual event. Let us handle the hard stuff and ensure the production runs as smoothly as possible. We work with businesses of all sizes, from local startups to multimillion-dollar global organizations. Let us know how we can help produce your company’s next virtual event.