Increase Your Virtual Event Success With These 4 Steps
Running a virtual event can feel both overwhelming and simple at the same time. And if you are in charge of running virtual events, you will deal with a variety of virtual-experience and comfort levels among your presenters.
On one hand, there are the pressures of “going live” to a virtual audience. To a presenter, this is a far different experience than speaking in front of a crowd. It can be anxiety-producing in new ways that even the most experienced presenters haven’t faced.
On the other hand, given the proliferation of out-of-the-box virtual applications that enable everything from small group meetings to webinars and live streams (Zoom, Webex, Facebook Live, etc.) some presenters may feel extremely comfortable “clicking a link and going live”.
No matter which end of the spectrum you or your presenters fall, it’s important to carefully prepare ahead of a live virtual event. In fact, it is more important now than ever given new challenges, including:
- Geographically distributed presenters, all on different wifi connections, and using different laptops with varying degrees of quality.
- A combination of presenters at each end of the experience and comfort spectrum outlined above.
- An audience that is far less forgiving (even than they were three months ago) when it comes to experience and quality.
When you’re hosting a live event on campus, you have a captive audience. If the laptop hosting your PowerPoint freezes or your microphone cuts out, they’ll sit and wait while your A/V department fixes the problem.
The same does not go for a virtual event! If/when there are audio or video issues, you are virtually an “X” button click away from your interaction with the audience being over.
4 things to check and prepare for
At PlatformQ Education, our live event production team schedules a prep call ahead of every live webcast with the presenters for that event. During that time we look for four things to ensure your live event will go off without a hitch and provide the best experience for your student audience.
- Upload speed of your machine
Presenting a large scale webcast, just like if you were talking to someone on your cell phone, requires a strong enough upload speed to send a high quality video signal to your audience via your webcast streaming platform. Ahead of every live event (both during the prep call and immediately prior to the program) our team tests your upload speed to ensure you have a strong enough signal to steadily present to your audience. This minimizes issues we’ve all experienced via a standard meeting software — drags in video or audio which can negatively impact user experience. In the event that a presenter’s upload speed is not strong enough, we advise and support on ways to improve performance. These steps include potentially changing their physical location, logging off multiple devices using their home WIFI, or even shifting to a hard-wired connection to boost performance.
- Platform Walk Through
For presenters who are not as comfortable with webinar presentation tools, our team takes the time to walk through the various elements of the presenter studio … including basic elements like using presenter chat and slide transitions to more advanced resources like launching in-event polls and pre-recorded videos.
While many small meeting software platforms allow for the use of these tools, they are oftentimes overlooked, or worse, used incorrectly which can negatively impact your audience’s experience as well as cause unneeded stress for presenters who may already have a high level of anxiety. By walking through each feature in a test environment, our team diffuses what can sometimes be an overwhelming experience for some presenters.
- Lights. Camera. Action!
Another often overlooked element of a virtual event is the lighting for each presenter. While we may believe we look good on a webcam, our team takes the time to evaluate the lighting for your space as well as your background to ensure you are putting your best, professional foot forward.
The lighting for your presenter, when done poorly, can create a negative experience for your audience. They become more invested in the presenter’s poor video quality than the content itself. Our event production staff is trained in effective measures to boost virtual event quality … from helping to shift lights to moving background distractions.
- Stress Reduction
A prep call allows presenters to take the time to ensure they can present stress free during their live presentation. While many of the issues that our team covers and supports may be addressable quickly (5 minutes or less), the reality is that presenters shouldn’t have with the stress of moving to a better position or changing machines immediately before “going live”. We want to ensure presenters are comfortable and confident. Prep calls enable the presenter to be put in the best mindset without feeling rushed on the day of their event.
Make it part of your workflow
Just like we have meetings ahead of campus events to ensure we’re prepared, a prep call should be considered an essential part of the planning process for your virtual programs.
No matter how well prepared you are, circumstances change. By planning ahead and preparing you ensure that your team is in the best position possible.
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