Virtual meetings, conferences, webinars and events have a lot to keep in mind. //next has already compiled nine tips for participants - here are nine more pieces of advice, this time for the organisers and hosts of such meetings.
Nothing holds up a meeting more than failing technology. So test your equipment before hosting a virtual meeting. Even if you think everything is working, do it anyway. This includes testing your camera and microphone, having headphones to ensure the best quality, and always having a second device ready to use if there are technical issues. Pro tip: know how to share your screen in the meeting software, be it Skype, Teams, Zoom or other ...
Be prepared. Rehearse your presentation or meeting and make sure that you’re comfortable with the information being presented. Even if you can’t see them, your audience is right behind the camera, so don’t forget to activate them, ask questions and look them “in the eyes” – in other words: look at the camera, not the screen.
Even if this is a virtual meeting, don’t get too comfortable. Make sure that you’re in the right “mood” and don’t get unprofessional because you’re at home. As the presenter, try standing. This shows the audience that you’re present. Always be aware of the lighting, make sure you are visible and don’t blend into the background – use a virtual background if you’re unsure of the room you’re in.
It’s always a good idea to provide information on an agenda. If everyone knows when it’s their turn, there will be no misunderstandings and also no awkward silence because nobody knows who’s speaking next. When there’s a bigger meeting with many people and the possibility to ask questions, appoint a moderator beforehand to coordinate requests so that there’s no overlapping. This also ensures that you will have an efficient meeting.
As soon as the meeting begins and you start speaking, all eyes will be on you. What the audience wants to see is your presentation prepared and ready to be shown. What they don’t want to see is your MS Teams screen with the latest discussion about the AstraZeneca vaccine while you’re struggling to find the right file.
Of course, it’s not your fault that there’s always a construction site, a yelling lorry driver or blaring car horns outside your building. All the same, background noise can really distract and annoy your target group, so please choose a room that’s as quiet as possible.
What gets people excited about a virtual event and, even more important, keeps their interest going during the presentation, is a clear and diversified structure. Let’s be honest: One of the best parts of a real-life event is the evening get-together, with good wine and casual conversation. You should therefore always try to integrate coffee breaks and small talk to create a satisfying atmosphere.
There might be some events you just want to get over and done with and never have to think about again. However, your audience may have really enjoyed it and would be happy to have a follow-up or summary to keep your event in mind and give you some positive feedback that will brighten your mood.
Don’t over-complicate things. Language barriers are still a topic in our global century, so, if possible, always check out the language skills of your audience and keep your presentation free of unusual words and insider jokes that aren’t funny anyway.
Text: Anne-Sophie Hobl