How do you make your next virtual meeting, training session, webinar, or other virtual event more impactful? Here are 5 simple expert tips from LifeLearn’s Manager of Meetings and Events:
Platforms Don’t Matter as Much as Preparation
Having used a wide range of online meeting platforms to host online events for clients, Lara doesn’t believe that the choice of platform really makes or breaks a presentation, unless the platform is wildly complicated and confuses and frustrated users . “What matters,” says Lara, “is your preparation and experience for the attendee.” From event registration to an event itself, “It’s a planned event.” Citing webinars as an online area in which many people just jump right in without much planning, Lara recommends anticipating and planning for the expectations of “individuals speaking, hosts, co-hosts, panelists, and sometimes even with attendees there are expectations as well,” adding, “Outlining your audience and truly tailoring [a presentation] to your audience to make them have the best learning experience possible I think is truly the ideal.”
Choose a Background That Aligns with Your Content
Backgrounds are important to online presentations, and platforms like Zoom certainly provide people with the ability to display any kind of background they can imagine, from beach scenes and theme park images to scenes from favorite TV shows. Yet the wrong background can detract from a presentation and lack professionalism.
“The norm for [online presentations] is, we should have some sort of background that makes sense,” says Lara. “They don’t have to be neutral backgrounds, but they can’t be distracting either.” In other words, if you’re giving a presentation about a serious subject while framed against a field of daisies or image from your favorite movie set, the disparity between subject and image will likely cause viewer confusion, and may cause people to discount the seriousness of your presentation. “You want to make sure,” says Lara, “that the background is conveying the right message to your audience as well and having that consistency between what people are actually seeing visually versus what they’re speaking about. It’s that consistency of message.” So, double check your background to ensure that what you have behind you will not distract from your message.
Production Values Keep People Engaged
Getting people to register for an online event, says Lara, comes down to “impactful content—something that people want to hear and are desiring is always going to be number one in who’s going to attend.” Yet to keep people engaged throughout an event, Lara says, “It’s the production value in ensuring that it is an environment that is conducive to the meeting itself. So, whether that’s having high quality lighting on your speaker or whatever that looks like in terms of the logistics behind it and the connection between the audience and the speaker, that really seems to be why people stay.”
Audio quality is an extremely important part of production value. According to studies by the Audio Engineering Society, people tend to react negatively toward any kind of video that has poor-quality audio, even if the visuals are spectacular. Inversely, people tend to enjoy and become engaged by videos with good-quality audio, even if the visuals are poor. For improved audio quality, Lara’s experience has shown her that “having an external mic is always effective or lapel mic rather than just using your computer mic.”
Pre-Recording an Event Is an Ideal
Though live online presentations are a necessity in many cases and often go off without a hitch, they also come with inherent risks like microphones cutting out, slides not appearing in time with a speaker, and any number of other unexpected production hiccups. Pre-recording a presentation, much like shooting and editing any video, eliminates such risks and offers ways to engage people that may not be possible with a live presentation.
“Pre-taping is always an ideal because you can have control of editing—a lot more control over the situation,” says Lara, adding, “By being prepared and having that recording, you can change the impact of what it looks like. You can add video. You can engage in different ways, do splicing, do different things with that. There are different benefits to it. If it’s a live Q&A session, you obviously need to have that live. The benefit to recording is some of the seamlessness that goes with it.” Overall, Lara has found that with pre-recording, “You maintain a lot of integrity with it because you can really give exactly what you want to give.”
Make Your Event Experiential
Perks and swag go a long way to immerse people in an online event, boost engagement, and make them look forward to your next online presentation. As an example, Lara recently had a veterinary client send out personal spa packages to staff members (relaxing therapy care kits, including healing masks and hand masks/lotion) so they could put their feet up and relax while taking in a bit of continuing education. “We know how busy clinics are right now,” says Lara, “and the all-hands-on-deck approach that a lot of these clinics have had to take with curbside service and all the various pieces like that. So, we’re trying to make it as comfortable and easy as possible.”
No budget for spa packages? “
“Sending in food is always a big hit,” says Lara, and it doesn’t matter what it is. The small gesture of thanks and thoughtfulness behind any complimentary perk, whether cookie-care package, lunch delivery, or customized water bottles, establishes and strengthens the human connection, which makes any presentation more impactful. Says Lara, “We’re so used to that face-to-face connection. Why not extend it as much as possible and give the experience of the face-to-face connection and build that community between your people that you’re working with but also as an extension of your appreciation working with that individual.”
In short, get creative and have fun, and you’re well on your way to delivering a more impactful virtual event.
LifeLearn’s Industry Solutions supports animal health organizations with creative communication tools and education programs and delivers them with unmatched coordination and logistical expertise. By working closely with clients, Industry Solutions find ways to elevate their brand or organization, enhance education through extension efforts, and strengthen communication with internal teams and external audiences.
For more about LifeLearn Industry Solutions, click here.