With the coronavirus pandemic rocking the world, most large events and conferences have been delayed if not outright canceled. However, some organizers have managed to adapt to the situation and have instead chosen to move their events to the online world, making use of video conferencing technology in order to keep all parties separated to do their part in slowing the spread of the virus.
Video conferences are in no way new technology and there are even quite a few large-scale events held and streamed online every year. However, they are still in the minority meaning that most presenters, speakers, and event planners will likely have at best, limited experience with the medium. Because they are rather different from their face to face counterparts, virtual conferences require slightly different planning and preparation. Because of this, below we have provided a few tips on how to host a successful video conference.
Whenever possible use video
No matter how experienced or engaging a speaker or presenter is, without something to look at your audience’s attention span will more than likely be significantly reduced, and even using things like PowerPoint slides may not be enough. Instead, when the audience can actually see the speaker they tend to be much more focused and engaged with the content that is being presented to them, this means they remember more and are more likely to take in what they are hearing.
Now, we understand that when you are stuck at home it can be a challenge to find a good space to present from without showing off half of your own personal space at the same time, fortunately, there is a solution. Make use of zoom backgrounds videos – Hello Backgrounds provides hundreds of options that work directly with applications like Zoom and allow you to turn any room into your personal stage. Whether you are presenting a serious topic or even if you want to add a little humor to your content, there are plenty of choices so you can be sure to find something for any occasion.
Ensure your audio is good
Next up and equally important is the quality of your audio. Nobody wants to listen to a presentation if there is an echo or poor quality audio, many viewers will simply turn it off and those that power through will likely tune it out before long. The issue here is that while in the past you may have had access to high-end professional equipment, chances are that now you simply have your own computer to work with. Because of the poor quality that built-in computer microphones exhibit, we highly recommend that you do some research and purchase an external microphone as well as a pair of headphones. The headphones will prevent any sound from your speakers being fed back into your mic and echoed back for your audience to hear, something that is incredibly annoying and can make it hard to understand what you are actually saying. If you are a regular speaker it would absolutely be worth splashing out a bit more cash on a high-end microphone, but there are still plenty of decent options available for around $50 – $100.
Something else that can affect both your audio and video quality is your internet connection, so be sure to test yours and try to find the best place in your home to present from, speeds of at least 50mbps are a necessity but the higher you can get the better.
Ensure that any speakers have prepared for a virtual audience
Speaking to audiences in a large theatre or venue is a special skill in and of itself but unfortunately, it does not necessarily translate well to online presentations. There are some things that work well with a live audience that simply won’t when you are online and it is vital that any speakers recognize this and adapt their material to fit the technology. Things like visual cues and body language will likely not have the same effect online, so consider instead using things like pictures and videos to convey points and emotions that could otherwise be overlooked.
Interact with attendees
One of the biggest challenges that come with online presentations is that your audience may find it harder to interact with the speaker. Now while this may sometimes be a good thing, preventing hecklers and unnecessary interruptions, oftentimes you want to interact with your audience. Thankfully, there are also plenty of tools available to do this online. Be sure to make use of things like a chat function, polls, and surveys that can be completed with the results being provided to the speaker in real-time.
Test your setup
Just like with physical presentations, testing is essential to having a successful conference. The only difference online is that instead of working with a team to do things like sound checks, you will have to do them yourself. Make sure that you test your camera, microphone, and internet connection to ensure everything is running smoothly. These can all be tested through your computer settings, but we still recommend that you jump into a test call with a friend or co-worker to see how everything is in a live environment.
Be ready for technical issues
While testing should prevent most issues, always expect the worst and prepare for things to go wrong. It is always a good idea to have another speaker or host on standby who can take over and keep things moving in the event that problems arise. Make sure that this extra speaker is either familiar with your material, or has something related that can talk about while you get things working again. This is also a great time to make use of the tools for audience interaction as you can get feedback on how things are going.