Supporting Attendees for a Successful Virtual Event
To help our attendees have positive virtual experiences, let's set them up for success!
- Choose a platform that is easy for them to use while still providing the best features to meet the event's needs.
- Offer free virtual events using that platform so attendees can become familiar with it prior to putting money into pay-for, content-driven events. If this isn't an option, provide pre-event tours of the platform so attendees get a better understanding of what your virtual event is expected to look like.
- Remind attendees that just as when we attend an in-person event, it's important to set that time aside to be present for the virtual experience. Multi-tasking feels easier to "get away with" when doing virtual webinars, yet you'll find the experience significantly changes if you fully engage in the sessions online as you would in-person.
- Having a dial-in option with the video platform, or other web-based, non-video interaction option should be considered. If it's appropriate and useful, maybe a Twitter or Facebook conversation happening simultaneously to the video event can help bring attendees together (keep in mind, not all attendees will use any/all platforms).
- Make the event accessible. If attendees have needs, gather that information during registration and properly prepare accommodations as needed.
- Provide resources for engaging in virtual events to attendees, such as recommendations for how to setup their environment, maybe even provide some virtual backdrops for those that would like to use that feature.
- Record the educational content parts and share it out to attendees afterwards along with any resources such as slides, key takeaways from chat box conversations and more.
Support Meeting Attendees with the Tools to Show Their Video
- All virtual meetings are not created equal; set appropriate expectations and communicate those to attendees. A formal meeting with a client or partner may require more professional expectations than a 10-minute weekly "standup" meeting or brainstorming session with co-workers. Sometimes having that specified ("business attire" or "casual attire") can help with comfort level and helping attendees be appropriately prepared.
- All environments are not created equal; be understanding of the inequities that exist and may drive a person to NOT share their video. This could be that their home environment is not one they're comfortable sharing for any number of reasons. Their computer or internet may be significantly taxed by video and they can more fully participate if they keep video feeds off. Someone may not have camera capabilities at all.
- Encourage attendees to find a meeting spot or two in their house or work area. Take these things into consideration:
- Lighting. When the video is on, can we see you or what appears to be only a dark silhouette of you? Typically, bright lighting behind your head will cause it to overpower your face. Try to situate yourself facing a light source, or position a light shining towards your face.
- Background. What is behind you that you might not want others seeing? What distractions or movement will people see behind you? What interruptions might appear in your background?
- Noise. What conflicting noise might be heard? Microphones pick up a lot of extra little noises - from keyboard typing to sound machines to the computer fan itself. How can you best reduce the surrounding noise around you? Attendees that are unable to control some of that background noise should keep their microphones on mute unless they are speaking.
- Comfort. Are you sitting somewhere that you will be comfortable for the length of the meeting? Do you have everything you need nearby, including writing utensils, chargers, paper, beverage?
- Wear screen and microphone suitable clothing. Clothing in bright colors or bold striping/patterns can be harsh on people's eyes. Also, clothing or accessories that are noisy when you move will cause interference with your microphone. Avoid them if possible. And if you're using a green screen (either real or computer-generated), don't wear green 😊