Time for online events to get better
Even if Covid vaccination is nearly here, virtual events and conferences aren’t going away. Its time we all raised our game
Months after we all started using Zoom, Hopin, Microsoft Teams, HeySummit and other virtual event platforms, we really should be using them better.
The other day, I saw a delegate, named and visible in a well-positioned thumbnail, fall asleep. The chin went down, the head jerked up – you really couldn’t miss it.
It looked funny, but actually wasn’t. I was watching a replay, so the embarrassing incident is probably still out there, the person involved blissfully unaware……
Here’s some things for to event organisers, speakers and delegates consider:
- Speakers should be briefed on the basics of online presentation: camera in line with hairline rather than looking up nose; appropriate lighting and background; massive headphones avoided; slides with text and diagrams kept to a minimum
- Settings should be fixed so speakers appear as large as is practical on screen: reduced to a tiny thumbnail, speakers will struggle to hold the attention of and easily distracted audience-at-home
- Delegates should be told if and how they will be identified in live streams and recordings – and how, according the platform being used, they can withhold their name, image and other identifiers. While many will be keen to share information and network – the ease of which is one of the huge bonuses of virtual events – GDPR compliance is also a factor
- Settings should be fixed so that session or conference chairs can introduce speakers properly, ideally while appearing side-by-side on screen. Where slides are used, they should be set up so speakers can be properly seen and engaged with, rather than being reduced to a tiny thumbnail in a corner
- If replays are made available, many more people will watch these than the live event. This is one of the wonders of online and the ease of recording and publishing that goes with it. But recordings need to be properly set up, what the event host sees during the live event, won’t necessarily be what is being recorded.
- Replays should also, for reputational purposes if nothing else, be reviewed and edited. At the very least organisers should trim off the ‘I-think-you’re-on-mute’ bits at the beginning. Some of the serious technical hitches that I’ve seen reproduced in replays should also be removed
- There is a huge amount of unexploited marketing and communications mileage in this…. Highlights from presentations and panel discussions can be professionally edited and used for all sorts of promotional purposes by event organisers and speakers
- Pre-recorded sessions presented at the live event (perhaps with presenters participating in live Q&A afterwards) work really well. The presentation can be edited and adjusted to ensure quality, pace and viewability. It will not be subject to technical hitches or the need for good Internet connections. As a replay, the viewer experience of pre-recorded sessions will almost certainly be superior to live-recorded (and probably unedited) Powerpoint presentations.
- Pre-recorded sessions also create video content that is ideal for pre and post event marketing and communications, being eminently sharable on social media, and available for piggy-backing on the event hashtag
- Pre-recording content does require a certain amount of effort. Speaking well ‘to camera’ is a rare gift, while trying to self-record by reading a script from a monitor almost always results in a stiff and stilted performance and should be avoided if at all possible
- Having a collaborator ask you a set of questions, and then having the result edited together with images and text slides, will produce a much more natural, engaging and relatable performance. Given the saving in preparation time, and the ways in which the resulting content can be exploited, the modest investment will be well worth it
There’s plenty of poor practice about, so good really does stand out. As a viewer, this session from the Wales Co-operative Centre, which was part of Digital Leaders Week, ticks many boxes.
For more information on dos and don’ts, or to discuss support with staging, promoting, pre-recoding sessions, recording or publishing your event, please get in touch with Vicky at CLGdotTV
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