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Best Practices for Hosting an Online Event

Hosting your first online event, but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry – many others have experienced the same dilemma.
An online event isn’t nearly as expensive or time intensive as a physical event. However, it can still pose challenges especially if it’s your first time. Here are some tips for preparing and conducting your online event to ensure you achieve the results you desire.

Choose an Appropriate Online Environment.

One aspect of online events often overlooked is the aesthetic appeal and use of the event platform features. Sure, you can conduct an online event as you would a webcast or webinar, but that would grossly underutilize the technology available to satisfy your event objectives.

Online events take place in virtual venues or environments designed to mimic physical exposition centers and other locations. There are no limits. You can design, produce, and configure any environment you can imagine by deploying out-of-the-box templates or 100% custom solutions to fit your event needs. Choosing the right environment is critical because it impacts your audience engagement with thought leaders and other attendees as well as your organization.

Timing is Everything.

You may find opportunities at a physical event to speed up or slow down content sessions, which are not always available online. Timing IS everything – period.

It is crucial to plan all of your presentation materials in advance. Understanding session or presentation content as well as Q&A timing ensures your attendees are able to plan their days accordingly. It is important to remember this because online attendees may handle other tasks and responsibilities while attending your event. Typical presentation content/Q&A timings include:

    • 45min/15min (1 hour)
    • 30min/30min (1 hour)
    • 20min/10min (30 minutes)
    • 15min/15min (30 minutes)
    • 10min/5min (15 minutes)
    • 5min (5 minutes of content only)

Lastly, make sure to send out access codes and other pertinent event information early to your guests to limit access confusion. Start a few weeks in advance and follow-up as needed to ensure attendance is high. Ask your guests to join 10-30 minutes early. This small window of time will help ensure enough troubleshooting time if attendee connectivity problems exist.

Choose a Great Online Presentation Service.

You do not need as many materials and tools to present online as you do physically, but that does not mean you should overlook the proper tools.

Along with your engagement strategy, internet connection, microphone, presentation materials, telephone, and webcam, you will need a webcasting service such as INXPO. INXPO’s webcasting product allows you to create a customized branded webcast with all the features you need such as group chat, ask a question, social media integration, synchronized slides, mobility, polling, testing & certification, and many others to fulfill your presentation goals.

Minimize Distractions.

Participants in your online event may join from home, office, a sandy beach, or crowded commuter train.

Why is this important to note?

Regardless of where your attendees or presenters are, it is useful to advise elimination of distractions such as websites, YouTube, Facebook, and other physical distractions. This applies to the event owner as well. Advise your participants to attend in quiet rooms so background noise does not interfere with conversations or presentations. If a presenter is in a noisy environment, ask that they mute their lines until absolutely necessary. Remember, noise is a major distraction and may be viewed negatively – especially for audiophiles.

Use Proper Presentation Etiquette.

Your event may be hosted online, but it is still a professional presentation.

You should observe professional etiquette as you would at a physical event. Dress appropriately and demonstrate professional courtesy when you speak to attendees. Speak clearly and not too quickly when talking on the phone or presenting with a webcam. If you are on video, don’t forget to look at the camera when you are talking. It makes the online audience feel like they are with you physically. Don’t shout, talk to other people who are in the room with you, interrupt others who are speaking, or use distracting gestures.

Conclusion

If you haven’t noticed by now, hosting an event online is not so different from hosting a physical event. The technological and timing requirements are different, but the professional courtesy at the heart of the event should remain unchanged.

One final thing to remember is networking. Networking is essential to any online or physical event. Schedule time for attendees to navigate around the online venue and introduce themselves to others, ask general questions, and engage in friendly conversation. This type of interaction can help your participants to forge valuable professional connections. While it may not seem as important as getting to business and discussing items on your event agenda, many event participants believe networking is just as vital and can lead to new business opportunities.

 

 

Post contributed by Matt Goodwin

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