As more and more organizations move online, web conferences and presentations are turning increasingly popular. Although conferencing software is becoming more sophisticated everyday, a virtual meeting or presentation will always be different from an in-person powwow. That’s not to say that virtual meetings are inferior to the more traditional model. Web conferences have several advantages over in-person talks, but they carry their own unique requirements. To help you put together a captivating, memorable virtual presentation or meeting, we’ve compiled a list of 6 golden rules for making web conferences engaging. Just remember: a successful web conference takes real work!
1. Be Prepared For A Successful Web Conference:
Preparation is invaluable to success in almost every facet of life, but when it comes to creating a likable virtual presentation, it is even more vital. In the week leading up to the meeting be sure to send an agenda to all the attendees, which is particularly important if you’re hosting a number of speakers. Visuals, such as slides or videos, should be sent ahead of the meeting as well. This will give your team a chance to familiarize themselves with the content. Also, be sure to send login information (access codes, URLs, and call-in numbers) at least one day in advance so participants can update their software if necessary. Always provide each participant with a way to reach you offline in the event they experience technical difficulties.
2. Don’t Sacrifice Chit Chat and Ice Breakers:
When hosting a virtual meeting it is tempting to launch directly into the agenda the moment the last person logs in. Fight this temptation! In-person meetings are rarely structured this way. There is often a bit of small talk and light mingling before getting down to brass tacks. This is vital to building a positive relationship with your team, which will ease collaboration in the future. Integrate a social element into your virtual event by starting with an icebreaker. Simply ask each team member what he or she did on the weekend or a similar question before getting to the task at hand.
3. Keep it Quiet, and minimize background noise:
Car alarms, noisy radiators, and wayward cell phones can disrupt the flow of any presentation, but this is especially true if you’re hosting a web conference. FreeConference offers a host of useful moderator controls such as Presentation Mode, which mutes all of the call’s participants except for the speaker, limiting the background noise in each participant’s location. For more tips on how to maintain your call’s audio quality, see How to Keep Conference Lines Clear & Interruption Free.
4. Keep it Quick and stick to your conference call meeting minutes:
When it comes to laying out the presentation itself, it’s important to be aware of the limitations of a virtual meeting versus an in-person talk. Bear in mind each member of your audience is sitting in front of their computer for a long stretch of time. To have a successful web conference, it is best to cut to the chase. Inform your audience but don’t overload them. Create a strong theme for your presentation. Consider what your audience is looking for from that presentation and then attempt to deliver it in the most concise way possible. If it is vital that you cover a lot of ground make sure you give participants an opportunity to stretch their legs or grab a coffee. Try your best not to stray from the meeting’s agenda; you want your audience to have a realistic idea of how long the presentation will be.
5. Keep your audience’s attention by staying interesting:
Never forget that the attendees at your virtual meeting are sitting at their computer, generally unmonitored. This means you’re competing with an Internet’s worth of cat memes. Keep your audience engaged by posing questions frequently. FreeConference’s Hand-Raise feature makes it easy to pin point who has an answer and keeps the entire group from speaking at once. Q&A Mode allows participants to mute and unmute themselves. This feature is particularly useful when you’d like to crowd source ideas from your team members. Don’t forget to open up the floor for questions following each presentation, and remember to move at a slightly slower pace than you would at a typical in-person meeting. Most communication systems have a two to three-second delay,; so don’t forget to pause for longer than usual when you’re awaiting a response.
6. Keep it Pretty — use presentation visuals:
Beyond asking questions, there are other things you can do to keep your audience engaged. Adding a strong visual element to your presentation is key to making a web conference interesting. Visuals can enhance the presentation’s take- home points and, in some cases, even add an element of humor or entertainment to an otherwise dry presentation. If you’re using slides, be sure to keep them simple and uncluttered. Each slide should be limited to one idea and should contain only the most vital information. This will keep your slides moving and give your presentation momentum, and help you to have a successful web conference.