When you are hosting live session as part of your virtual event, there are a few things that you can do to make it a better experience for your attendees...and for yourself!
Start by familiarizing yourself with your video-conferencing platform, your hosting platform.
Limit the number of attendees to a manageable amount based on the complexity of the topic and the event format.
- Workshop-type sessions that include interaction should be limited to 30 attendees.
- Lecture-style sessions can have higher attendance limits because there's no dynamic, ongoing interaction.
NOTE: Set the registration limits on your hosting platform.
IMPORTANT: Make sure your hosting platform license can accommodate the anticipated number of attendees and the duration of your session.
It's important that you communicate session-specific information to your registrants.
- Send at least one reminder email message for each session.
- Communicate clear login instructions with contact information in case registrants have questions.
- Include any technology needs (e.g., apps they must download, appropriate internet connection) that your attendees will have to prepare.
Make sure that you understand the technology you're using, and provide "support" channels for your attendees.
- Have a plan on what to do if attendees have access/login issues. If possible, have a team member monitoring an inbox and/or a phone line to provide assistance.
- Have a plan on who registrants can contact, during the session, if they have issues. Remember, as the presenter, you'll be busy and unable to field and resolve tech issues.
- Use a microphone or headset that reduces background noise to ensure clear audio, especially if you're recording the session.
- If possible, record your session so that those who miss it can view it at their convenience.
TIP: Some hosting platforms offer the ability to automatically start recording when the session starts; use this feature!
Do all that you can to prepare for your session.
- If your hosting platform has a "mute all" setting, use it -- from the beginning of your session. One attendee with a "live" microphone can be disruptive to the session.
- If there isn't a "mute all" setting, you might be able to customize other presenter and attendee mute options.
- If you'll be screen-sharing presentation materials (e.g., PDFs, slides), store them all in a dedicated, easily accessible folder in case you accidentally close an application while presenting.
On the Day!
There are some things that you cannot do before your session, and there are things that, despite your planning, can still go awry! BUT, if you're prepared, you can mitigate their impact on your session.
- Do a "tech-check" before the session starts. Arrive early and have someone verify that your sound and visuals are working properly.
- If you're sharing your screen:
- Have everything you want to share (e.g., PDFs, web pages, slides) loaded and ready, so that you're not wasting time navigating to websites or through Explorer windows.
IMPORTANT: Turn off all notifications and close any programs that have disruptive pop-ups.
- Use Alt + Tab (Windows) or Cmd + Tab (macOS) to seamlessly toggle between your open windows.
- If you're using a chat feature and if it's possible, have the chat on a secondary monitor so that you can glance at and manage questions as they come in.
- Better yet, have a subject matter expert dedicated to monitoring the chat and answering questions to avoid disruptions to the flow of the session.
- Alternately, plan a Q-&-A session at the end of the session.
- Use the tools in your hosting platform to ask "check for understanding" questions; use polls if applicable; and keep things engaging.