Virtual conference

Tips for virtual events, seminars and workshops

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Kristy Vetter, Senior Consultant – Internal Practice Development with Waddell & Reed, Inc.

Great Practice Solutions

As you look for new ways to connect with clients and prospects, you may find virtual events, seminars and workshops to be a good fit. Platforms designed to help you communicate with many people at once – such as WebEx – are widely used. With a little practice and by following these tips, connecting virtually can be an effective way to communicate.

  1. Know your audience.

Virtual events are not right for all clients, often due to limited knowledge of technology or lack of internet access. Review your clients and prospects to determine what type of meeting is best for each.

  1. Determine your approach.
    • Slideshow presentation
    • A slideshow is the easiest way to begin your adventure with virtual seminars. Your only concern is the slide content and not the positioning of the camera. If you plan a slides-only presentation, humanize the interaction by adding a picture of the speaker(s) on one of your initial slides. Make sure your slides have been compliance approved prior to the event.

    • Camera view of the speakers
    • Once you are comfortable with using slides, add the speakers to the screen. When you practice the meeting, turn the video camera on. Notice your surroundings and adjust the camera view so that your background looks professional.

    • Q&A session
    • Q&A sessions are recommended for those with experience using a phone or computer camera. It can be tough to ensure that the questioner and responder can be seen and heard. However, depending on the topic, a Q&A session can open you up to issues you may not have anticipated. Consider focusing the session on a specific topic and stick to it even if you receive questions on other subjects.

  1. Set a length for your session.

Shorter is better when it comes to virtual events. If you have a topic that may take longer than 40 to 50 minutes, consider a two-part series.

  1. Practice makes perfect.

Practice your presentation at least once prior to the session, including handing controls back and forth between presenters. Also, ensure everyone knows when their portion starts and ends.

  1. Designate a behind-the-scenes tech manager.

Assign someone behind the scenes to run the technology so you can fully concentrate on the presentation and the attendees.

  1. Ensure a positive experience for everyone.
    • For the best connection, use a phone line instead of your computer audio.
    • Slow down your rate of speech and overall pace of the meeting. This allows for a possible lag time so you and your attendees can hear the full message — especially during Q&A.
    • Mute attendees upon entry. Many virtual meeting platforms offer this feature upon setup.
    • If you want attendees to speak during the meeting, have them use the “hands up” signal. You can acknowledge and unmute them when you are ready.
    • You can allow attendees to comment with a “check mark” or “smiley face” button.
  1. Provide resources for follow-up questions.

Provide your contact information so attendees can reach out if you don’t have time to answer questions. It also lets people off the hook if they are not comfortable asking questions in front of other attendees.

  1. Promote your event.

Virtual events should have a virtual invitation. Send a short, approved email that describes the topic and introduces the speaker or post your invitation on Facebook or LinkedIn. Certainly, you can send a postcard or letter, but consider starting with a virtual option.

When face-to-face events, seminars and workshops are not possible, virtual alternatives are widely accepted. Many appreciate the opportunity to learn in the comfort of their homes and may be more likely to attend. With practice and patience, you can incorporate virtual sessions as part of your client experience and normal business operations.

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