Virtual conferencing strategies

The first three strategies set out below are about how to engage your audience. This is always the most important aspect to consider when communicating in any medium. The next four strategies involve the production of your videoconference, and they may depend on the technology and resources you have at your disposal.

1. Involve the audience quickly 

Do you want your attendees to participate, interact, and/or ask questions during the presentation? Get them involved within two minutes of starting. Ask them a poll question, ask them to respond to something in a chat space, or have them submit nonverbal feedback such as a thumbs-up, for example. Everyone is conditioned to regard webinars as passive experiences, so do some work at the beginning to break the script.

If you get your audience to interact twice within the first five minutes, you reset their expectations. Now they will be on their toes and paying attention, knowing that you’re likely to involve them again.

2. Build in interaction that’s useful for attendees, rather than self-serving 

Many of the polls and interactions in videoconferences we’ve attended seem to be built for the hosts to collect marketing insights about the audience.

Instead, incorporate polls and interactions that demonstrate empathy and benefit your audience. Ask questions where the collective answers give your audience advantageous insights and perspective into their world.

For example, attendees at a recent virtual workshop were asked to say how much they enjoyed giving presentations by dropping an emoticon on a spectrum of answers. One attendee acknowledged in a chat window that was open during the poll that she’d worked hard to move from a 4 to an 8 and was very proud of herself. Making your interactions about your audience helps them realise insights about themselves.

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