It’s show time: Here’s how to shine on webcasts.
Event webcasts are a powerful way to connect with audiences in the COVID-19 era. They present an opportunity to deliver a higher level of engagement than a traditional in-person event.
According to the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), 87% of business events strategists have canceled events because of the pandemic. And, at PGi, we’ve seen a 430% increase in the number of webcasts delivered using GlobalMeet Webcast since the outbreak.
Webcasts deliver an engaging and interactive audience experience. But it’s important to recognize that there are differences between virtual and in-person events, and it’s essential to prepare accordingly.
Choose the right platform
Choosing the right platform for a webcast requires first nailing down the objectives. For starters, consider a few baseline questions, including:
· What type of information will be presented?
· How many people will be attending, and how many people will speak?
· What add-ons and integrations might be needed in the near-term or in the future?
It’s important to choose a scalable solution that can grow with an organization, and it must be intuitive for both the organizers and the participants.
Also consider other elements, such as integrations with third-party solutions. Remember that whatever platform you choose is an extension of your brand, so make sure it’s the right one.
Choose the right equipment
A webcast is more than just an online meeting, and the best platform can’t make up for a presentation fraught with technical glitches.
Consider an external webcam with a mini tripod to ensure you have the best possible angle and an external microphone to capture quality audio. Also, employ LED lighting so participants can clearly see whoever is speaking.
Perhaps the easiest aspect to take for granted is the internet connection. Be sure to log on from a safe network, and to ensure you have a constant connection through the session, connect directly to the router.
Make it engaging
In-person events benefit from an ability to interact with and engage the audience. For organizations that haven’t organized and executed a lot of virtual gatherings, it can be hard to gauge audience interest.
Don’t try to replicate the same agenda as physical meetings with your webcast. Instead, be sure to be clear and concise and break sessions into smaller chunks. To be as inclusive and accessible as possible, encourage and enable engagement among attendees.
While it might seem challenging at first, there are many easy ways to bring the audience into the conversation. Consider an interactive question session to engage the audience or a poll to gauge their thinking in real-time to guide the conversation.
Bring energy to the presentation
Live events are often powerful because of the exchange in energy between the presenters and the audience. They can feed off of one another to make an otherwise ordinary event exceptional.
Presenters need to remember the virtual experience is different and account for it. To accomplish this, it’s vital to practice presentations in advance. Consider recording practice sessions and critically analyzing the playback; then, repeat the process until you feel confident in the performance to energize the audience.
Give it your full attention
Nothing says you’re distracted and unfocused like a cell phone ringing mid-presentation. Distractions happen, but they are easy to anticipate and avoid. You wouldn’t check your phone while on stage, so why would you do so during a virtual event?
Before launching an online meeting, be sure to close other applications, silence your cell phone and make sure you’re in a place appropriate for a presentation. Taking these simple steps doesn’t just benefit the audience; it also helps the presenter, leading to a more robust performance.
Go with the flow
Few, if any, have pulled off the perfect webcast; something always goes awry, and the same will happen during a virtual event. Just like an in-person event, the key is to maintain focus and take the mishaps in stride.
Success often requires a plan that takes into account the many possible missteps and a backup plan, so they are minimized. Presenters who are in command of their material know not to panic and instead rely on their instincts. Often, attendees don’t even realize something has gone wrong, so there’s no need to tip them off.
Clearly define the next steps
It’s important to remember the end of a webcast is just the beginning of communicating with attendees. Astute organizations benefit from analytics to measure success, tracking every aspect from registration-to-viewer conversion rates to how long live and on-demand participants viewed a session.
They also review audience questions and any responses to surveys and polls, tracking the effectiveness of links used to access the event. Be sure to download real-time registration data to create customized reporting filters for precise data.
Even before COVID-19, people’s attention spans were shortening, given the many distractions, and today, people are hungry for meaningful content. Virtual events allow participants to join from the comfort and safety of their homes or wherever they feel most comfortable.
Engaging webcasts will strengthen and humanize any brand’s story. and perception among its stakeholders. It’s possible to shine on any stage virtually with commitment and preparation.
Mark Roberts serves as CMO of PGi and is responsible for marketing operations, driving growth opportunities and building brand recognition for the company within the communications market.