By Rachel Peck
Most of our human interaction moved into the virtual realm literally overnight. However, it’s time to start looking beyond present circumstances to begin planning for long-term approaches to this new reality. With many events either canceled or postponed for the remainder of 2020, it raises questions as to how businesses can pivot successfully to a virtual space, without losing valuable face-to-face time? Whether you’re participating in virtual events for the next few months, or hoping to plan your own, it’s definitely time to get comfortable with the screen – here are Eclipse Media Group’s tips:
If you’re facing a canceled trade show season, then you’re likely prepping for a switch to online. Whether it be webinars, showcases, roundtable discussions or a full-on virtual event, some aspects of event planning have changed, but many remain the same.
From a PR agency standpoint, your speakers/representatives should be as prepared as possible for any scenario. If you were attending an event, you might have your representative prepped with a media kit – including writer information and talking points. The same should be for any virtual event. Set your speaker up for success by putting together potential questions, if there’s a Q&A section, and even conduct a trial run of the webinar, interview or panel. Do your research on any mediators, or other event speakers.
Additionally, your speaker might need some coaching on speaking virtually through a screen, as opposed to face-to-face interviews. Some find it more difficult to articulate thoughts, when speaking through a device. Be prepared with a contingency plan, on the chance of technical difficulties, such as being set up as a backup presenter to run slides in case of video connections – also make sure you have backups of any presentation materials
First off, what counts as a virtual event? This can vary greatly across industries, but can include anything from a webinar to a social media takeover, or a look “behind the scenes” at your company. When planning your event, think carefully about your target audience and set the groundwork by asking yourself these questions:
No matter what your event entails, you should make sure you’ve fully planned for any technical difficulties and conducted a few test runs. Beyond that, it’s always a good idea to have FAQ’s, or a PDF of your presentation available for event guests to download. Additionally, don’t forget to promote your event on social media, through email marketing and other channels. Make it easy for guests to sign up and be ready with automated reminders.
If you don’t anticipate participating in or planning a larger event, you should still keep in mind a few guidelines for daily online meetings. Choose your background wisely – this mostly means don’t use a background. Unless you’re working from your bedroom, a background might be distracting to your presentation. If you’re attending a presentation, your microphone is muted so everyone isn’t hearing you speak to your dog, or eat your breakfast. If your microphone is on, consider silencing your computer and phone notifications to cut down on background noise. Also important to note, if you’re sharing your screen, shut off notifications all together. It only takes one personal text alert during a presentation to drive this one home.
Overall, virtual meetings bring their own set of complications into the mix, but they aren’t that different from face-to-face. Be professional, be courteous and considerate when speaking or presenting. Be prepared for all scenarios and take the time to educate yourself or clients on best practices.