Although nothing can fully take the place of face-to-face communications, a well-run virtual event or presentation can speak volumes. To ensure you deliver top-notch virtual presentations, a key is to focus your attention on the results rather than the means building a successful event from the ground up through fundamentals like solid customer service and consistent quality.

When designing and planning your virtual event, it's important to remember that your presentation must adapt for the medium. The dynamics of speaking to an audience over the phone or the Internet are different than being face-to-face. People are naturally resistant to change and will need help in overcoming listening to a speaker who is not "live and in-person." On the flip side, many participants may have already participated in virtual events, but they've been in traditional teleconferences, which too often result in the perception of a boring and less-than-effective replacement for a live event. With this group, it's important to overcome their previous experiences.

By keeping in mind some important factors during the planning phases, you'll ensure that you're delivering an interactive, engaging presentation over a virtual medium. Remember these key considerations when planning and delivering your message:

Define Your Customer
Your customer isn't limited to the person or organization paying for the virtual event. Remember that your customers are actually all around you the meeting participants, the organization hosting the event, the speaker/instructor and possibly the sponsor. Ensuring the satisfaction of constituents is critical to my measurement of a successful virtual event or meeting. I want each and every participant to come out of an event feeling good about their experience, that it was well worth their time and investment and that they would like to be involved in other events. When word spreads among our featured speakers and participants, we want the feedback to be that the information presented was conveyed effectively, engaged them, and was on-target for our audience.

Survey To Evaluate the Medium
Understanding the needs and expectations of your customers is your responsibility. Talk to your participants before and after an event to make sure that the information and materials your speakers are presenting are appropriate to the medium and that the materials are packaged for ease of use in coaching, facilitating or assisting participants.

Make Sure Your Event is "User Friendly"
Nothing turns people off to a virtual presentation faster than one that is difficult to access. Make sure that the registration process for your event is simple. Remember, switching to a virtual medium may represent a behavior change for some participants. It's very important to understand the critical impact of ensuring that the connection and participation process is easy.

Tailor the Environment for the Presentation
Each group of participants has different needs and expectations in terms of the level of formality of your presentation. Some groups need a looser, more comfortable environment while others are extremely focused. Anticipate and create the appropriate tone and setting for the meeting.

Facilitate the Meeting
A critical element, but one that is vital to a virtual event's success, is meeting facilitation. Your role will vary based on a variety of factors such as the degree of direction, from less direct recommendations and guidance to the more active facilitating or directing. Your responsibility is to ensure that the presentation meets the objective, progresses appropriately and effectively, and involves the participants as desired. Participant involvement is critical to overcoming the absence of an in-person presentation and to prevent the boredom and resulting detachment that can occur with a virtual meeting. Recognize that this means a shift in your mindset. Delivering a successful virtual presentation requires extra attention to your method of delivery.

Choose the Appropriate Medium
It's easy to become enamored with the technology available at our fingertips and utilize a conferencing technology that is more sophisticated and costly than necessary. Assess whether or not the technology you are using is compatible for all participants and understand their basic skill levels. Stay focused on your objective and the needs of your audience and don't get carried away with the bells and whistles. If, however, you chose an Internet conference as your medium, here are some added tips for a successful event: 

Ask participants to connect 5 10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting, so you can begin at the scheduled time.
Prepare all documents prior to the call.
If you are sharing a file, limit the file size to 500K or smaller.
Use at least a 20-point font size for your presentation.
Close all other active applications.
If participants are "view-only," select these options: laptop screen size 640 x 480, PC screen size 800 x 600, Optimize to 256 colors unless black and white is acceptable
Make sure all participants have tested their access to our serve
Select maximize for a full-screen view and scale to fit your monitor size.

Understand the Way in Which People Learn
People learn through auditory and visual stimulation. But visual stimulation does not necessarily mean it's critical to observe the presenter. To the contrary, often when meeting participants can't observe the presenter, they listen more intently and focus on what they can see, such as handouts, an Internet conferencing presentation or e-mail notes. Presenting the information in an energetic and dynamic manner can also help to focus the participants on the information and away from the natural tendency to want to see the speaker. Understanding the application of learning theories is also helpful in assessing the needs of your audience and selecting the most appropriate medium for the message.

Repect Participants' Time
Everyone has busy schedules, so it's your responsibility to use the time as effectively as possible. Make the most of the time your meeting participants spend on hold while waiting for your event to begin by using this time to "set the stage" or create an environment for the call. Use this time as an opportunity to deliver announcements, market upcoming events, sponsor products or services, or refresh participants on previous presentations or events.

 


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