Decide on Your Event Type:
Here are two basic categories of virtual events:
- Webinar – Webinars typically last 45-90 minutes and usually involve audiences listening to one or more speakers present content. Audience members can interact through Q&A and chat functions, or by submitting questions prior to the conference. A webinar often combines live and pre-recorded content and a recorded version is posted on-line for on-demand viewing after the conclusion of the event.
- Conference – Much like in-person conferences, virtual conferences are built around live interaction that includes keynotes, breakout sessions and opportunities for informal networking. In a virtual environment the scale of a conference can range from 15-300+ attendees.
Select a Format:
There are a myriad of virtual formats, but here are a few basics:
- Keynote Presenter with audience interaction
- Main Presenter with breakouts
- 1:1 Interview/Conversation with/without audience interaction
- Moderated Panel/Town Hall with/without audience interaction
- Group Activities or Demonstrations
Pro-Tip: In a virtual environment, whenever possible, opt for a series of smaller events versus one long meeting. Recent, nationwide surveys of virtual event attendees reveal their average attention span for non-interactive, virtual events to be 21 minutes!
- Will content be live, on-demand, or a mix?
- How will attendees interact with speakers? With each other?
- How will speakers interact with the audience? Live polling, surveys? Social media specific to the event?
- Will the event be recorded? Click here to learn more about recording your event.
- How long will on-demand sessions be available after the event? Who can access the event after the fact?
- For large-scale and high-profile events, the Events Office will arrange support from RCIT, but you may want to assemble a supporting cast to assist with tasks such as note-taking, monitoring of Q&A and chats, and reading survey and poll results.
- Does it make sense to build in informal networking or ice-breakers to jumpstart your meeting?
- Will participants submit questions prior to the event? To whom?
Get the Word Out:
- Prior to the event, prepare a communication for attendees that explains how to join the event, outlines the agenda, and who to contact in case of technical difficulty. If you are recording the event—include this information in the invitation and in this communication.
- Consider creating a webpage to house agendas and other resource material.
- You may want to post your event on Engage. If you do not have an account, be sure to work with the events office to get your event posted.
Rehearsals and Contingency Plans:
- When inviting guest panelists and speakers to participate, obtain permission to use images. This will help you promote the event to attendees and use photos and videos to share event content when the event is over.
- Prior to the event, schedule a rehearsal and run-though the agenda.
- Decide on the protocol in case a presenter’s internet connection fails.
- Create a cell phone list of all presenters that includes contact information for the IT team and other planners.
- It may prove difficult to manage all aspects of an online event on a single monitor. With a second monitor, you can host the screen sharing on your primary display and move windows like your participants list, chat, Q&A, and polling to a secondary monitor which will give you a greater ability to track everything at a glance.
- On event day, speakers and panelists should log in at least 20 minutes prior to test their connection, find the best lighting and review any last-minute changes or questions. Afterward, they should mute themselves and shutoff video until the event begins.
In a virtual environment, where you can’t always read facial expressions feedback and follow-ups are very important. Here are some basic follow-up methods:
- Send a meeting-recap with copies of slides and a list of resource material and/or links that were shared in chats.
- Solicit feedback via post-event surveys, you can create one in Qualtrics or use other non-university-supported surveys like SurveyMonkey, Survey Cake or Google Survey. Hearing from the audience after the event can help you improve events in the future.
- Help improve virtual events campus-wide by sharing your survey results with the Events Office: firstname.lastname@example.org