When you can’t physically bring your people together for your business conference you can still bring your business conference alive – and your people together…virtually.
And while a great tech platform is important to host your conference, the key to making your event engaging, impactful and memorable depends on the human host running the show.
With increasing pressure and restrictions around business budget, organisational travel and employee health and safety many companies are looking to run large scale events through virtual online streaming services. So how do you ensure your event, while virtual, is still energising, motivating and connecting? There are plenty of articles out there about the tech, timing and troubleshooting of hosting virtual conferences. To help you make sure the timing of your event is aligned for all the time zones you are dealing with. To ensure you have the appropriate technology and bandwidth to run your online sessions and finally to check you troubleshoot for potential process and platform glitches before you hit the live button.
YES…that’s all super important…AND…for us at 4D Human Being most conferences fall down once all these things have been checked, once the go-live button is pressed and then the energy drops to zero. Because even if you have the best platform hosting on the market, if you don’t have the right kind of ‘human hosting’ leading your conference, it’s all too easy for your virtual audience to switch off, drift away and go and do something less boring instead. Hosting Virtual Conferences requires a specific skill set, and drawing on our unique background in performance, acting, improvisation, TV, film, directing, storytelling, online training and coaching, here are our five top tips for giving your virtual event the wow factor – big on engagement, high on impact and unbeatable on online experience.
1. Navigate and Direct
Whether you are choosing to hire an expert host or using an in-house presenter, make sure your host is skilled at working online. People can be much more easily distracted when attending conferences remotely, so your host needs to navigate your audience through the agenda in a particularly concise and clear way. Tell your audience exactly which segments are happening when and what you will be expecting from them at various points through the schedule. Finally, keep them hooked in by letting them know the sections further down the line that are simply NOT TO BE MISSED. That if they drift off to grab a cup of coffee they may just miss the golden nuggets that are coming their way. Assume FROM THE GET GO that your audience will WANT TO SWITCH OFF OR leave the room and THAT THEREFORE IT’S UP TO YOU TO set a clear intention from the start to keep them glued to their seats
Also, be more directive with your hosting. When you are hosting live in a room with your audience you can ask more open, general or rhetorical questions and you can get away with a looser format as the energy in the room can fill the gap. But when it comes to hosting online events you need a host that understands how to clearly and tightly navigate your audience and be more directive with posing questions to guests or attendees. You can still, of course, have fun, engage and get people enjoying themselves, but you need to keep the event structured and scaffolded along the way. So instead of “Has anyone got any comments?” Try asking “Let’s hear one comment from each of you on that.”
2. Get Great Audio
While we as human beings are highly visual creatures, research reveals that the quality of your audio will influence whether your audience finds your content and messaging credible. “When the video was difficult to hear, viewers thought the talk was worse, the speaker less intelligent and less likeable and the research less important,” scientists wrote. So, when hosting a conference online we need to ensure our audio is as good as our visual equipment. If not better…as some people can actually tolerate poor video quality more than they can tolerate poor audio quality. Double the reason to maximise the sound quality of your virtual event.
3. Get Interactive
Hosting on the internet can still mean hosting interactively. Running a conference online doesn’t mean leaving your audience flatlined. Your host can still give your audience members a highly interactive experience. Pairs exercises and thought-provoking conversations and games will inject your sessions with the dynamic energy you are looking for. Making your virtual event highly memorable and practical. Your host can run short interactive, experiential exercises designed specifically for small remote working groups or individuals at their laptops at home. Meaning that a virtual conference can still feel truly connecting, intimate and personalised.
4. Energy Energy Energy
We are definitely obsessed with energy at 4D Human Being and when it comes to working online our obsession becomes fanatical! Your virtual conference host needs to be used to working on camera and needs to understand the power and dynamics of ‘Host Energy.’ Being a host in a live arena requires energy, but hosting online requires energy PLUS! The reality is that the camera sucks away 20% of your energy. So, as a virtual MC and host you need to up your energy level higher than you think might be necessary. It may only be one camera in front of you but it’s not one person…it’s one camera and hundreds or thousands of people all feeding off your brilliant hosting energy. And it’s your job to ensure your hosting feels connected, energised, personalised and really reaches into the offices, living rooms and workplaces of your attendees.
5. Feedback Loop
One of the most exciting things about hosting virtually is the opportunity it presents to create an instant feedback loop with your audience. Most platforms and tech include the possibility for your audience to do things like vote, chat and message the host and organisers in real time. This means that you can create a truly global and ‘live’ experience. Make sure your host has excellent improvisational skills and has humour and courage at their fingertips. Because then, they can flex and flow, incorporating comments and feedback into the conference in real time. Which simply put…for your audience…looks like genius.
These are some of the techniques that you can use to take your virtual hosting to a whole new level. You can find out more and sign up for our newsletter through our website as well as check out the 4D articles, podcasts, videos and online training programmes.
Good luck with your virtual event and if you’d like us at 4DHB to help you engage your audience, get your messages across online and have some fun…do get in touch.
4D Human Being – helping leaders, teams and individuals consciously communicate with impact every day.