At Impagination, our own pandemic offline-to-online story is typical of what many organizations are going through. We had clients scheduled for the year. We had received deposits for in-person strategic marketing workshops, normally conducted at our office or at the client’s site. Several were postponed, and deposits were returned.
Clients already on course with their 2020 marketing plans were stranded. Many were ill prepared, inexperienced or uncomfortable with video-based online meetings—the COVID-19 lifeline for face-to-face conversations and presentations. Many had in-person events planned, and wondered how these events, guest speakers and dates could be salvaged.
Your VJ to the rescue!
Clients reached out to us for help in converting in-person events to online. We offered training to navigate and master these tools. We became virtual event planners, hosting and managing these events for our clients—just call us “VJ’s”, for “Video-Jockeys”! Better yet, we were able to convert our offline marketing workshops to online sessions, giving us the opportunity to offer our strategy services to businesses anywhere.
“COVID-19 threw us into uncertainty in March 2020. We planned to host several client events with high-profile presenters. Planning and plotting with Laural Carr of Impagination Inc. enabled us to host a well-orchestrated virtual event that was efficient, effective and engaging.” – Lois Smith, Smith Falconer Financial Group
Take virtual events from dull to brilliant
1. Engage your audience pre-event. Encourage participants to submit their questions on the topic before the program begins. This signals that they’re being listened to, and that their input during the session will be welcome.
2. Warm up the “room.” There’s a tendency in virtual meetings to launch right into the main topic at hand, but this can negatively affect relationship building. Instead, consider breaking the ice by going around the “virtual” room and asking everyone to introduce themselves and share a tip, or talk about something they’re looking forward to, to add a social element to the proceedings.
3. Avoid topic overload. Don’t try to squeeze too many agenda items into a single meeting. Keep the focus on one or two topics. If you must cover more items, give people time to stretch, refill their coffee, or take a bio-break. Keep each segment of the meeting short – no longer than 30 minutes.
4. Ask questions frequently. This is a great way to engage people remotely and keep a personal connection going. But be explicit in your questions. Ask a specific person a specific question. Asking open-ended questions to a large remote audience can result in “dead air” followed by multiple people talking at once.
5. Take a poll. Consider offering a poll during the session or asking a question that people can respond to via the chat window.
6. Stay focused. While it’s tempting to be distracted by e-mail or texting while you’re in a virtual meeting, give your full attention to the participants, just as you would if you were in the same room.
7. Have fun! Virtual events, ironically, can reduce the sense of distance between you and others in the “room.” It’s more like a small group setting, where people can be themselves, joke and have a good time together. Take the opportunity to be your relaxed, animated self.
Need to polish your online meetings?
Book a complimentary online meeting consultation to be sure to set up and show up like a pro at all your virtual events! We’ll work with you to ensure that your online sessions are conducted in the most engaging, professional and productive manner possible, producing the outcomes you’re looking for!
If you found this useful, read our August newsletter, Pro-Tips for Online Networking.