Virtual Conference Q&A – Episode 1

A Virtual Conference Q&A - Episode 1

Over the past several weeks, our customers have been asking for advice on how to adapt to providing or delivery a virtual conference. Here are some of the top questions and answers to maintain the momentum in a time of change.

What advice do you have for speakers who prepared a podium presentation but will now be delivering it through a web conference?

For a more effective online delivery, break up the content into 5-7 minutes of related content. If possible, deliver the presentation with one or two other speakers to break up the voice and keep your audience engaged in the content. Also, while you are presenting, keep all of the attendees on mute so as not to interrupt the flow of the presentation.

How do we field question and answer periods during a presentation?

The first thing you need to do is establish expectations at the outset of your presentation. Let your audience know that they will be on mute until the Q&A session begins. There are two common approaches to Q&A. The first, is to queue up all questions until the presentation is over. The strength of this is that the speaker(s) can maintain their presentation flow. This is important for speakers new to the virtual delivery format. The second approach is to set aside brief Q&A times every 5-7 minutes between sections of the presentation. This keeps the questions focused and increases the engagement of the virtual participants.

I have been on web meetings in the past and it is so difficult to ask a question because of the lag in voice or not being able to read the body language of others in the room. Is there a better way?

For online sessions, have participants queue their questions in a chat window. This will allow everyone to “speak” at the same time without interrupting the speaker. If you have a co-speaker or a virtual room facilitator, they can introduce the question during the Q&A. For an even more interactive, engaging experience, the co-speaker or facilitator can unmute that one person so that they can ask the question themselves and engage in a dialogue just as if they were in the room with the speaker.

Our speakers are not familiar with managing a virtual delivery. What can we do to make it easier and more polished?

You can incorporate a dedicated virtual room facilitator. This role of the facilitator is to manage the technology so that the speaker can focus on the content and delivery. An effective facilitator will introduce the session, establish the housekeeping statements, and manage the Q&A with the speaker. The speaker will then can focus on their slides, content, and delivery without getting flustered by the technology between them and the participants.

One of the biggest benefits of an in-person conference is the engagement with other around an idea or problem they are trying to solve. How can this be incorporated into a virtual conference?

The industry has learned much from “un-conferences” that can translate easily into the virtual space. These hallway conversations where participants self-form into groups can be easily incorporated into online tools such as #Slack and Twitter. The benefit of #Slack is that conference organizers can create private and public channels for participants. In addition, it offers the ability easily share files, create quick polls, and manage the conversation. When incorporated with a virtual meeting space, a small working group can easily transition to a virtual break-out room to discuss in real-time using web conferencing tools.

At Eris, our mission is to bring people together through better meetings and conferences. We are committed to our community of participants in helping them remain engaged in uncertain times. Contact us today to see how we can help your organization effectively transition to virtual meetings spaces.

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