The New Norm: How To Run Online Events

With the uncertainty which has come due to COVID-19, maintaining continuity of service within your business is vital to keep moving forward. Those who evolve and adapt to the current circumstances will have a better chance to reduce damage to their day to day operations. With social distancing key to reducing the spread of the virus, many businesses are choosing to work from home, where possible. This has led to the rise of online tools to facilitate meet ups, events and communications amongst spread out teams.

Pro-actively readying yourself and your team to engage with online events and meet ups is very different to the situation most people find themselves in now, where we have been forced in to re-actively adapting to the circumstances which are popping up daily. We now need to become proficient and competent with these new spaces online, and to understand how best to run online events to keep moving forward.

So what do you need to know?

At Iconic Offices, we hold upwards of 20 events a month for our Community, all of which exist in our physical spaces, which we now have to rethink to maintain engagement with our members for the short term.

Google Hangouts, Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams and more are familiar names which are gathering market share which all offer a great service depending on your needs. But rather than advise on software, we want to focus more on some tips to help run great online events or meeting.

Choose your software
As outlined above, there are a lot of great quality options to choose from, you need to define what functionality you need then proceed. Simple considerations can help refine your choice: Do you need video call? / How do you want your presentation to look? / Do you want internal conversations to happen? / What’s the cost of the product? / Do my guests need to sign up to this software too or can they proceed as a guest?
Outline your audience
A simple one, but before you start, simply outline who you want there. Is it an internal or external event. Do the members have flexibility to bring a colleague? Reducing the element of surprise will help keep you and your team focused.
Content is King
Good content is key to maintaining engagement and establishing an air of credibility in your meeting. Also outline how the meeting will flow for attendees. This will outline what to expect and help to maintain structure. For content, think of all mediums here: a mix of live video, slides, conversational topics, general chit chat and time for a Q & A will help with the variety of these online events.
Think of the new etiquette 
This is a simple one. But you are no longer in a room with the attendees and you need to be very aware of that. Our brains will tell us that we’re begind a computer screen, but that doesn’t mean we are invisible. A few quick Dos and Donts for you to take note of:

Do:

  • Introduce yourself and make an impact
  • Be aware of your surroundings – they can see it!
  • Position yourself in a space that is quiet and functional for the task in hand

 

Don’t:

  • Stare at your phone or look distracted
  • Answer emails or do other jobs while on screen
  • Interrupt people talking
Also, be fair. The people you are working with may not be aware of this, so why not politely outline the rules for engagement for this new medium.
Define the goals of the meeting
A meeting without focus is a formal chat – which isn’t the reason you are here for. Set out a public and private agenda as to why this meeting is happening. What are you hoping to discuss? What does success look like? This may differ for yourself and your attendees, so just be aware of that.

Social (if applicable)

Just to note, if it’s an online external event, don’t forget to plan some social interaction for attendees and any followers you may have. Promoting engagement and sharing of content will help boost traction and brand awareness for you.

Keep track of the time and be the last to leave

Feeling rushed or pressured for time is the last thing you want in a meeting. Prep for the time you have and allow for questions, if this means you need to reduce your content, that’s fine. You can include more detail in your follow up. Also it seems simple, but be the last person to leave, jumping out early looks sloppy and gives an illusion of a lack of control. See your guests out then sign off.

Prepare for what could go wrong

Without getting too hard on yourself, remember the mantra, ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’, simply think what could go wrong from invite, to signing in, to signing off, and how you can mitigate any risk in those areas. You will reduce the stress for yourself while maintaining a professional front for your audience and/or colleagues.

Follow up

Before you start, think of your follow up. What does it look like? Are you sharing slides of content? Were any points raised you’d like to discuss further? What do next steps look like? A focused follow up email can book end your event nicely and lead to further developments.

Finally, enjoy it!

The fact you are hosting these online events and have people attending, should give you confidence that you know your stuff. You are simply embracing another format to showcase it in. Stretching outside your comfort zone is always rewarding and is a must in our current environment. What’s the worst that could happen…


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