Over the past year, we have seen many of the brands we work with host virtual events to engage with their advocates and have great success! So we compiled some best practices so you can host your own killer virtual event.
BEST PRACTICES FOR VIRTUAL MEETINGS
Most of what we know and do for in-person gatherings translates directly to virtual meetings. From the planning process to the follow-up, virtual meetings are similar. Since many of the details and expenses don't apply to online meetings, they tend to be less complicated and straightforward.
Planning Virtual Meetings:
STEP 1 - Nail the Purpose
The very first decision is the reason for the meeting. Everything hinges on the purpose and idea. Is the goal to inform, involve, train, explain, or rally?
STEP 2 - Schedule the Date and Time
Once you determine why you are holding the virtual meeting, pick a date and time. Consider your attendees. When is the most convenient time for them to gather?
When it comes to virtual meetings, you should not go more than one hour. The ideal length is between 30 to 60 minutes.
STEP 3 - Determine the Presenter and Host
You need to select who will present at the virtual meeting and if there will be a moderator. They can be the same person, but it adds variety and might be more engaging to have more than one person.
STEP 4 - Plan the Agenda
Outline a plan for the meeting. Start with a short introduction, the body of the meeting, and close. Estimate how long you'll spend on each thing and the best sequence. The longer your virtual meeting is, the harder it is for people to focus and stay engaged. It's a good idea to keep the online gathering as concise and short as you can.
STEP 5 - Online Meeting Software
Next, decide which virtual meeting platform you will use. Options for online meeting software include Zoom, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, and GoToMeeting. Free video conferencing software options:
- Zoom - 40-minute limit to group meetings. Multiple participants may share their screens simultaneously and facilitate remote cooperation.
- Google Hangouts Meet - must have a G Suite subscription (cheapest plan is $6 per month). HD video and can share screens.
- Cisco Webex Meetings - 40-minute time limit. Up to 50 participants, real-time polls, calendar integrations, recording, and screen sharing.
- Skype - up to 25 people and 10-language voice translation.
- UberConference - limited to 10 participants and 45 minutes. You can record the meeting, and attendees join with the URL and PIN.
STEP 6 - Send the Invites
Typically announcing the virtual meeting should be one to two weeks before the event. Email is one of the best ways to send an invite. You can use Wooly's CRM to send an email directly to all your advocates.
Some organizations announce events on social media and via SMS text.
You'll want to include the following in the email invitation:
- Date and time
- Length of meeting
- Brief outline - who is presenting and what
- Meeting links and instructions
- Registration (great way to get a headcount)
The email is your opportunity to get people excited. Generating some FOMO is perfectly acceptable.
Step 7 - Send a Meeting Reminder
Send an email reminder one day before the meeting. Recap the meeting details, add more buss, and maybe a teaser about the meeting, such as an award or prize.
VIRTUAL MEETING TIME!
STEP 8- Set the Stage (Set Up and Test)
The best insurance against tech problems is to test your equipment and have a backup. Schedule a test meeting about 30 minutes before. Does the camera work? What does the background look like? Is the mic clear and loud? Is the room where you are broadcasting quiet and clean?
Practice welcoming everyone and muting people who are not speaking. If you are sharing your screen, run through a few slides or your video.
Take a few minutes to review your agenda.
It's go time.
STEP 9 - Start the Meeting
Arrive early for the virtual meeting. Some people roll straight from their test to the actual meeting and just wait. If you are using free video conference software, be aware of the time. You probably can't waste 10-15 minutes waiting.
STEP 10- Welcome All Attendees!
Virtual meetings demand more enthusiasm. Be energetic and try to engage attendees immediately. Consider doing a roll call if the group isn't too large.
STEP 11 - Stick to the Plan
You have worked hard to design and facilitate a fabulous online gathering. Honor the time and attention people are spending with you and stick to your meeting schedule.
STEP 12 - Wrap Up and End
Conclude the meeting with a summary and if you are planning to hold another event, share some brief details. If you are recording the meeting, let guests know when you will send the recording.
End with a warm and sincere thank you to everyone!
STEP 13 - Follow Up
You can keep the engagement and community vibe going with follow-up communication. Send an email with a recap summary and the recording.
If you asked people to do things during your virtual meeting, remind them and inspire action.
Follow-up emails can include pictures from the meeting. Also, consider a post-meeting survey or simply ask people to reply directly with feedback and ideas.
STEP 14 - Evaluate the Online Meeting
Take a few minutes and honestly evaluate how the meeting went. What were the successes? And where could you improve next time? Think about what you would change.