Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: You’ve just shared an idea at a virtual company meeting, only to be told that the internet cut out and nobody heard what you said. Or maybe it’s 20 minutes into a webinar where the next speaker starts their presentation. Another voice chimes in, “you’re still on mute.”
With virtual gatherings at an all-time high, we’ve all run into these classic tech snags. Luckily, many of these common pitfalls are largely avoidable. With a bit of planning and practice, you can let the virtual format work for you instead of against you.
As you’re planning your event, remember that people will be tuning in from all different locations. You can expect that some of these environments will carry a variety of distractions for attendees, and technical hitches can make active participation even harder.
Below we’ll discuss how to get all your virtual ducks in a row to keep your audience engaged, your presenters comfortable, and your gathering flowing smoothly.
Here are some of the key areas to consider as you prep for your virtual event:
Nailing down technical basics
Tell your audience what they will need to access your event. Do they need to download an app? Encourage them to do so ahead of time. Do they need to enter a password? Notate all this information clearly for attendees as part of the registration process, and make sure to consistently deliver this same information with each reminder leading up to the event. Some platforms have an option to resend this kind of information in an automated email at a designated time frame (e.g. one hour, one day) before the event. This prep work will help your event begin on time and ensure everyone is engaged right from the start.
Conduct an A/V run-through with other speakers/presenters before your event. Simulate the event process from start to finish, including transitions such as screen sharing, speaker changes, and breakout rooms. This should ideally be done at least one day ahead of the event to allow plenty of time to troubleshoot and resolve any issues that may come up.
If you’re hosting or presenting at a virtual event, make sure you have a strong internet connection. Are there certain parts of your home or office that get a better wifi signal than others? The closer you are to your router, the faster your connection. Or if you have an ethernet cable available, plugging in can help to avoid the ups and downs of a wireless connection. Speed test tools, like this one from AT&T, can give you a quick reading of your internet connection. (For reference, stable video conferencing demands approximately 1–4 Mbps in download speed and 1 Mbps in upload speed.) By considering this ahead of time, you’ll help save yourself and your event-goers from the frustration of frozen screens or dialogue lost in the airwaves.
Making presentations device-friendly
If there is a visual component to your presentation such as a slideshow, video, or graphics, make sure these visuals are clear and large enough to see on different screen sizes. Consider laptops as well as phones and tablets.
Getting presenters camera-ready
Have presenters position themselves in front of a simple and uncluttered background. A neutral colored wall without windows or doorways works well. Additionally, some platforms allow you to choose a background image. This can be a great way to incorporate your organization’s branding or set a particular tone for your event. (Looking for that “innovation center” feel at your virtual event? Try one of our CIC video backgrounds!)