What is one best practice for hosting a glitch–free web conference or webinar virtually?
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Hardline Your Connection
2. Prepare for the Worst
While you may not know there will be a blackout or fire alarm in the middle of your web conference, make a list of the potential worst case scenarios and then determine how you can address them should they arise. Prepare for the worst so your audience is impressed that you managed to keep the conference going against all odds. Even if the unexpected doesn’t happen, you have peace of mind.
3. Plan for Success
The most important element of any webinar is preparation. Six to eight weeks in advance of the event, outline key dates and required assets, and assign responsible individuals. Don’t forget to include dates for a full event dry run, finalization dates for all presentation materials and video content, and opportunities to test technology in advance of the event.
– Curtis Thornhill, Apt Marketing Solutions
4. Test Before Hosting
Even if you have heard great things about a web conference platform, you don’t want to just assume it will work. Instead, run a test first to make sure everything works, such as whether your presentation will load and how the meeting works with the web conference tools that are included with that platform.
5. Find the Right Platform
Scout out a platform that’s easy for participants to register and join. Your target audience might not register if they have to create an account or jump through other hoops just to join. Also, make sure your platform works well on a variety of devices because not everyone will be joining from a computer. Find one that includes a mobile app or can be connected to via phone.
6. Have a Moderator
You need to test and have a moderator who is actively assisting. The speakers should be concentrating only on their presentations and not having to worry about the technology. This moderator can also handle any emails, IM, social media pings and calls with issues. Think of contingencies in case of computer crashes, internet outages, clients unable to connect and so forth.
7. Ask Participants to Help
No matter the webinar software platform or the number of times you practice and run through the presentation, technical difficulties are bound to happen while live. To reduce the technical errors, begin your webinar/conference by checking the audio and slides/screen. Simply ask people to locate the chat box and type “yes” if the sound/screen is working. Bonus: this kickstarts engagement.
8. Use a Reliable System
One of the best ways to deter customers and annoy them is to make them download software to see your presentation or webinar. So one best practice for hosting would be to have an easy to use, reliable system (at EVENTup we use join.me) that does not require the viewer to do anything further than tune in, which makes the whole operation run much smoother.
9. Invest in a Quality Microphone
Invest in a quality microphone. There’s a reason your favorite radio host, podcasters and DJs use them. Copy what the pros do and sound like a pro. You don’t need to go crazy — a $100 to $200 one will have you sounding awesome instantly.
10. Rent a Private Office at a Co-Working Space
When I’m traveling I don’t like to take risks hosting webinars or virtual events, so I will often research a co-working space that will rent me a private, soundproof office with a dedicated Internet line. Many cities have these options now and I have found these spaces to be more reliable options than hotel Wi-Fi.
11. Expect Problems
In five years I don’t think I’ve run or attended a single error-free live event — the technology is just too unpredictable! So we stand ready with a team to engage attendees, answer questions and send an email if plans change. It can’t be perfect, so consider what could go wrong and know how you’re going to communicate with your audience.