As business professionals navigate budget and time restrictions, more attendees are asking for virtual education opportunities. In fact, a 2014 American Express survey showed that 63 percent of attendees would participate in more events virtually if the option were available. That number seems destined to increase, too. For meeting planners, that means it’s time to take a serious look at how to approach topic development, content curation and speaker selection for an online event. The same rules from face-to-face do not apply.
“Audience engagement is a big buzz word, but it’s absolutely critical to online events,” Kathy Pudi Jordan, VP of Marketing and Creative Director, INXPO, says. “And creating that engagement requires a different set of skills from an in-person event.
To get a better sense of how to deliver the engagement factor in an online setting, here are three tips for one essential area: selecting who will be at the helm during the event. For a deeper dive into online events, be sure to register for this free PCMA webinar where you will learn how to create the right strategy for your next online event.
1) A Subject Matter Expert Doesn’t Always Equal Success.
“Many organizations tend to select subject matter experts because they have the knowledge of the topic,” Jordan says. “But even though they have the expertise, they might not have the online presentation skills to deliver the audience engagement you need.”
Instead of only turning to SMEs, Jordan recommends considering looking for a moderator that can ensure the audience stays tuned in to what’s happening on-screen. “Think about a comedian or a journalist — someone who loves public speaking,” Jordan says. “It can be a nice marriage when you bring the two together, and it becomes a more authentic and memorable experience.”
2) Find Someone With A Story To Tell.
“Viewers want to be a part of the story,” Pudi Jordan says. “They want to feel connected to the content being presented.”
Rather than focus solely on the actionable insights and data used in so many PowerPoint slides, Jordan recommends finding a presenter who knows how to weave a human element into the presentation. Telling that story becomes a bit easier with a reminder of the audience. “We’ve seen some presenters add a picture next to their webcams,” Jordan says. “It helps you feel like you’re establishing a relationship with your audience instead of just talking in front of a camera.”
3) Give Them The Two-Minute Rule.
The attendees on the other side of the screen have so many different distractions that could take away their attention. From checking their email to logging into social media to completing that presentation due at the end of the week, presenters must remember that their delivery is battling with a range of other activities.
“At INXPO, we use the two-minute rule,” Jordan says. “We want presenters to get attendees to touch the keyboard every 120 seconds. It makes them feel like they’re part of the conversation.”
Looking for more advice on how to coach your speakers and how to build an audience for your next online event? Click here to register for the free webinar where two experts from INXPO will offer more helpful tips.