The ongoing spread of coronavirus has not only caused a huge market shift with an increase in remote work platforms but also forced us to embrace digital tools and technology in a very effective way. Virtual programs are cost-effective, highly scalable, adaptive with a variety of complimentary online tools, and closely aligned with the way people work today, which will be fruitful even when this pandemic is over.
Now that we are all getting used to the online platforms, entrepreneurs will not be affected by lock-downs the way they have been affected this time, which prepares them for future disruptions. And not only that, it is an opportunity to bring out of box ideas on the table to bring innovation in the enterprise rather than blaming the quarantine for disruption in productivity.
Zoom has always been popular among the enterprise world, although the coronavirus pandemic has helped in increasing its word of mouth reach. It gives access to more than 1000 participants through Webinars and Meetings. The number of participants can be increased even more by providing recordings to be available on-demand for the audience who could not make it to live sessions, which leads to another benefit of less disruptive schedule. It is also economically feasible as it reduces the cost of traveling and accommodation.
The entrepreneurs have quickly adapted to online communication platforms as new normal, where they can easily host events and have face to face interaction with speakers, attendees, sponsors, etc. But is it that simple?
No doubt, moving to virtual events may seem like uncharted territory. They come with several challenges, especially in practical courses and training. To overcome those challenges we have to modernize our approach with all the available communication tools. Here are the best ways to leverage zoom for an entrepreneur to transition in-person programs to online events:
#1 – Don’t try to recreate the SAME experience you had in person
It might seem obvious. But, I have attended enough webinars and online events that miss this idea. It’s not as simple as running the same sessions and telling everyone what time they should log in.
Take a moment and think about what you want the attendees to walk away with. And create something NEW.
It is an art form to create in person experiences and events.
There are similarities when you move online. But in many ways, it’s a completely different experience. Games and simulations take 3-4x the time to deliver. And some elements don’t work. Tech provides new opportunities and limits you as simple tasks are impossible when you can’t “read” the room.
So the best way to shift – start with a new program. You have an opportunity to ask different questions.
For example, I have frequently deleted some of my favorite activities. Instead of fretting, I was willing to keep asking questions. How could we rethink the activity?
If we had held too tightly to “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, we might have missed an opportunity.
So be willing to brainstorm. And consider something brand new.
#2 – Test your ideas at smaller events
I’ve been blessed recently to be doing ALOT of webinars and delivering online trainings for entrepreneurs.
And at each event, I have tested a new idea.
- What is the right frequency to ask people to type in the comments?
- How do you handle people interacting from different devices? (There are different tools you lose if someone is on an tablet or phone for example)
- What is the right mix of content to application?
- How do I present an activity to different audiences?
For example, on one of my first sessions, I shared that I would be using the break-out room for a discussion. But this was a group that was conditioned to webinar only events – they were prepared to be muted and take notes.
So guess what happened when we moved into break-out rooms? Quite a few people had walked away from their phones and I was scrambling to rematch rooms.
Now, I give the heads up several times and ask people to share in the chat if they want to skip the discussion. That is not something that is typical in person – even shy people often enjoy the discussions so it surprised me when it came up online.
So consider hosting a series of small events before you launch your big event. It helps you think about solutions on the spot and also begin to learn the new expectations that your attendees have.
#3 – Have someone providing tech support even if you don’t think you’ll need it
I’ve been delivering trainings and workshops for years. Typically once the host has the room set-up, I’m good to go until meals or break-time.
However, online events are a MUST to have a second person for the entire event. I’ve delivered sessions with support and without support and it does dramatically affect the event if you have a second person available.
Imagine my surprise at one event where the attendee logged in via her phone and was getting mad that she couldn’t type in comments. I tried to troubleshoot for several minutes but honestly the only solution was to log in from a computer/tablet. Which she couldn’t do.
After several longggg minutes, I shared that I had to move on and that she could reach out to me after the event via email. However, she continued to talk…and I couldn’t mute her.
Having a second person who could take the call offline would have made this moment a lot easier. I appreciated that the group was willing to wait patiently. But also there wasn’t much I could do in the moment.
A second person would have made all of the difference. They can help with things like:
- Reviewing comments
- Helping participants with tech challenges
- Keeping an eye on the waiting room – which is actually VERY hard to keep your eye on when you are delivering the presentation itself.
You’ll find your events go much smoother when you have this support. So don’t be shy about asking for a volunteer or help if you have the budget.
There is so much more to learn about this topic. So this is a quick share of only a few ideas to leave you inspired. While online events and programs seem daunting at first, you’ll soon start to see new opportunities. For example, I hosted a 4 hour session recently where the attendees did not want to leave until the 5th hour!