If you’ve cancelled your company conference, or postponed a live training or development event due to the Coronavirus concerns, you’ll know all too well that you’re also faced with a broader challenge: how to maintain employee and stakeholder engagement; inspiration and networking, and distribute key messages or education.
While there are many communication opportunities that exist, from internal social media like Yamma, and distributed newsletters, one of the popular topics right now is digital conferencing as more organisations ask the question: “can we continue with our conference plans but online?”.
The reality is that, despite the fact that we can put man on the moon (allegedly), we sometimes still struggle with video conferencing. It’s ridiculous given technological advances in other areas that we still suffer with poor video calls! With so many of us having experienced challenging Skype video conferences, or irritating Zoom drop outs, there’s an understandable resistance to the notion of putting a conference online. Especially as for the vast majority, it will be their first time.
However, digitising conferences and learning events is not a new thing. TED and TEDx conferences are a simple example of learning events streamed to great effect and educators have been using software like Zoom and GoToMeeting to teach large numbers of students in virtual classrooms for years – I’ve been using the latter for almost 10 years.
More information and reassurance will come out as businesses opt for continued engagement and connection with their staff through online and digital solutions, so I wanted to share some tips to help you maximise digital conferencing.
The greatest new challenge will be finding a suitable host, or curator, because our digital attention span is so much poorer than our live attention. When watching a streamed event, your physical attention is being channelled to a very small frame of reference, like a small television screen and so it is easy to look away, or become distracted by real life outside of the screen. There are very few broadcasters who have experience as I do in delivering content (most broadcasters are well practiced in delivering lines from a script or using tele-prompt/autocue), and fewer still of us have experience in live broadcast. That’s a very important combination for a successful digital conference, but the following thoughts may be of use to help ensure your first digital conference is an enjoyable success!
It’s very difficult when not in a room full of people to put energy into your presentation, especially if you’re presenting directly to a camera on your own in an isolated room! However, energy is really important, and even more so when presenting to a camera. The a deep breath and smile; using any nerves as energy to bring your presentation to life.
Another challenge is the camera. There’s a phenomenon known in the television and film industries whereby when pointing a camera at some people, they freeze. Some freeze physically and others have something of a brain freeze and can’t seem to gather their thoughts. It’s possibly something to do with the iris of the camera and that interrogating lens staring at you. Knowing about that can help you to mitigate any problems that will present but if you can, have a friend or colleague stand behind the camera and present to their friendly face instead.
Finally, for now, keep your messaging simple. Digital conferences work best when they are shorter, offering more salient and powerful messages. Being able to edit messages is not a bad skill to hone and one that is at the cornerstone of good marketing companies and campaigns.
I’ll be bad soon with more tips and some videos to help you, too – don ‘t forget to follow me on social @ThatJezRose and check out the YouTube channel for inspiration.