In a time where companies are making use of a global workforce but need to cut down on the expense of travel, online communication takes the limelight. Skype, WebEx, Google Hangout, and the plethora of other telecommunication links make connecting to someone 13 hours ahead of you a breeze. You are a morning person, right?
These options are great. Intuitive. Easy to use. People get them.
But what if you have a big message to give to your best and brightest 90 team members? Skype won’t work. An email is missable. Flying everyone to a hotel in Orlando is seriously out of budget. What to do?
There are increasingly more peddlers of virtual meeting environments, and they tend to say the same thing. In-person meetings are a thing of the past! Or Reach your audience without actually touching them! Ok, I made that last one up. But they aim to make meeting planners feel at ease and hip, even, for getting on the new trend AND saving the boss some cash.
And these new virtual environments are great – really they are. They make it easy to access content, and they succeed as a vehicle of information. But they’re not, nor can they be, in-person live events. And you know what? That’s ok.
One thing about virtual meetings is they take place on your computer, wherever you are. It just so happens that that’s where your email, and Facebook, and Instant Messenger, and cat videos are, too. And, you don’t have the social checks that you do in a live meeting – no one will call you out for rudeness if you momentarily click over to your email. After all, you’re still listening, right?
We’re all adults here, and sometimes an email really does need to be sent ASAP. So rather than try to build in security measures or initiate rules to get your audience to listen to you, entice them away from distraction with engagement.
Are you craving to share your witty comment about the presenter’s outfit? IM it to your fellow audience members. Have a burning question? Send a message to the host.
Idle hands are the devil’s playground, at least when it comes to virtual events, so incorporating active participation elements into the meeting will keep the audience busy but on topic. Maybe it’s a quiz game, or a live Q&A. Maybe there’s a prize, or maybe being a part of the action is its own reward. Regardless of the incentive, if your audience feels like they are actively doing something rather than passively staring at their screen, the experience will that much more memorable.
Virtual events aren’t TV shows, and they’re not in-person events, either. They live in this unique space where communication is a multi-way street and the tools are more like Star Trek than ever before. So buck the traditional approaches to events and have some vision for the power that a virtual platform gives you. Your audience won’t wait around for you if you don’t, but they will thank you when you do.
By Kaitlyn - firstname.lastname@example.org