What does it take to put together a successful web conference where participants and facilitators exchange valuable knowledge, are energized and hungry for more? Whether you are using web conferencing to deliver training, hold a meeting, host a knowledge sharing session or other event, there are three ingredients to consider for a successful event:
- One part well-designed content
- One part engaging facilitation
- One part well-planned event management
Let’s explore each ingredient…
Content: The topic and content of your web conference will attract your audience to enroll in your event, so, to state the obvious, your content must be relevant for your audience. If you are converting face-to-face training to delivery via web conference, plan for about 3 hours to convert every 1 hour of material. Converting your content should include trimming your content so there’s less ‘talking to’ and more ‘interacting with’ the audience, adjusting exercises by maximizing the features available in your meeting room and adjusting your PowerPoint slides to include images that illustrate key concepts and slides that cover one key concept only.
Facilitation: While good content will attract your audience to your online session, great online facilitation will keep them tuned into your session. A good online facilitator knows how to connect with the audience, in spite of being blind to the audience. He or she does this using a variety of techniques such as engaging the audience early and often, using clear and precise language that is free from slang, and giving the audience time to respond to verbal questions, to polls and to type responses in chat. The online facilitator is also adept at scanning their computer screen continuously to “see” what the audience is doing: are they chatting, raising a hand, have they stepped away from your screen or their desk. Needless to say, a good online facilitator is an excellent multi-tasker.
Event management: This ingredient is a mix of everything else that goes into web conference. Event management begins with the initial meeting invitations, continues to the live event management and ends with follow up communications, and all of these pieces should be integrated. Most web conferences benefit tremendously from having a second person online during the event, whose role is to manage the meeting room and support the lead facilitator. This role, often referred to as the Producer role, helps to keep all the moving parts of a web conference in sync. The Producer also helps participants to test their computer before the event, troubleshoots technical problems during the event and manages post event activities such as getting the web conference recording circulated to the right people.
Mix these three ingredients together, add a twist of great internet connectivity and then toast to your success!