So, after last month’s instructions on DIY webcasting, you decided to take the plunge. You’ve decided that webcasting your event to a remote audience is the best way for you to gain additional exposure or to provide education to members or employees who cannot attend an event face-to-face.
But, webcasting is just the beginning of the experience. Engaging your remote attendees (making them feel like active participants in the meeting) is imperative if you want create an event, not just something that looks like a TV show on public television.
Based on my experience with producing hybrid meetings, I’ve come up with a few tips to engage your remote audience and make them feel like active participants.
- Tape a smiley face next to the camera so speakers remember to address the remote audience.
- Always use a back channel for interactivity between your face-to-face and remote audience. This might be done by signifying an event hashtag on Twitter, creating a private network on Yammer or using the chat functionality on your webcasting platform (which could potentially be limiting for your face-to-face audience because they are not actually viewing the webcast).
- Utilize a tech moderator. A tech moderator can become the physical presence for the remote audience as they give virtual attendees a voice in the room. They field questions and comments, and interact with speakers and other attendees on their behalf.
- Instruct the camera operator to scan the room from time to time, so remote attendees share the mood in the room.
- When face-to-face attendees ask a question or make a comment, ensure they have a microphone, and have the camera operator pan to this person rather than remain on the speaker. At the very least, make sure the question or comment is repeated back for the remote audience to hear. I cannot repeat this enough.
- Have speakers use an iPad or other monitor to view comments from the back channel conversation the remote audience is having. Despite common beliefs, this does not detract from the educational experience. College professors in distance-learning programs do this all the time. It works very well in a panel situation.
- Treat the webcast as you would a TV show. Use the pre-event time for housekeeping items or short interviews or conversations.
- Provide handouts to the remote audience so they can follow along with presentation content.
- If any special materials will be required, be sure to include this in the registration confirmation for remote attendees. Also include information such as the event hashtag, Facebook page, etc.
- Set up visual monitors in the room as a continuous reminder of the presence of the extended audience.