Increasing your impact in virtual events

If your calendar is now like mine then every face to face meeting, group presentation and event just became a webex, zoom, skype or teams session. How do you keep people engaged and ensure they participate?

Clearly some of these work better for small groups and others for larger audiences but hopefully it gives you some ideas to try out.

Thanks to everyone that commented on my LinkedIn post, which is where these are collated from

  1. Before you get started, stand in front of your camera then turn round, now you can see what everyone else can, anything that shoudn’t be there?
  2. Ask the viewers to turn the video on!
  3. Request that people mute their phones and close other apps they may be using
  4. Start on Time! Do not wait for people to join it’s rude to other attendees that joined on time
  5. Keep the agenda short and limit the number of words on your slides
  6. I would keep virtual sessions to 30 minutes, but try to only use 20
  7. Unless you have a specific person you need to introduce then don’t do group introductions
  8. Keep the slides brief and visual, you want people listening to you not reading your slides
  9. Limit the marketing, jump in to the topic, state the facts and get to the point
  10. Stand up while talking.  It animates and helps to get more of your personality across
  11. Ask questions, better still, ask specific people questions. It engages them and makes everyone else realise they could be next
  12. Ask questions for people to respond in the chat, maybe even have someone moderating these to help you
  13. Surprise people, add something in they’re not expecting
  14. Practice using quizzes, polls, whiteboard etc. use the tools that the delivery platform offers but don’t break the flow of the session
  15. Always end with what you want to happen next, not a ‘Thank you

Most importantly though…engage, engage, engage, distractions for your audience are easy on virtual sessions so you need to keep connecting with them.

I always think that in times of adversity there is often opportunity. Now that I’m going to be spending more time on virtual events I’m going to really practice some of the points above and see which ones have the biggest impact.

I’d also love to hear any of your ideas and whether some of the points above worked for you so please do comment.

Stay safe everyone

6 thoughts on “Increasing your impact in virtual events

  1. Insightful! Thank you for collating and sharing, Matt. #1 is great advice, and #5 is always the target but ever so challenging especially when you present new product features. Cheers!

    1. I learnt point number 1 the hard way, I realised my whiteboard was right behind me and some of the content isn’t stuff I’d want to share publicly, and yes slide 5 is always a challenge, but it’s fun to see if you can describe features visualy rather than with too many words. Thanks for the comment Ron

  2. One thing I have been thinking about is we really need an alternative to the white board. We need an app where you can click your cursor on a screen and free-form type text, without all overhead of a PowerPoint text box and without the word processor justification.

    In addition, we need a Visio like palette of icons that we can drag and drop anywhere on the screen. Think cloud icon, disk icon, server icon, etc.

    1. You really got me thinking with this comment Mark, I have the NetApp icons presentation, which includes system images and connectors and may now try using this to create dynamic visuals for a solution as I’m discussing it during a presentation.

  3. Hi Matt,

    I think the thing to remember is that every element of meeting etiquette applies to virtual meetings as much as face to face. The difficulty is that you don’t have the usual cues you normally get from body language and facial expressions.

    We therefore have to pay additional consideration to the other parties on the call, both from an audience and presenter perspective. Presenters need to remember that they are responsible for the “rules” of meeting and make them explicit at the beginning of the meeting.

    I have been in many virtual meetings where one or two attendees will appear to pay less attention to the fact that there are others on the call and who cannot get their voices heard. Ground rules like using the “hand up” function,
    limiting time spent on each question, stating that questions that require a more in-depth explanation will answered afterwards by email and formally giving everyone a chance to speak (obviously depending on the number of attendees), these all help create a better experience for all participants.

    I’m currently taking a year out to study at university and today was told that as from 23rd March, all lectures will be virtual. It will be interesting to see how that goes!

    1. Some really good advise here Matthew, thanks for sharing. I think it’ll take a while before we get used to not just talking over each other, I think the hand up suggestion is a particularly good idea.

      Good luck with your virtual classes, maybe you can let me know how it goes?

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