In this increasingly online landscape, virtual conferences have become the norm and having to plan one may now be part of your job description. We’ve all been to bad virtual conferences, so how can you, as the organizer, ensure that your virtual conference goes smoothly? When planning your next remote conference or all-hands, here's a technical checklist to keep in mind:
1. Cover housekeeping notes at the beginning of the event
This is where you go over the technology elements of your event, and the agenda of the event so that people can easily follow along and participate. For example, explain how and when they should use the chat feature, whether your event is being recorded, how to mute/unmute microphones, etc.
2. Check your internet connection
Make sure your internet has a sustained connection of 5-10 Mbps. If your internet connection is questionable but your phone’s data connection works great, you can always connect your computer to your phone via a personal hotspot.
3. Update to the latest version of the events platform (ex. Zoom) you’ve selected.
It’s also helpful to recommend that event attendees do the same for the best experience.
4. Use your administrator powers wisely
If it’s a live event and not pre-recorded, double-check that you have the power to mute everyone. This is key to avoiding embarrassing situations, as not everyone might be technically proficient enough to realize when they’re unmuted.
5. Check that you have enough hard-drive space
If you are sharing videos during your event, the best streaming experience is from videos that are downloaded on your computer, not streaming from a website. So make sure you have enough space to download and store videos and run your conference platform at the same time.
6. Prepare to share
If you’re planning on screen-sharing, make sure you select the video application or specific window you would like to share instead of your full desktop. This makes the viewing experience more optimal but could also avoid potentially embarrassing situations where your texts could pop up on your screen.
7. Get attendees talking
If you have a social aspect to your conference, such as networking, double-check to make sure that you have the capacity to put attendees in virtual breakout rooms.
8. Optimize for accessibility
When planning your conference, researching the accessibility of the events platform you plan to use is crucial. For example, find out if the platform works for the visually impaired. In the virtual landscape that we now live in, there’s a lot to learn about how we can make events accessible to all members of the audience.
9. Debrief and learn
This isn’t a technical tip, but an important one nonetheless: doing a debrief right after the event will help you improve for your next conference. Identify what worked, what didn’t work, and what you’d like to see in the future.
These 9 tips may seem like no-brainers, but, along with some smart virtual event planning, are crucial to pulling off a successful virtual conference that your attendees will love.