Online conferences have become increasingly popular over the years. More and more businesses and organizations realize that people don’t necessarily have to be in the same place to get the benefits of conferences. In this age where the majority of people’s working lives happen on the internet, it does make sense to bring conferences to the web as well.
You still get to network, learn, and share with your peers without having to hop on the plane. The barrier to attendance has been lowered with the advent of online conferences, and no matter what’s happening in the world, you can attend the conference as long as you have an internet connection.
Of course, online conferences also pose unique challenges. Since the attendees are not in the same physical space, you have to make a concerted effort to compensate for this fact. There are many ways to go about it, and some will be discussed in this article. If you want your online conference to succeed, here are the five things you need to check off your list:
Delivering a program that benefits attendees has always been the goal of conferences, both online and offline. However, it’s safe to say that the pressure to provide valuable content is greater for online conferences. You are competing with existing videos and articles online that are easily accessible anytime for your audience.
The challenge is to bring on presenters and speakers as well as activities that create urgency and demand, something that sets you apart from what’s already out there. For example, for business conferences, it all starts with an excellent business keynote speaker.
The main speaker sets the tone of the event well before the actual date. The speaker gives your potential and committed attendees an idea of what to expect from the online conference overall. From the speaker to the topic, these are considerations that need thorough planning and brainstorming. From there, you are able to build a robust program that is able to paint a picture of what the event will be like on the whole.
As the organizer, you should be able to discuss specifics about the content with your presenters and speakers. Give them enough information and support that set them up for success. Because the conference is online, connectivity is a big factor. Presentations that require a lot of media might need to be rehearsed or put through a dry run to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch on the actual date.
Tech checks are absolutely crucial. You may need to send some presenters certain equipment or guidance regarding how they can put on the best presentation come showtime. Checking that presenters and speakers have a good camera, great audio, good lighting, and a presentation structure that allows for audience participation is also key.
You might have experience attending other online conferences where the quality of the actual content was quickly overshadowed by technical difficulties during the presentation. That is an unfortunate scenario that you need to put time and energy into avoiding. The tools and platforms you choose to host your conference on are a big factor in this. Make sure that you’re not only going for what’s new and shiny. Ensure that what you choose will work for the people involved!
Check the time zones
The beauty of online conferences is that attendees can participate no matter where they are in the world. However, this of course comes with its own challenges and hurdles. The matter of time zones is a common issue that comes up for online conference organizers. Whether you’re doing real-time streaming for the whole duration of the conference or are putting up sections accessible on-demand, you still want to clearly communicate to both attendees and presenters the correct times and dates. You also need to take into consideration that some events are meant to be hosted in real-time with the most potential attendees, like ice breakers or social hours.
Take advantage of tools that allow you to send out invites with built-in calendar functions that allow recipients to save the date on their calendars with their own time zones clearly spelled out. When planning the timing of your events and presentations, make sure to take into consideration the schedules and waking hours of all stakeholders so you can come up with a schedule and program that’s sensible for everyone involved. You want people to be able to make the most out of the online conference.
These three success factors are absolutely crucial in executing and putting on a great online conference. Check your notes, do what needs to be done, and you’re on your way to having a great event.