In the current climate of social distancing many businesses have harnessed the power of virtual meetings and events to communicate with their staff and stakeholders.
However, with the recent rush to move meetings online, we’ve seen organisations fall back on video and audio meetings and teleconferences for every occasion — simply because they’re not aware of other technologies they can use.
Webinars, for example, enable organisations to create polls, live chats, or Q&As, while studio broadcasts are ideal for C-suite announcements, and podcasts are an easy way to enhance the content your business is sharing, or re-purpose content that has proven popular in the past.
Picking the right technology will also help you meet the expectations of your internal and external audiences.
Our research has found that some remote meetings are not being run as effectively as they could be, with employees raising concerns around the length of meetings, lack of objectives, and structure. Just under half (44%) of respondents to a recent survey we conducted on the topic said remote meetings should be shorter in length, while two in five (41%) said they should be more structured and productive, to continue effectively.
Meanwhile, 38% of respondents said remote meetings should be more purpose-driven, 36% said they should result in clearer actions for all attendees and better progression of projects. One in four find the technology difficult: 27% of respondents said it should have fewer technical issues, while 23% said it should be easier to use.
Before you choose what technology will best suit your needs and those of your audience, it pays to get clarity around your basic requirements, including:
- the type of event you’re running: for example a workshop versus an announcement
- the objectives you want to achieve
- the number of participants
- how much you want your participants to interact with you.
Once you’ve got those basic details mapped out, here are a few ways you can take different types of online meetings to the next level and ensure the virtual event or meeting platform you’ve chosen helps you achieve your objectives.
When it comes to some remote meetings, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. If you’re trying to meet with sales executives who are out on the road, a teleconference is a cost-effective, hands-on way of communicating with your staff.
You can be in total control of a meeting: record it, mute background noise and manage participants. And your executives can dial in while they’re on the road without needing to be in front of a computer.
If you’re holding a team building exercise or virtual strategy day, a video conference is a great way to collaborate and maximise engagement — especially for smaller groups.
They’re easy to manage and use — for both the host and participants — and can be viewed in high definition on any device.
You can share screens, files and links, and collaborate online in virtual chat rooms.
For larger groups, a webinar may be a more effective way to host such an event.
For C-suite announcements to large audiences where the message is key, a studio broadcast provides the structure and formal setting that an open forum might lack, and reproduces the gravitas of a staged physical event.
Broadcasts, which can be live or pre-recorded, can be hosted by a moderator, and feature a single speaker, or even a panel of presenters.
Questions can be managed with full control in a private chat, or you can open them up in a public chat for a more transparent occasion.
In-depth interviews/Fireside chats
Webinars are a great choice for in-depth interviews or fireside chat-style events, because they provide you with the chance to create more personal and informative interactions.
The interviewee can answer questions directly from a live private or public chat, or a moderator can handle the questions, manage the tech and introduce and interact with the presenter with prepared questions to facilitate the discussion.
You can also ask attendees to submit their own questions when they register to attend, which enables your interviewee to prepare ahead.
An interview can also be pre-recorded which means your audience can watch longer broadcasts at the time that suits them most. You can also turn this type of content into a podcast.
Internal town halls
Depending on the size of your event, video conferencing (for smaller events) and webinars (for larger events) are the most effective platforms to host a town hall. They let you speak directly to an audience, but also allow plenty of interaction when the time is right through private and/or public chat, polls and live Q&As, which can create spontaneity and fun.
In the case of all-staff updates, a virtual town hall meeting ensures that all your staff hear your message directly from your executive team, fostering clarity and certainty.
Virtual Annual General Meetings
For many in the business sector, COVID-19 social distancing measures have fast-tracked the evolution of the virtual annual general meeting (AGM).
In May, as part of its strategy to make it easier for businesses to operate during COVID-19, the Australian Government made temporary changes to the Corporations Act to allow companies to hold AGMs entirely online rather than face-to-face. The Australian Institute of Company Directors has called for the change to become permanent.
Hosting a virtual AGM as a webinar can be a lot more productive, not to mention cost-effective, than booking out the ballroom at a 5-star CBD hotel.
Along with the ability to host an unlimited number of members and shareholders from anywhere in the world, virtual AGMs enable organisations to utilise private chat functions to take questions (as opposed to dealing with interjections from the floor) as well as run live polls to manage voting.
Using hybrid technology, webinars can also be simultaneously broadcast as a teleconference to ensure all stakeholders have the ability to dial in and ask questions, regardless of broadband connectivity.
Webinars are also an effective way of providing an audience with detailed critical information when things are changing rapidly.
When the Australian Government introduced the JobKeeper program as part of its COVID-19 response package, the Franchise Council of Australia needed to quickly communicate details about the package to its members.
Two days later the resulting webinar attracted more than 350 participants who watched the entire webcast — a record number for the organisation.
Whether it’s due to the impact of social distancing, or simply the tyranny of distance, sometimes trying to communicate and interact with a broad cross-section of stakeholders is a formidable challenge.
However, through a live webinar you can host an event that can be accessed by anyone regardless of where they’re based — whether they’re in a major city or the outback.
Live briefings via webinar can include a mix of content, including pre-recorded video, remote presenters, questions via live chat and links to chat rooms.
For broad based industry briefings where stakeholders have an interest in different areas of information, you can set up online meeting rooms so participants can attend virtual breakout sessions.
Continuous professional development
Many organisations are finding webinars are an effective tool for continuing professional development, to strengthen member engagement, and raise brand awareness.
Webinars let you deliver online certifications as blended learning programs and content can be tailored to reflect a state, territory or country’s own legislative requirements.
Online chat and resource features enable participants to ask questions of the facilitator as well as access in-depth resources in addition to the slide deck provided. They may also leverage online polling technology in the form of quizzes and assessments to ensure participants acquired the knowledge needed to qualify for professional certifications.
So while the uses of video conferences are many and varied, it pays to know all your online meeting and digital event requirements so you can choose the virtual meeting or event technology that best suits both your audience and your objectives — so you achieve the best possible result.
Redback offers managed digital event services on our premium webinar platform and real-time web, video and teleconferencing on any video-enabled device. Reach out to a sales representative if we can help ensure your next virtual meeting or digital event runs smoothly.