Like most types of presentations, hosting an online web conference needs a certain level of pre-thought, consideration and preparation before the event occurs. Online web conferences that have not been previously planned are often slap-dash, appear amateur and don’t keep to the acquired time either due to lack of things to say, or deviation causing the meeting to overrun.
There are many reasons that you may find yourself in the position of hosting an online web conference; perhaps you’re teaching an online class to an audience learning form their own homes, maybe you’re meeting with a clients or other members of your company across a long distance; you may even be a therapist meeting with a client. The purpose of your conference is usually the main differentiator of the amount and type of preparation that needs to be undertaken prior to the presentation date.
However, by following these steps and asking yourself the questions involved, you can ensure you’ve crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s before you host to your audience.
How Long is Long Term?
The long term preparation refers to the initial instigation of your web conference. It is the process of asking yourself questions about the goal you’re hoping to achieve by hosting a webinar and how you intend to reach that goal. Without the initial steps, you may find yourself rushing to get everything done at the last minute, finding that people do not have space in their schedule to attend, and you can’t sources the support and equipment you require.
‘Long term’ in itself, means a period of one to two months prior to your event. This gives you enough time to send warning to potential attendees, book everything you need, plan out your course of action and mentally prepare yourself to deliver an effective and motivational speech. It also gives you time to seek advice from others, have peers read and critique your presentation, and practice running over your lines in the bathroom mirror until they’re burned permanently into your brain neurons.
How Do I Know Where to Start?
The kick off point of preparing for a web conference is always asking yourself what your ultimate aim is; what you’re really looking to achieve. By asking yourself questions, you’re providing yourself with a resolution checklist of steps you need to complete and how they should be undertaken.
You should ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of my web conference?
- What message am I hoping to get across?
- Who are the target audience?
- When do I plan to host the conference?
- Where will be audience be located?
- What will I need?
- Is the information confidential? Do you need secure video conferencing?
Where Do I Go From There?
Now you have a comprehensive checklist of everything you’re hoping to gain from hosting a webinar; you understand your target audience and are ready to get them all on board. The next stage is to take action and get prepared.
- Make a list of the guests you are looking to invite and any issues each one may have, in terms of language, timezones etc.
- Construct a draft of the content you are looking to present to your audience. You need to understand the structure of the meeting, the overall message you wish to convey and the length of time it will take to fit all the relevant information in. Your draft of your content will also be useful later when writing a script.
- Check your own schedule for free dates. Make sure you have enough time just in case your run over, and ensure that there is allotted time for a ‘Question & Answer’ section.
- Determine whether you need extra support and look to assign these people early on (technical support, moderator, etc). Unless you have these people at your disposal for the allocated time of your web conference, you cannot invite your guests. Supposing you invite your guests and then have no technical support, you may find yourself struggling to get the whole process underway.
- Work out what equipment you’ll need, and if necessary, book this out for the day and time your meeting is planned for. As with support personnel, the equipment needs to be secured before inviting participants.
- Reserve a quiet space for that time – noise distractions are unprofessional and can be off putting.
- If the conference is to be conducted with audience members who speak different languages, you must meet with the interpreter to discuss what you would like them to do and run over the draft content – you will need to present them with a script at a later date.
- If the conference is confidential and needs , you should ensure you have a tool suitable for this that passes any laws, policies or protocols you need to follow. In certain cases, you may need to make sure your tools are PIPA complaint (Canada) or HIPAA compliant (US).
- Write an invitation including the time, online login and domain, brief high level agenda. Mailing these out using Google Calendar invitations is both a handy and professional looking way of presenting your information to potential attendees, as you can input the information straight to your schedule and set reminders prior to the event