Top Tips for Hosting a Virtual Round Table Conference

Top Tips for Hosting a Virtual Round Table Conference

Online meetings and web conferencing is serious business which requires just as much attention to detail and professionalism as a traditional face-to-face meeting.

It doesn’t matter if you’re seasoned pro or just starting out, there are some key elements that you need to pay attention to in order to have a smooth online conferencing session, so here are our top tips for hosting a virtual round table conference:

  1. Set an agenda
    So many people forget this most fundamental element when sending an invitation. Include an agenda, even just a few key points, so that everyone understands the core objectives of your session. This will help keep your meeting organised with a structure. Even if this is your first conference, you’ll look like a pro to your audience.
  2. Audio
    Make sure your audio equipment is connected and working properly before you go live. Audio quality will have a huge impact on the success of your online meetings and web conferences. Also be aware that your internet connectivity can also impact your audio quality, so be particularly aware if you’re connecting from home or over mobile internet.
  3. Video
    As with audio, if you’re planning on using video in your conference, make sure your equipment is working and that you now how to use it. Also, be presentable as if you would if you’re meeting in person, so ditch the PJ’s and dressing gown and dress appropriately. Use a nice background if you have one, clear away any visible mess (bonus tip – some conference tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom allow you to set a virtual background).
  4. Being on time is 5 minutes late
    As frustrating as it is to wait for guests to turn up to the session, it’s a thousand times worse for guests to wait for the host. Get into the session early (e.g. 5 or 10 mins), especially if this is your first time, and check that your setup is working properly. It also gives you some time to focus your thoughts and get into the zone.
  5. Familiarise yourself with your conferencing tool
    There are many tools for web conferencing now, and aside from audio / video, they often have a range of other features available that you may find useful. Some of these platforms may include screen sharing, whiteboards, chat box and break-out rooms which are great for any number of scenarios. Some of the more advanced tools allow you as the host to control who can be seen and / or heard, giving you complete control how the session runs.
  6. Know your subject
    Try to avoid from reading from a script, slides or decks. These are useful for reference when discussing the subject at hand, but to sit and read word for word can be very off putting for your audience. Keeping the conversation and content delivery as natural as possible will go down a treat.
  7. Check in with your audience periodically
    Depending on the type of session you’re running, if you have a lot of content to cover you should make sure that your audience is keeping up with you and understanding what you’re talking over. Give them a chance to ask questions and be prepared to repeat or even rephrase your content to encourage understanding. If questions are likely to go too deep into a particular area or perhaps you don’t have enough detail to tackle the question now, don’t be shy to acknowledge the question and follow up with a full answer or additional detail after the session.
  8. Keep to the agenda
    It’s easy to get side-tracked, digress and spin off into other directions. This is often a sign of a healthy session with lots of energetic discussion and ideas being thrown around, however, do remember the reason you’re holding your conference and bring it back on track (politely).
  9. Recap and Next Steps
    After your session it’s helpful to contact your audience, recap points discussed, share material, and answer questions. You should also outline any next steps and actions required by you or your audience.
  10. Follow up
    You’ve spent time and money hosting your session, so make sure you follow up with your audience – may it be to secure a sale, promote more sessions, or just to check in and see if they need anything else.

Bonus Tip: Don’t eat whilst on your conference! It may seem like an obvious suggestion, however, some people do it… Whist it’s nice to meet a client for a meal or perhaps afternoon tea, it just doesn’t work well on video conference. That aside, having water or a nice cuppa is perfectly fine to wet your whistle and avoid getting a dry throat whilst talking.

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