As communication technology continues to evolve, an increasing number of business leaders are seeing the advantages of hosting virtual and blended meetings. Our expert staff has worked with organizations to make the most of these innovative events, at both a national and global level.
Blended meetings create many possibilities for event organizers to engage more attendees and cut the costs associated with everyone meeting on-site. However, conducting a successful blended meeting requires the right combination of preparation, technology, and engagement to ensure that all attendees (both on and off site) have an equal experience. To avoid communication set-backs and to achieve an optimal participant experience, here are a few elements to consider:
- Prepare in advance. Make sure to send the agenda and any visuals ahead of time so that attendees know what to expect and can better understand the purpose of the meeting. Also, send remote log-in information at least one day before the event so that virtual participants can check for any software downloads needed as well as test the connection before the meeting begins.
- Require everyone on-site to use a laptop. Every person who is actually at the event should have their own laptop with the meeting software running and the webcam on in order to be on the same page as the virtual attendees. Video-conferencing software, such as Adobe Acrobat Connect or Microsoft Office Live Meeting, will create a camera pod for your meeting with live video of everyone attending the event both on and off site. Instruct your attendees to speak at a slightly slower pace to accommodate for system time delays and to also look directly at their webcam to achieve stronger eye contact.
- Keep your audience engaged. Unfortunately, a common issue of telecommunication is that keeping participants’ attention is more difficult than it is when everyone is in the same room as each other. In order to keep your attendees focused on the meeting, you must make sure that they are talking and engaged. Before the meeting starts, break the ice by having everyone introduce themselves. Also, ask questions and take polls throughout the meeting to spark conversation and evoke interest.
- Use a facilitator. When hosting a virtual conference, it can be extremely helpful to the main presenter to have a facilitator present to handle any technical issues and participant questions. Instead of having to constantly monitor chat questions, the presenter can simply be notified by the facilitator if and when a question does arise.
If you have arranged a blended meeting previously, what steps did you take to ensure all participants had an optimal experience? Share your advice in the comments below.