As more people are working from home, online events have become the norm for many. Lots of businesses are now holding online events for their employees, and to replace previous events that would have been at a live venue, or in the office.

Online events can be anything from a department meeting, to a brainstorming session, or even a company conference.

Online meetings can be just as productive, and may be easier than having all attendees in the same room or office.

Google have produced some useful advice and guidance on how best to organise your online event strategy, in the form of a downloadable guide.

I wanted to go over some of the guidance from Google, and my own tips for a successful online event.

The Approach

It is important to know why people would be attending your event, and if an online event is really the best option for you.

In some cases, a pre-recorded video might be the best option, as opposed to a live video.

If you are wanting to hold a meeting or brain-storming session, a live video call with do fine.

However, if you want to present something, or showcase a project, a pre-recorded video will be better.

The Approach to Online EventsImage Credit: Google

There are technical difficulties that can arise with a live online event, in some cases people could lose connectivity.

However not all live events have to be 100% ‘live’.

You can always pre-record your event and show the recording live to your audience, or have it as a video for people to watch when they want to.

Live Event Platforms

The guide goes through several Google platforms and details benefits about each. The best platforms for business events are;

A note about Zoom – due to the sudden upsurge in usage, there have been reports of security issues and cases of ‘hacker crashing‘ during live events on Zoom. If you are going to use Zoom, take care when doing so and don’t share your host key publicly.

Event Design

If you are hosting or recording an online event, it is important to keep your brand guidelines in mind. It is not always easy to have custom graphics or editing for a live event or pre-recorded video, but small design choices can have a good impact.

For example, your background setup can include branded items from your business. Even having a banner in the background displaying your logo makes a good impression.

If you are pre-recording a video, include your logo at the beginning and at the end. If you can, use your logo on screen throughout, and use your branded font for any text that appears.

Your Setup

Not everybody has access to a free-standing camera in their office that is hooked up to their computer.

Most laptops have good cameras, and even your mobile can be used as a camera for an online event.

Look at what you are wanting to record or present, and think what will be the best option for you. If you only need to record yourself, a phone camera might be easiest – but if you need access to a screen, it might be better to record with a laptop.

This is the same for a microphone, not everyone has a stand-alone mic, the mic on your laptop or phone will be fine.

Moving from live events to online eventsImage Credit: Google

Tips for using your laptop or phone as a camera and mic

Connect your charger

If you are using a phone or a laptop, recording video or live streaming can take up lots of battery. To avoid cutting out or losing power, keep your charger connected to your device throughout.

Don’t cover your mic

Most phones have a mic at the bottom, whereas some laptops have a mic in a strange place. Be sure to have a look where your mic is, and ensure you are not accidentally covering it during your event.

Try and use headphones

There is no need to use headphones for a pre-recorded event, but using headphones on a live event can be extremely useful.

The most common issue with live events is volume playback – where your computer echoes. Wearing headphones (or earphones) will cancel out any volume playback, and you can still record your voice if you are speaking.

Make sure everyone can see you

Place your laptop or phone in a position where everyone can see you clearly. Think about lighting or glare.

Engagement

When you are holding a live online event, you need to ensure that people can interact with you, but ask them to mute their mic during the event.

Live chats

Most live event platforms have a chat feature, this is great for people who might not be able to speak, but still want to contribute.

YouTube Live Chat for EventsScreenshot: Live Chat from the NASA ISS Live Stream – Earth From Space | ISS Live Feed: ISS Tracker + Live Chat | broadcast on YouTube

Having a chat feature can also keep everyone informed during your event, as you, and everyone attending, can see and has access to the chat.

Questions and answers

If you have a scripted event, it can be distracting when people have questions. To avoid losing track, let people know you will have a ‘questions and answers session’ at the end.

Closed Captions (CC) and subtitles

Hangout Meets and YouTube Live Stream do offer Closed Caption (CC) support. To make your event accessible for everyone, turn closed captions on when using Hangouts or YouTube Live.

Closed Captions on a YouTube videoScreenshot: Crew Dragon Launch Escape Demonstration (SpaceX) | video on YouTube

If you have pre-recorded a video, you could add your own subtitles, or enable them on YouTube.

Inviting people to your event

With Google Hangouts Meet you can add an event in your calendar and invite people.

If you are holding an event online which you want people to join, advertise your event by sending attendees an email, posting about your event on social media and on your website.
With most online platforms, you can share a link for your event – for example, Google Hangouts creates a link when you set up the event.

Set up a Google Hangouts Meet event

To do this, go to your Google Calendar, and create an event. To add a Google Hangouts Meet, click the ‘Add Conferencing’ option.
Set up Google Hangouts Meet in your Google Calendar

From here you will get an auto-generated link for your event.

To copy the link, and see the phone number and pin people can call in with, click on the box for more details.

Join Google Hangouts Meet details in Google Calendar event

Please be aware that to use Google Hangouts Meet (for up to 250 people) you have to be a customer of Google’s G Suite for businesses.

If you don’t have G Suite, Google Hangouts is free, but with less people on a call at once.

If your link is not ready, or you are still sorting out the details, let people know how they can be the first to know about your event.

Make it easy for people to follow you online by linking your social media profiles on your website. If available, you can get people to sign up your event, by joining your mailing list.

Advertising your event

When advertising your event on social media, through email, or on your website, add all the details people need to access your event. This includes the event;

  • Date
  • Time
  • Expected duration
  • Platform
  • How to find a recording of your event, when it’s over

But be careful not to overdo it. Post regularly about your event, but not constantly.
You can add a blog post to your website about your event, and link to it on social media. This way you can keep all your event details in one place and avoid miscommunication.

Best practice for advertising your event over email

Send the first email at least a few days in advance, with all the details people need to access your event.

Then, send a follow-up reminder 24 hours before the event, so everyone is aware and you get as many attendees as possible.

I hope that these tips and advice will help you if you are looking to hold an online event any time soon. Please let me know how you get on, and share your experience online.


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