Get the most out of your TechConnect Zoom meetings, take a few minutes to review this article and learn some great tips to get started. Then, refer to our extensive list of articles in this support site to learn how to use features within TechConnect Zoom and ConferZoom in Canvas.
Best Practices for Successful TechConnect Zoom Online Events
Let’s be candid: a lot of online events fail to meet everyone's expectations due to a lack of planning and following best practices recommendations. Tips in this article will put you on the path to meet and exceed your expectations, and those of your attendees, resulting in a successful event. These tips will help when you are preparing to present in a meeting or a webinar. Note, a webinar license does need to be purchased to use the webinar platform, and there is a cost associated. See our Webinar Guide for additional information on using the webinar platform.
Take a few minutes to review all settings offered for both live and recorded sessions - you may be surprised at some of your great options! Meeting Settings apply by default to all meetings; however, when scheduling a meeting you can disable or enable some of the options on a per meeting basis. Additional settings are available only in the desktop app; these settings will also apply to all meetings. The settings you choose apply to your hosted meetings, regardless of how you connect to your meetings (desktop app, website portal, or Canvas).
When scheduling a meeting or webinar, the registration option can provide valuable data for analysis before the event. In addition to gathering basic information such as name, email, and organization, you have the opportunity to customize questions to learn more about the registrant’s knowledge and experience on the topic offered. What you learn from the responses may lead you to modify your presentation to address the needs of your audience.
A typical online event is one hour in duration. If you have a longer event, keep in mind it is easy for attendees to lose focus; computers are known as one of the most distracting environments ever. Industry recommendation is to never exceed two hours when possible. Even with a one-hour event, we recommend at least 10 minutes be set aside for interactive activity such as Q&A. If you need to deliver more content than one hour will allow, consider breaking the session up into multiple, bite-sized presentations. Record your events to share later, or keep private for your own reference. Recorded events provide attendees the opportunity to review the content as often as needed, and allow those who couldn't attend to stay on track.
Start Early, Start Interacting
Start a new habit! Open your session at least 15 minutes prior to the start time. Turn on your audio and video, make announcements often, welcome early arrivers, and let them know how long before the presentation begins. Encourage an interactive environment; invite attendees to enter questions and requests in chat before the presentation starts.
Use the Buddy System
Have you ever hosted a large number of attendees on your own? It can be overwhelming. If you expect more than 20 people to join you, consider bringing a colleague to assist you; make them a co-host to help manage participants and respond to chat and Q&A while you focus on content delivery. Also consider sharing content delivery; hearing a different voice and presentation style helps keep attendees focused.
Two Screens are Better Than One!
It can be challenging to manage all aspects of an online event on a single monitor. With a second monitor, you can screen share on your primary display and move your participants list and chat to a secondary monitor, giving you greater ability to track everything at a glance. Don’t have dual monitors… sign into a second computer or laptop as an attendee, then promote the 'attendee' to a co-host for assisting with attendee management.
Put Out the Welcome Mat
Get off to the right start with an opening slide with the title of the presentation, the host’s name and the start time. Include a logo for your organization for added name recognition. Include a housekeeping slide to let attendees know what tools they have access to such as chat, how and when you will answer questions, and any other details that make the attendees comfortable before you begin presenting. Screenshots on where to find the icons for chat, closed captions, etc. are also helpful.
Waste No Time
Introduce yourself and the event with a brief overview, then dive right into the content. Content is why they are attending, and good presentation skills will keep them focused.
Visualize Your Content… Avoid “Death by PowerPoint”
We know you have seen it and maybe you are guilty of it. Those text-heavy slides may seem meaningful and informative, but what they actually do is draw attention away from the presenter’s verbal content. Replace the wall-of-text slides with images, single key terms or brief phrases as speaking points that help to drive the content home without distracting from the presentation. You may need more slides to do this successfully, and you may need to push through them more quickly than before. Visualize your content to create a more lasting impression. Use a slide as an introduction to the topic, then live screen share to demonstrate when possible; for example, show how to navigate the college’s counseling appointment website, course management system, or new online math programs. Estimate how much time you can spend on each slide based on how much time you scheduled for the event; use a timer if necessary until you develop a pace that works for you.
Encourage a Discussion-based Presentation
Lectures are great for conveying information, but never discount the engaging power of discussion. Your moderator should be skilled enough to bring in questions that lead to a discussion on topics of interest. If you are hosting multiple presenters, ask them to co-present on a topic when possible. Hearing multiple voices along with their questions and comments will help keep attendees focused.
There are numerous benefits to recording your sessions: share with persons who could not attend, provide a chance for attendees to review the content, and more. Consider whether you want to record from beginning to end, or if you only wish to record certain portions of the event. There will be a separate recording file produced for each portion of the event when you opt to start and stop recording; you may need to stitch those files together with a basic video editing software. You can also pause the recording at certain intervals, then resume recording when appropriate; this creates one continuous recording, so you could announce that you are pausing the recording and will resume the recording when ready for the next topic. We recommend starting the recording just after delivery of the housekeeping slide as that instruction is not useful to those watching a recording. Recordings are private, appearing only in your account until you choose to share the files and links through email or website postings. Recording files can be deleted, and when you record to the cloud, you can still download a local copy to store on your computer.
Vary the type of interaction to promote engagement and interest in an event. Consider interacting at regular intervals without making it too formulaic, five-minute intervals is a good marker. Use all of the tools at your disposal so that the interaction avoids becoming mundane. Prepare polling questions in advance and choose to offer open, single or multiple-choice options. Ask attendees to type in a response to a question or comment in chat. Hand raising is also a quick and easy way for attendees to respond to your questions. Any of these options are great as an ice-breaker to learn a bit more about your attendees and their level of experiences or knowledge.
Grab Attention With Annotation Tools
TechConnect Zoom’s annotation tools are top notch. Draw freehand or select from available shapes, highlight, and use arrows to point to specific items on your slides. A red spotlight tool uses your mouse as a laser pointer.
Take Advantage of Your Web Cam
Get face-to-face with your audience. Attendees may not have met you before, and would like to see who is speaking with them. Maybe all you need is a few minutes during the introduction, then turn off your web cam, or if appropriate to the event, keep the camera rolling! Lighting should come from in front of you, never behind you to avoid casting shadows on your face. If you have access to a more advanced equipment set up, one or two crane lamps set up behind your computer monitor and facing you will accomplish this nicely. The background should be interesting, not distracting.
Keep your eye on the camera… look at your webcam instead of your screen. This will give the effect of being in a face-to-face event at a meeting or classroom space. Be yourself, use gestures and mannerisms that you would typically use in person. If you are viewing the video feed of others, try moving that feed to a monitor position just below your webcam to make this easier.
Leave Attendees With a Summary and Call-to-Action
Review the purpose and accomplishments in your presentation with your attendees; if there is more to come, announce the next session. If the attendees have work to complete, remind them. Be sure to provide contact information for future questions. Consider a survey. Once your survey is completed, you may link to it in a follow-up email or send it separately. Keep your survey brief, three to five questions to encourage the highest possible response rate.
Make your call-to-action clear and concise, and be sure to provide your audience with everything that they need to succeed.