At Rees McCann our aim is to make online events better than in-the-room ones. Since well before the lockdown, we’ve been creating highly-engaging experiences that help people to connect, to chat, have fun, and even get into deep conversations about the stuff that really matters – online.
Of course, we’ve been rushed off our feet since the covid crisis hit, designing, producing and facilitating online events, workshops and conferences, and teaching others to do the same.
- Preparation, preparation, preparation! With any large, high-profile or controversial event, make sure you allow enough time to get things properly organised. Involve the right people in the planning, and put the detailed plan in writing. Hold a dry-run or participant-preparation event if it’s warranted.
- Set things up so that feedback flows. With smaller events, that means making sure everyone can see and hear everyone else clearly – and then making sure you pay attention. In large events, it might mean using chat, polls or other tools. Ask for feedback frequently. Avoid fumbling around in the dark.
- Choose technology that inspires confidence and invites engagement. That might mean selecting familiar, easy-to-use tools in preference to more sophisticated ones. Do whatever you can to reduce digital disadvantage and create a level-ish playing field.
- Spell out the details. We’ve all had decades of experience with in-the-room events, so lots of things “go without saying”. In the relatively new world of online events, conventions are still emerging. That means it’s polite to specify things like the expected level and method of engagement (“Please use the chat for X, not Y”). To reduce misunderstandings, give any instructions in writing alongside the spoken version.
- Have a Plan B – and a Plan C. Things are bound to go wrong sometimes, so make sure everyone’s prepared. Make sure you can contact your participants quickly in the event of a tech catastrophe, and that they can contact you.