Online Events: The Details Of Good Preparation

I blogged recently about Preparation That Drives Participation in online events. That prompted some readers to ask me for more details. What does good preparation look like for web events that connect?

I’ve been doing this so long – ten years or so – that I make it look easy. For me, it is pretty easy. I have a detailed plan for every event I lead, and usually Plans B and C up my sleeve. That means I’m not afraid: I know how to adapt to whatever happens. 

But you’re not born knowing this stuff. And if you’re suddenly tasked with taking your event, workshop, training or whatever online, it’s pretty challenging.

As in so many things, Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. And when taking events online, preparation comes at multiple levels.

Great Event Basics

Great online events, such as Web Events That Connect, aren’t very different from great in-the-room events.

  • They are designed and planned with the end in mind. You know why you’re doing it, and especially why anyone would want to attend
  • They are designed and planned in detail, with a written running order listing the times when things should happen and who is responsible for each
  • If there’s an event team, everyone’s been fully briefed about their role and how it affects others.

Great Online Basics

Of course, there are differences. For a start, none of this works without the internet. In-the-room event organisers can choose a venue and rely on the staff to do the rest whereas online, there’s a lot more DIY to be done (unless you get someone in).

And, every participant brings a part of the meeting space with them! That’s a whole extra level of complication.

Central Preparation

As the event organiser, you’ll need to:

  • Choose the online event platform and other tools that you’ll use
  • Find effective ways to communicate with participants
  • Understand the differences between in-the-room and online events when it comes to design, facilitation and production, and build your own or others’ skills in the new environment
  • Ensure that your written plans (A, B and C) are in the hands of all relevant parties

Preparing Participants

Event more than in-the-room, your participants (including any presenters, trainers, moderators etc) can make or break an online event. 

  • Make sure everyone can be seen and heard. (In web events that connect, that means everyone, not just the speakers. Thats why I choose Zoom.) They’ll need:
    • A decent internet connection
    • A webcam
    • A headset
    • A quiet place to call from 
  • Make sure everyone can use the relevant technology:
    • Do they have the right joining links etc?
    • Do they understand how to join and participate?
    • Are they actually able to join – not blocked by despots in IT or government?
  • Make sure they understand that this stuff matters – and they’ll have more fun when more people get it right. (Presenters who can’t see their audience are almost universally boring.)
  • Make sure that any presenters understand that:
    • Presentation sections must be super short (less than ten minutes absolute max)
    • Slides are a huge turn off, and should only be used where essential. Fill them with pictures, not words
    • The plan includes lots of interaction with the whole group/audience because that helps people stay engaged. Q+A is not a lazy afterthought
    • They should stick to the timetable to keep things brisk. 

I wish that a quick email was enough to cover all this off with people. Usually, it isn’t.

How to persuade people to come to a preparation session? I wish I had a magic wand!

  • Is this useful? What have I missed? Please comment below.

1 thought on “Online Events: The Details Of Good Preparation”

  1. Thanks Judy. I would add that doing a run through/rehearsal with the hosting team, really helps identify any logistical or technical issues you may not have thought of…
    For example, with one of my partnership, we’re having to use MS Teams, not Zoom, which doesn’t have break-out rooms. OK, so how to have break out groups? mmm, lets try having multiple calls within Teams. So, lets have half the group drop off the main call, and join another call… which means no random groups, ok lets assign them… how do hosts move around?… ok let’s test all that… This is so different to saying ‘each group take a corner of the room’ when you’re f2f!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *