How To: Rock a Webinar or Virtual Event

We’ve been in this virtual working world for a few years now, and here’s something I’ve learned: webinars and virtual events can be tricky. Is the audio working for everyone? How do I manage the chat? Which platform is best — Zoom or Teams? Luckily for you, our team at Vanguard has produced virtual events for many clients during this digital age, and we have compiled some of our most valuable tips and tricks here so you can step into your next project with confidence.

Mute everyone.

While this may seem obvious, muting everyone (participants and panelists included, except for the person speaking) can be vital to the success of your webinar. A dog barking or latent microwave beep can throw off even the most seasoned presenter — and is just annoying to listen to for everyone else. Many platforms have an option to mute everyone upon entry to the call which ensures every attendee is accounted for and no one has to do the awkward subtweet in the chat or disrupt the presentation. If you want to take it a step further, some platforms offer the option to take away all attendees’ ability to unmute entirely.

If you’re concerned about your presenters’ ability to monitor their mute-status, but want to ensure they can talk when needed, utilize the participants tab. As the host, you’ll have the ability to mute or unmute any attendee. Mark your presenters as panelists or hosts depending on the platform and they’ll be sectioned off into a separate part of the tab so you can easily keep your eye on their audio button.

Spotlight your speakers.

There is nothing more distracting than a multitasking attendee. Recent research found that the average American’s attention span is dwindling, with people rarely spending their time focused on just one item (aka your presentation). This is generally fine, unless cameras are on and all attendees can see someone making their midday snack. Avoid any unwanted camera time altogether by disabling video for participants.

If you have multiple presenters, spotlight each as they begin their section and remove the spotlight as soon as they are finished. Idle presenters are no different than attendees in their ability to distract from the topic at hand. By spotlighting the person speaking, you make it much more likely that your viewers are focusing on the presentation.

Press record before anyone talks.

As you can probably tell by now, producing a webinar is mainly trying to mitigate distractions so that participants can digest as much of the content as possible. Take yourself out of the equation by ensuring your camera is off, your line is muted, and you press record before anyone starts speaking.

Though a helpful tool, the announcement that recording has begun can be a major disruption if your presentation is already well underway — not to mention you lose valuable introductions for those who watch after the fact. By pressing record as soon as you open the call, everything is captured and no one gets cut off mid-sentence. As the old adage goes: You can always cut out, but you can’t always add in.

Like anything, running a webinar takes practice. All the tips in the world can’t replace hands-on experience, but they can certainly help you feel more confident. Take a deep breath, press record, and remember: you’ve got this!