Online conference – here’s what to keep in mind

Online events have now become a permanent fixture in the marketing and business world. This form of meetings, which was indispensable during the pandemic, has opened up new possibilities and amazed with really good outreach. However, hosting an event in the virtual world has not simplified the work of organizers. Whether planning a trip to a Caribbean beach or transferring participants to one merely virtually, everything requires careful planning, checking and implementation. Here are some tips to keep in mind when organizing an online press conference.

Objective and target group

Before starting preparations, it is a good idea to clearly define the purpose of the planned event and the group of journalists and people it will target. This will make it easier to choose the right format and prepare content. Wanting to know the needs and expectations of potential audiences, we can conduct a preliminary analysis (such as an interview with potential participants). It is also worth taking their opinions into account when determining the main purpose of the event, which may be, for example, to raise awareness of a particular industry, attract new customers, establish business contacts or inform the media about changes in the company.

With a clearly outlined goal of the event, it is easier to determine its main audience, i.e. our target group. We should know and define it thoroughly. In the case of a press conference, for example, it will be journalists and opinion leaders from a selected media segment or region.

When we know what the purpose of our conference is and what guests we will invite to it, we can get down to planning and choosing tools.

Conference budget

If you want to increase the efficiency of your project, focus on the budget as soon as you have a direction. A good estimate of expenses at the initial stage of the project avoids unnecessary costs and saves time, which we can devote to other conference planning tasks. Holding an accurately written out budget in hand, we know what we can afford, and we are better able to negotiate prices with suppliers, which ultimately allows us to take advantage of better deals.

Selection of the recording site

Even if the conference will be broadcast online – it has to be recorded at some location. So do not forget to determine, a convenient location, the choice of which can be determined by, among other things: the number of participants, exposure of possible equipment, technical infrastructure (including access to the Internet and electricity), budget (a conference broadcast from the company’s conference room is sometimes a cheaper option than renting a studio), etc.

Appropriate audio-visual setting

An online press conference can be recorded anywhere with internet access, using the appropriate hardware and software. In the case of an elaborate scenario, I most recommend using the services of an external company, which will take care of the professional recording, editing of the video conference, and after everything will give us an optimized file with the recording, which we can pass on, for example, to journalists who did not have the opportunity to attend the event that day.

The most optimal conditions are in the recording studio, where, with the magic of green screen, the editor can move us during the conference to any place, even to the above-mentioned Caribbean beach in the middle of winter. The professionals there will take care of the proper lighting, determine the necessary number of cameras for the scenario’s assumptions, and help with the streaming platform so that everything works as it should.

Video and audio quality should be a top priority when organizing a virtual conference. You shouldn’t skimp on the audiovisual setting, because even the most interesting content and top-notch experts won’t keep journalists occupied if the streaming channel is failing.

Sometimes the budget does not allow to hire a studio and streaming company. In such cases, it is up to the event manager to ensure that the equipment is properly prepared and that participants can enjoy a good quality broadcast and have access to the necessary tools, such as cameras, microphones, appropriate software and a link to the conference.

There are many platforms with the help of which we will conduct an online broadcast. The most basic ones are Zoom, Skype or Google Meet, which we have become familiar with while working remotely. We can also use dedicated software for recording video conferences, such as ezTalks, Webex or GoToMeeting – the point, however, is to choose a program that suits the needs of the scenario and has the necessary functionality for its implementation.

Master script

Attractive content presented during the event is the key. Without it, we will not be able to maintain a satisfactory attendance even for 15 minutes! Unfortunately, in the online variant of the event, we have no control over the environment of our audience, and therefore the number of “distractions” circulating around them. Focus is something worth fighting for when writing a script, because only by focusing attention is it possible for information to reach long-term memory. According to research, after just 30-45 minutes, the attention span of the audience drops sharply. Therefore, longer conferences are sincerely not recommended. Short breaks between scheduled thematic blocks are also important. The conference will not get long for the guests if, for example, we take care during the conference to interact with the participants. For this purpose, we can plan, for example, chats, surveys or questions asked to the speakers by journalists during the streaming. Skillfully applied, they are not only an element that catches the attention of the audience, but also allow us to highlight the most important facts. This allowed participants to actively participate in the conference and interact with it.

The exact scenario of the conference should be communicated early to the participants and the team. It ensures that each participant knows his or her issues, the director knows when who is entering, and the editor provides a virtual presentation, interactive quizzes or backgrounds on the audience’s screen. That’s why several variants of the script are prepared before the conference – one for the presenter, another for those in the director’s office and camera operators, and a third for the conference participants. The person who has all the versions collected in one file is usually the event manager, and it is he who is responsible for making sure that all the people gathered in the studio work smoothly according to the plan.

An effective invitation is essential

A conference invitation always has its rivals. The first of these is timing. Depending on the possibilities, it is advisable to send invitations 2-4 weeks in advance, so that journalists can reserve a date and prepare for participation. The invitation, in written or digital form, should include information about the conference, i.e.: date and place, duration, names and titles of experts/speakers, RSVPs and information about the possibility of submitting questions online. The invitation should be visually appealing. Creative mailing of a printed invitation increases the chances of remembering the event date and, ultimately, attendance.

Monitoring and analysis

After the conference, it is a good idea to conduct an analysis of the results (summarizing the list of current editorials and publications in traditional and social media) in order to draw appropriate conclusions for the future. This will help you improve your next online conferences.

By applying the tips described above, you will successfully prepare a successful online conference that will satisfy both participants and the client. Remember, however, that organizing an online conference requires constant adaptation to current needs and trends, as well as continuous improvement of your skills.

Online conference platforms – a comparison

Options Livestream Zoom Meeting Demio My own conference Livestorm GetResponse ClickMeeting
Attendance analysis YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
Landing page YES NO YES YES YES YES YES
URL customization YES YES YES NO NO YES YES
Branding YES YES YES NO YES YES YES
Meeting rooms YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
Surveying YES NO YES YES YES YES YES
Q&A Sessions YES NO YES YES YES YES YES
Polls YES NO YES YES YES YES YES
Chat YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
Recording YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
Multistreaming / Fb Live, YouTube integration YES YES NO YES YES YES YES
User account required NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
E-mail marketing NO NO YES YES YES YES NO
Link Livestream Zoom Demio My own conference Livestorm GetResponse ClickMeeting
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