Virtual Events Tech Tips


Hi everyone. This is Jill with The Event Technique. We’re talking about virtual events. We’re going to be here for maybe 15, 20 minutes or so. I’ll try and keep it quick and light and easy. We are the business side of nonprofit events. This is not the site where you want to go if you’re looking for someone that says you need to have everyone in the reception at 6:30 and butts in seats at seven o’clock. I am not your girl, if that’s what you’re looking to do.

              I am the business side of nonprofit events and tonight we’re talking about the business side of virtual events. Super, super important. The homework you need to do before you actually start an event is tremendous. There’s actually more involved with this than there is putting together a physical event, if you can believe that. Most of you, I would suspect, are probably watching this on your phone. When you do your virtual events, you don’t want to necessarily be on your phone, especially if you’re the person that is the moderator or the MC. You want that person to be on a desktop or a laptop where you’ve got a really good web camera and you can make some really great things happen with that. That makes sense, right?

              Here’s the first issue you’re going to encounter. Everybody’s set. You got everybody where they need to be. You turn on the computer and everybody in your house is doing something on the internet. There’s streaming. We don’t Roku or Netflix. They’re going and playing steam or they’re downloading games or whatever it is that they’re doing. They have all of this stuff going on and your now super quick bandwidth has now shrunk to be teeny tiny little space. You don’t have nearly as much speed as you did when you first thought about doing a virtual event. That element is hugely important. You must have just a ton of bandwidth.

              One of the things that you can do to check to see where you are regarding how much bandwidth you have, if you’ve got your phone anywhere nearby, pick it up, and you’re going to look for your carrier. If you’ve got the app on your phone for, I don’t know, Comcast or Verizon or whatever your internet carrier is, or you can download what’s called Speed Test, which is an app that’s on your Apple phone, in the app store, or it’s on the Android and Google play, all that kind of stuff. Find that. Just look for Speed Test and run a speed test on your system to see how much quickness, how much speed you actually have. When you get ready to do your event, you’re going to need a ton of speed. No pun intended. You’re going to be already wired before you even do it, but you’re going to need to have more speed. Who doesn’t know that one? Do that on your phone, run a speed test on your system and make sure you have enough bandwidth to do everything you want to do for your event sense, right? A lot of people don’t.

              In the same vein, don’t ever put your event on public wifi and hope that it’s going to get seen and it’s going to be consistent and you’re going to have it all night long. It doesn’t work like that. When you go on a public wifi, the quality is immediately going to go down, your speed’s going to go down, and you’re going to have audio, in a lot of cases, that’ll cut in and out and video that will cut in and out, which is a bad thing to begin with.

              If it’s a free event, not so bad. If it’s a paid event and people can’t find you or your audio is crummy or your video disappears, that’s really bad. The only thing they’re going to remember about your cool virtual event is the fact that they couldn’t get on to watch it and now they’re out that amount of money. So, if you haven’t run a speed test on your phone, grab your phone, make sure you download the speed test app, and find out what’s on your system and how fast you can run. Hugely important, right? You would be surprised how many organizations do nothing of the sort. They have no idea what’s going on when it gets to speed and the amount of bandwidth they have. Hugely important. Don’t forget that. It’s really a big deal.

              One of the other things, as well, it is probably not the best idea to have your event being run off of a cell phone. Even though cell phones are wonderful. They have great cameras. I’m doing this actually with a cell phone, but you don’t want to run your event off of a cell phone. You definitely want something that you can plug in and has a lot of horsepower and it’s fast. So, your desktop or your laptop, either one. Make sure they’re plugged in and they’re completely charged. Don’t even think about getting into an event without having a complete charge on any of the equipment that you’re going to be using. Nothing can torpedo your event faster than having your MC just evaporate into space because they forgot to plug their computer in. Not cool. Really not cool. Make sure you run the speed test. Make sure everything is charged up and ready to go. Okay? That’s the first go round.

              The second thing is to land on a virtual meeting app or a virtual event app that you really want to use. There’s a zillion of them out there, whether it’s MobileCause, or Event Desk, or Zoom, or a Facebook Live, or however you’re going to do your event. You need to make sure that you actually have software that you like. If you find a company, like one of the previous ones I mentioned, go ahead and ask them for a demo and find out how that software really works. Is it something that you like? You should have the opportunity to practice with it for a while. I know that sounds nuts. It’s like, why do we need to practice? Because when you get live, everybody’s wound up. Everybody’s thinking about all this other stuff and they’re not paying attention. So, if it’s not working in a practice, at least you can correct it. Once you go live, that’s all she wrote. You don’t have that privilege to go back and correct it because now it’s out there. Makes sense?

              Do a little homework. There are a ton of virtual meeting applications that are out there. I mentioned a couple. There’s Zoom, of course. There’s Skype. There’s GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, and some of the others that are specifically geared towards event like MobileCause and Event Desk and things like that. You definitely want to check that out and make sure you’ve got one you really, really like to work with and have the people that are principally involved in working on your event also be comfortable with the software because they’re the ones that are also going to be running all of the Q and A sections, the chat area, all those different things that go into doing the event. Super, super important. Make sure everybody signs on board with whatever virtual meeting app you do.

              In addition to that, you don’t necessarily want to use one that’s free. There’s nothing wrong with paying a few extra bucks… hopefully it’s minor… but a few extra bucks to get the software that does what you want it to do. This is, in a lot of cases, your signature event and so you’ve got people that are paying a tremendous amount of money and if things go wrong, like I said, they’re not going to remember how awesome your event was. They’re going to remember they never got to see it and that’s the worst thing ever. You don’t ever want to have that happen. Be cognizant of that. Make sure you got enough people that are looking at it so that you can evaluate exactly what you need to do because there’s pluses and minuses with all of them. So, you want to make sure you have the best program to suit whatever it is you’re actually going to be doing.

              The next thing. This is something that people… in fact, you’ve probably learned on Zoom already… that sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not so great, and you’re like, “This is driving me nuts. I’m Zoomed out. I’ve had it.” One of the things about platforms that are doing virtual events that drives people crazy is not to be able to see the people that are actually on the screen. You’ve got all these little boxes up there and everybody is this big, which is just crazy anyway, and then you have folks that are in all various shades of lighting and that’s something that drives people nuts. So, one of the big things you can do, and this is something that I learned a long time ago, is have really, really great lighting. I’m standing, actually, in a spot that doesn’t have great lighting, which pretty much emphasizes why you need great lighting.

              Came up with a really cool thing and this is something I’ve been looking for for a while and didn’t really know where to find it. Believe it or not, I found it in Staples. Super cool, right? This set me back about 25 bucks and, believe it or not, it’s a selfie stick. Selfie stick. Who doesn’t remember those, right? Everybody hated them. They were everywhere. Well, here’s the cool thing about this one. One of the things you want to do is make sure that you have a really stable platform. You don’t want to have your phone or whatever you’re using tilt it up against something and hope that that’s going to stay through the entire event. Well, this cool little selfie stick comes with a tripod. How cool is this? You can set it up, all different things, put it on a desk, put the selfie stick on top.

              The cool thing about this then is to go ahead and put your phone in the center, which is really, really neat. You can actually control it with a little remote so that you can know when to get on and get off. And here’s the coolest thing, it lights. How about that? How awesome? Then, on the back, there’s a mirror, just in case. You definitely want the light. The lighting makes a huge difference. I have another ring up here and I’ll show you what happens when you don’t have great lighting. This is not cool when you’re doing an event. It looks like that. Yeah, not so cool. You don’t want people on your board and your sponsors showing up like this on your page. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to get a light on there and make sure it’s going.

              Now, the issue I’m having right now is the sun is setting and of course I didn’t figure that in. So, that’s one of those things you need to pay attention about. Hopefully you’re not going to have that issue going forward.

              Now, the other thing that happens with the equipment, if you will. So you’ve got the selfie stick and the light. Super cool. This, like I said, will set you back like 24.95. This is called a halo stick, I think. And they’re not paying me to say anything. It’s just a cool thing and I like it. The other thing you might want to think about and is super important is what kind of audio are you going to have. If you are doing your event from your desktop… not a laptop, but a desktop… the sound quality you’re going to have is going to be pretty awful, in large part because your system is probably on the floor under your desk or it’s behind someplace. That’s where your microphone is. Not so great, right? It sounds really, really muffled.

              The next thing on your desktop… not bad, better, but not bad. It’s certainly better than using a desktop version, if you will. The best thing, and even if you spring for this only for your MC or whoever your program director is that’s going to be doing most of the talking, invest in a mic. Not a lot of bucks, but the sound quality is amazingly better and that’s hugely important. You definitely want to do that. That could set you back. You can spend crazy amounts of money, but you don’t need to do that. You can usually find one that’s really, really great for considerably less than a hundred dollars.

              Now, considering that you’ve got people at your event that are paying a fair amount of money, most likely, not so bad to invest in some really great equipment, some good lighting and some good sound, because this is going to make a lot of difference. There’s nothing worse than not being able to see somebody or not hear them correctly.

              So far, we’ve talked about some pretty minor things and they can make or break your event, so that’s why those are hugely important things. Remember, so far, we’ve talked about bandwidth, we’ve talked about lighting, we talked about audio. Big deal. Big important.

              Now, another thing you need to think about is you need to have some way to be able to communicate to your guests how this system is going to work. One of the best ways to actually start is to try and communicate with your board members and, occasionally, your sponsors. They’ll actually come later, but let’s start with your board members for practical sake. You’re going to set up a virtual meeting, a virtual event, with a number of different people tuning in from all over, different events going on. If you have a performer, a speaker, all that kind of stuff, and you’re going to do at least one, at least one, trial run, just to make sure that everything works the way you need it to work. This should be common sense.

              Most everybody says, “All right, well, we’ll do a test run. We’ll see how it works.” They get through the first few minutes and they’re like, “Cool, it’s running. We like it. We’re done.” Then, they get to the night of the event and everybody forgot what they were doing. Everybody forgot. I don’t remember how to log in. I don’t know how to set my lights up. I’m not sure how to create the microphone so that they can actually hear me. How do I mute people? All those different questions are all out there and everybody’s forgotten how to do that.

              Nothing like a crisis when nobody knows it’s coming. Not a good thing. You have to practice with your board until everybody is super comfortable being on the video. People are going to do silly things and they’re going to say stuff and they’re going to forget the video’s on and do other kinds of things. You know what happens when you do Zoom calls and Skype and all that stuff. You don’t want that to happen when you actually get into your event. You want people to be organized. You want the dog to be quiet. You want the cat to not be climbing on your desk. You want your children, if they’re there, to be doing something else. Not streaming, right? So that everything goes the way it’s you need it to go. It’s smooth, it’s clean, it’s crisp.

              People are paying a fair amount of money to watch this event and they want it to be great. Because, like I had said earlier, the things they’re going to remember is what didn’t work. It’s never the successes you’re going to have. It’s going to be the stuff that failed. You never want to put yourself in that position where you didn’t test run it enough.

              Now, the other thing is you want to get your sponsors involved. Without a doubt, you would like your sponsors to at least have some practice calling in. Everybody says, “Well, I don’t need to do that. I’m on Zoom all the time or I’m on Skype all the time.” You know what? Have them practice. Have him or her punch in the password, be sitting in the waiting room, all those kinds of things that go into making your event really, really great when your sponsors show up. What a great opportunity for your sponsors to be sitting in their home office someplace and talk to all of your attendees. That’s fabulous.

              It’s not fabulous if it doesn’t work. Think about that. When you’re getting all this stuff together. It may take 15 minutes to get them on the phone and say, “Hey, I’m going to send you a link and I want you to log into here so you know this is how this is going to work.” It seems silly and people are on Zoom all the time, but I’ll tell you what, when you get ready to roll out your event for real, people get nervous, they forget stuff, and you definitely want to have it smooth and clean and crisp and cool because that’s the whole thing with your event. Virtual events can be cool as long as they run really, really well. Make sense? Cool. Okay. Good.

              So, you’ve got all those tests runs. You’ve got all these other things going on. A couple other things, just real quick. Again, back to everything being charged. Make sure, without a doubt, that everything you’ve got is on a charger. Part of the reason for that is you will get much better visuals, much better speed, if you have everything plugged in versus running off the battery. In particular with a laptop, which just drains energy anyway. You definitely want to have everything charged in.

              Let’s do a real quick review and I’ll let you go. I promised this was going to be really, really fast. There’s more, of course, on The Event Technique and The Event Technique round table group, so you want to go to check that out and then go take a look at, some really cool stuff in there.

              Enough of that. Let’s talk about what we just went through real quick. Bandwidth. You don’t know how to run the speed test, download the app, find out how much zippiness you have in your system, because the faster you can make it, the easier your life is going to be. Your audio’s not going to drop out, your video’s not going to drop out, and you’ll be able to see everybody, which is great. Bandwidth is important. Make sure you test for it.

              The virtual meeting app, do a run through every single time, at least four, five, six times with everybody that’s involved so nobody can come back and say, “Well, I don’t know how to do it.” Make sure that they know how to do it before you get to the event because once you go live, it’s too late. It’s all over.

              Make sure that you have a good way to get in touch and keep your guests in the loop, that somebody’s monitoring questions and answers in the chat section. If somebody has a problem, they can’t get to the event itself, they can’t log in, they don’t remember, they lost the email, all those different sorts of things. You need to have a way to keep track of all of that. Somebody, pretty much, if you assigned somebody to do that, that will also run really, really smooth.

              Last but not least, don’t forget about test runs with your sponsors, test runs with your staff. If you want to have a couple of your high end donors, get them involved and let them really be a part of this because once you get them engaged, they’re going to go out and they’re going to say, “This is really cool and you have to watch all this because it’s going to be awesome.” You definitely want to remember those things. I will have them together, all in a list, and that’ll be in The Event Technique round table group, which is also on Facebook. You want to definitely take a look at that and private message me at The Event Technique through Facebook and we’ll make sure we get you copies of all of that and you should be good to go.

              I promised you it would be a quick 15, 20 minutes and we’re closing in on 20 minutes, which is just about perfect. You guys have a great night. It was a pleasure being here with you. You have any questions, please make sure to just private message me on Facebook and at The Event Technique and we can get everything answered for you. You guys take care. Have a great night. We’ll see you soon. Bye bye.

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