Companies are adapting to the remote business lifestyle. Even when we’re no longer exclusively meeting up online, it is likely virtual events are here to stay.
It is critical to learn how these virtual programs can help your business. Knowing how to conduct online business is like first learning how to dress for work. Style points count.
Further, virtual conferences – even when not a requirement – can expand your audience beyond geographical limitations. And can provide a more time- and cost-effective way to conduct any business, even local.
There are, of course, many technology platforms for online meetings – including Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, and others. But Zoom has become synonymous with our times, and has become the go-to source for small businesses, which appreciate the no- to low costs for entry and quick ramp up to success use.
Here are our top 5 tips to help your business run smooth next-level virtual conferences on the Zoom platform. Learn these and you’ll raise your virtual game from simply “being there” to “maximizing the experience.”
1. Set Up Breakout Sessions
In your virtual meeting, you have the ability to divide your meetings into different groups. This can be a useful tool if you have different departments or if you are a larger company trying to focus on specific ideas. Don’t want your audience to fade into the background? Break them out! Give them their close-up – and face time with others. These are meetings within meetings and can really switch up the dynamic fast!
Breakout sessions should be no larger than ten people; providing everyone a chance to share their thoughts. Big ideas can be saved for the general meeting room. Furthermore, a moderator can be assigned to each of these sessions to keep the conference on track.
If you are conducting a virtual conference that spans different companies or brings smaller branches of a larger company together, breakout rooms can provide a great opportunity to network with each other. Although simultaneous conversations aren’t recommended on Zoom to reduce cross-channel communications, breakout rooms can still help your attendees break the ice with each other.
How to create a breakout room:
- Start an instant or scheduled meeting.
- Click “Breakout Rooms.”
- Select the number of rooms you would like to create and how you would like to assign your participants to those rooms. OR Automatically: Let Zoom split your participants up evenly into each of the rooms.
- Click “Create Breakout Rooms.”
2. Record Your Meetings
You can record your Zoom conference. This makes it easy to review covered material at a later point. This can also be an efficient way to track attendance and engagement in the meeting. Reviewing events have a way of pointing out things you missed the first time around.
Extra tip: Reviewing these patterns can help you gauge your session effectiveness. If people seem to leave during a certain part in your virtual conference, consider improving or removing that section.
Recording the meeting can also be shared with employees or attendees that were unable to make it to your virtual conference. You have the ability to download your recorded file which can then be emailed or uploaded to a central location for internal or public use.
How to Record Your Meeting:
- Start a Zoom meeting as the host.
- Click the option to Record.
- If there is a menu, select “Record on this Computer.”
- Click Participants to see which participants are currently recording.
- After the meeting has ended, Zoom will convert the recording so you can access the files.
3. Screen Sharing Will Help Keep Your Attendees Engaged
Being the host of the meeting means you can show what is on your screen simultaneously while talking. This can be helpful when you want to show a presentation, key graph or visual, or even explain a digital process to your company. Sharing your screen is essentially the same feature as being in a conference room looking at your own TV screen in person.
Screen sharing allows everyone present at your virtual conference to follow your information by engaging with a visual element. People learn best when they can both hear and see related information, rather than just focusing on one or the other.
If you ever have attended a virtual conference, you might have an awareness that you may lose concentration from time to time during a lecture. Utilizing the screen sharing feature can help you keep your attendees engaged and involved.
How to share your screen:
- Join or start a Zoom meeting.
- In your meeting, you’ll see a selection of meeting controls, including the ability to mute your voice, start and stop video, and more. Select the green “Share Screen” icon.
- Choose the screen you want to share.
- Click “Share.”
4. Ensure Your Internet Connection
One issue that can greatly decrease the effectiveness and quality of your virtual conference is having a poor internet connection. A poor internet connection can lead to delayed or broken speech and distorted video pictures for your audience. Invest in bandwidth and test and re-test your output quality prior to your live event.
If conducting business from home, recommend to others using the same connection (kids in school, other adults working, cats shopping for toys online) to reduce streaming or downloading during your virtual conference time.
If using a Wi-Fi connection, make sure your device is located near your router. Having a device far in proximity from your router will decrease your Wi-Fi’s ability to provide the best connection it can.
Or even better, you can use a hardwired ethernet connection that is not affected by router proximity. Ethernet connections generally provide better internet connection given that your device is directly connected to your router. Most ethernet cables can be found for less than $10 – worth it!
Lastly, always test your output to people on different internet connections. You can test your output using a second device, but if both devices are on the same internet connection, you won’t receive the most objective results. Try asking a colleague who is located in a different location to join a Zoom meeting and ensure your video and audio output is up to quality expectations.
5. Virtual Backgrounds Can Save Your Image
Utilizing the virtual background feature on Zoom can be a great tool if you are conducting a virtual conference out of the office. Sometimes we have work spaces that may not be the most organized, or which could be distracting to the people attending your virtual conference.
Using a virtual background can mask the background behind you and only show you. The best part is, Zoom’s virtual backgrounds don’t require a green screen.
How to use a Virtual Background:
- Start a Meeting
- Click “Start Video”
- Click the upwards arrow located on the “Start Video” button
- Click “Choose Virtual Background”
- Select any of the preset backgrounds or upload your own photo
Uploading a photo related to your company can be a great option to add a professional look to your virtual conference. If you want to further improve the performance of your virtual background, Zoom does support green screen use. Using a green screen will improve the tracking of your body in contrast to the background, so it might be a worthwhile investment if you conduct virtual conferences regularly.