by Scilla Andreen
As CEO of Indieflix, I help provide social emotional learning experiences that have a long and lasting measurable impact. With social distancing becoming our new norm due to COVID-19, IndieFlix decided to make a commitment to creating online solutions for schools and communities during this time of uncertainty. We’ve started hosting virtual screenings of our film-based education events, which include discussion panels and audience Q&A.
Moving our program from venues to virtual has been an exciting challenge, and I’ve personally learned a lot from making that transition. Here are some tips to help you host your own online events.
Prep as much as you can ahead of time
Set up a meeting with your panelists and provide an outline ahead of time so they know what is expected of them during the event. Make sure everyone has their browsers updated, and if they plan to screen share during the panel, remind them to close all other open tabs before the presentation. Also suggest they wear headphones to cut down on echoing during the discussion.
Most importantly, have a 15-30 minute practice session before the event so you can troubleshoot any possible technical issues with cameras and microphones.
Keep the program short and concise
We’ve found that a maximum of 5 panelists is really the most you should have in order to make sure everyone has enough time to speak during the program (and that includes the moderator!). Keep your intro short and let the audience know what the running time is and how long the panel will be. Try to keep the discussion to under an hour, especially when screening a movie. Audiences may have already been tuned in for 90 minutes, and may be getting restless by the time the post-film discussion begins.
Engage your audience
Most webinar platforms include a Q&A feature and a chat bar. Make sure you set these both to public. The ability for people to connect with presenters and other audience members is key to creating an inclusive online atmosphere, allowing your attendees to interact and create a much richer experience.
During the presentation, have someone on your team logged into the chat to ask questions, spur discussion, and encourage questions for the panelists. That person can then coordinate with the moderator so they can ask some of those audience questions of the panelists.
One last tip: Make sure you record the panel or interview portion of your event. You can send out to your list of attendees and ask them to share, or even offer it as a pay-per-view tool later.