Three tips to help you host engaging virtual programs
During the past few weeks, the federal government has transitioned more employees to telework. These workers are now conducting traditional business with the help of technology that is both innovative and unfamiliar. Many agencies may find themselves offering and hosting their programs and events virtually for the first time. The Partnership has significant experience leading virtual programs, so we’re sharing three tips to help you better virtually connect with your audiences.
Tip #1: Engage with your audience
As you prepare to host webinars and other virtual programs, put yourself in the shoes of your audience members and think about how you can enhance your participants’ experience and engagement. Consider creating a poll so your audience can instantly share opinions, ask open-ended questions that allow the audience to thoughtfully respond, and form breakout discussions and group participants together. You can also consider directly calling on people to share their thoughts, but first be sure that they are comfortable doing so.
Remember that virtual programs are most effective when they are framed as conversations rather than lectures. Both you and your audience will benefit more from the session by learning and collaborating with one another through an open dialogue.
Tip #2: Understand the tools at your disposal
There are a number of programs that can help you create engaging, interactive experiences with your audiences. Programs like Google Hangouts, WebEx and Adobe Connect each have different features, and you should learn about each to understand their capabilities and limitations. Whichever virtual platform you’re using, explore everything it has to offer.
If you need help, consider working with an expert like your group’s IT specialist. Communicate early and often with them and keep a log of ongoing questions to ask as you test out and customize your tools.
These tools can create innovative and exciting content for your participants, so be sure to use them for all they can do and your audience will already be looking forward to your next virtual program.
Tip #3: Communicate, communicate, communicate
The more technology you use, the more technical difficulties become inevitable, so be sure to communicate the problem and engage your audience by letting them know the steps you are taking to fix it. Being transparent with your audience:
- Allows you to get instant feedback from your audience as you try to understand the problem.
- Gives you time and space to resolve your issue.
- Keeps your participants calm and empathetic to your situation.
Finally, when you’ve fixed your technical issue, be sure to thank your participants for their patience and understanding before getting back to your content.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your virtual programs will be just as successful and engaging as your in-person programs. For more resources on how to conduct business while remote, read our blog posts on tips for teleworking and resources for managing remote teams.
This post is co-authored with Dozie Nwaneri, a former Partnership staff member on the Government Effectiveness team.