Virtual Presenters: Connect with Your Audience

lightbulb ideas connecting with other ideas

Hello all of you virtual presenters. Time to brainstorm about how you want to connect your participants to your presentation content and to each other during and after your session!

Planned Interaction for Serendipitous Results

We know that virtual learning experiences are more memorable when you can engage your participants wherever appropriate. Virtual presenters can create stronger connections by making opportunities to discuss, contribute, or collaboratively learn.  Take some time to sketch or note your ideas on what kind of interaction you’d like to design into your virtual presentation to maximize knowledge sharing and meaningful exchange among your participants.

Where do I start?

Polls or questions to your participants are an easy and effective way to foster engagement started at any point but are especially helpful as icebreakers.  The well known Zoom Meeting and Zoom Webinar platforms include polling features for your webinars. You will be able to launch the poll during your webinar and gather the responses from your attendees. Download a report of polling during and after the webinar. and polling platforms have great flexibility in the way questions get asked and answered synchronously during your event.  It’s intriguing to watch these dynamic questions and answers emerge.  Visualize feedback in real time then measure engagement, follow up on feedback, and uncover next steps. PollEverywhere Q&A and Mentimeter both have features that allow your participants to submit their questions to you, too.

Collaborative Whiteboards can help you jot down, organize, and visualize your ideas. With templates, freehand drawing, sticky notes, and other intuitive features, you can easily participate in a variety of creative activities. This virtual canvas lets you and your collaborators navigate to different areas of the board so everyone has enough space to present their ideas.  These tools do a terrific job to bring together virtual audiences. Once the event concludes, share the whiteboard as a meeting asset or a springboard for more collaboration on the topic. Here are a few of the many available online whiteboard tools for you to try on for size: MIRO, Mural, jamboard from Google. Use them to brainstorm, sketch workflows, or mind map.  Whether simple or complex, you can tailor for your use.

Knowledge Sharing

Working on files together gives participants (in breakout sessions or not) a way to capture their discussion findings, co-edit a document, or otherwise capture event highlights.  Use Google Docs, Slides or Sheets for easy ways to bring everyone together for the synchronous or asynchronous activity.  Like collaborative whiteboards, co-edited files become the basis for knowledge captured and shared during and and post virtual event. What starts out as a working draft can grow into a group deliverable or working file.  Use of these Google tools give multiple editors easy ways to work with Google’s familiar user interface.

Take advantage of platform options that are already built in.  Our old friend Zoom Meetings has that very powerful Breakout Rooms feature.  This essential tool gives participants value by encouraging smaller group discussion and this level of participation is still one of my favorite ways to promote knowledge exchange.  In a virtual conference?  Look for options that take advantage of virtual networking in the conference platform. Be sure to do a demo on how these features operate.

Want to Keep the Conversation Going?

For topics that are complex, challenging, and dynamic, consider forming a virtual community network to provide continued conversation and collaboration.

Less is More

This post spotlights a small sampling of participant engagement ideas. However, keep in mind that less is more.  Don’t try to use too many ideas in a single session.  Pick one or two activities to incorporate and practice them ahead of time.  Choose a virtual producer or moderator to work alongside you during the event to keep these activities going while you and your panelists stay focused on content delivery and dialog.  Success with one or two of these options ensures that your participants really do create value that grows beyond the time boundaries of your virtual presentation.