Webinar summary: Tips & tricks for hosting a successful online event

Running an event virtually doesn’t need to be stressful.  With a bit of prep and the right support your online webinar, workshop, birds of a feather session, or meeting can be both engaging and purposeful.

So what are the top tips for running a successful online event? NeSI’s training lead, Megan Guidry, discussed the topic with the NZ training community at a webinar on 19 January 2022.  Some of the tips that came out of the session are recorded below (including a long list of resources recommended by the community). The full webinar can be found on NeSI’s youtube channel.

Tips for the session host:

  • Write a script for the session opening/ closing. Reading works really well online and this will keep your intro short and snappy.

  • Remind people about zoom etiquette, including keeping video on if possible

  • decide on a helper backchannel beforehand

Tips for starting your session well:

  • Set audience expectations early by sharing the agenda (including breaks)

  • Let the audience know if/ when active participation will be required

  • Get people to test the tools that are relevant to your session as part of the session warmup (e.g. zoom chat, google doc)

  • Prepare prompts ahead of time (and a few backup prompts for the more quiet audiences)

  • Do an icebreaker exercise

Tips about tools:

  • Keep number of tools to a minimum

  • If you use breakout rooms it is good practice to have a facilitator in each room 

  • Check out tools to use online under ‘RESOURCES’ below

Tips about recruiting the right helpers:

  • Loop in a Zoom DJ for managing breakout rooms, especially if you are not experienced with using them.

  • Assign a host or co-hosts for sessions that require careful timing, Q&A monitoring, or events that have a lot of moving parts

  • Workshop helpers are necessary for hands-on workshops. If you are running an interactive workshop online you will need about 1 helper for every 5 participants. 

  • Assign a note-taker for your session if you want to write up a summary or blog post for your event

  • If you are using breakout rooms for your online session it is a good idea to have a facilitator in each breakout room who can keep conversation flowing, repeat instructions, or answer Qs.