Rick Szilagyi, Principal

The growth of online meetings and events

The dramatic increase in online meetings and events we have all experienced in recent months, is NOT expected to drop to pre-COVID levels, even once we are past pandemic conditions. One source states that the top providers share the market as follows:

  • Zoom                          36%
  • GoToWebinar           22%
  • Cisco’s Webex          17%
  • All others                   25%

Here at Lexian, using Zoom, we are working with our clients on all aspects of their online efforts, and I thought I’d share some of our observations, experiences, and recommendations. Before I do, here are some interesting stats about Zoom’s recent growth:

  • Zoom usage, December, 2019      10 million daily meeting participants
  • Zoom usage, March, 2020             200 million daily meeting participants
  • Zoom usage, April, 2020                300 million daily meeting participants 

Decisions, decisions, decisions

“Management is decision-making.” If I had to choose only a few words to define, “management”, that would be the phrase. For those of you who agree at least partially, there is no shortage of opportunities and the need for “management” when it comes to producing online events. For example, in “settings” for Zoom Webinar, there are between 4 and 5 DOZEN decisions you can make. You don’t need to evaluate all of the options, however, it is helpful to know what is possible, and how to control outcomes.

  • Meeting vs. Webinar – This is an interesting one

Online platforms would have you think this is a simple decision, based solely on the number of attendees you anticipate.  We agree, at both ends of the spectrum. If you are going to have 8 participants… or if you are going to have 800… the decision is easy. But, what if you plan to have 30, and you want it to be less “formal” than a webinar, and maybe even “conversational”? There are options waiting for your decision-making.

Just a few of the more frequent issues to address

  • Registration? Directly into a platform like Zoom, or first by means of another platform like your website?
  • Recorded, yes or no, and permission from presenters. If yes, local or cloud?
  • Is this a continuing education event, so that attendance needs to be validated, proof needs to be filed, and CEUs need to be distributed? Will a recording be available for CE credit?
  • How many presenters? Who will be introducing the presenters? Who will be instructing the attendees relative to asking questions, etc.?
  • Will the presenter(s) be sharing their screens? Showing slides? Showing videos? With sound? Will they be using polls? (Recommended… polls are great!)
  • Will there be breakout rooms?
  • Will materials be available to attendees? If so, when? How… link or file?
  • Can attendees ask questions? During or at the end? How would you like questions to be raised (raise hand and verbally, Q&A, chat)? By whom… attendees, host, etc.?
  • Will your event have sponsors? What benefits are they receiving? Are they presenting?
  • Who is managing during the live event, and how many people do you need?

And finally some recommended best practices

Online events carry more challenges than face-to-face events. And, the savings from avoiding the cost of a physical venue are partially offset by preparation and time during the event. We utilize and recommend a well-planned process, including:

  • A planning session with the presenter(s) and anyone else taking an active role in the upcoming event. This should be setup as a meeting on the platform you are going to use, like Zoom, and here you discuss tasks and expectations as exposed by questions like those above. This is also an opportunity to expose potential issues, such as presenter bandwidth issues, and develop a plan to overcome them.
  • A practice session, running approximately 30 minutes immediately before the live event, is an opportunity to revisit with everyone, the points that came out of the planning session, and make sure all settings are correct, and the experience is going to be made as easy as possible for the presenters.
  • And finally, meeting or webinar itself. This is “live TV”. The person or persons acting as the technical “hosts”, may very well be busy behind the scenes, throughout the event. They may be launching polls for the presenters, verbalizing questions attendees have for the presenters, and helping attendees who are experiencing access, bandwidth, software version issues, etc. 

Easy, right? Let us know if we can help!