As we roll into another week as quarantined workers and continue the dance of social distancing, Zoom calls have been the No. 1 source for communicating. In a time when everyone is craving human interaction, having the option to see another person on the end of call or webinar—like in Zoom—helps us to feel less alone during a lonely time.
When Connect planned our “Connected Conversations” webinar about post-COVID-19 events, we knew we wanted to have a video webinar. The speakers included five panelists, two moderators and a host, and having visuals—such as a webcam—would make the webinar more impactful and engaging and give a sense of normalcy during this chaotic time. We also learned that another events company hosted a webinar with no video—just audio—and the feedback was not great, citing visuals were needed. Webinar attendees expect video now that a majority of webinars are including it.
But technical difficulties have a way of appearing—especially on the live day of a webinar.
A few minutes before we were to go live, we encountered webcam issues that couldn’t be fixed in time. Being in the meetings industry, we’re all used to pivoting, so the speakers switched from webcam to audio—by calling into the phone line—and we started the webinar.
As the host, I was nervous how the audience would receive the webinar since we weren’t using video like everyone else. But not having video proved to be a success for us.
The webinar platform we use has an open chat box and the comments and discussions happening in it were filling up! Attendees were chiming in left and right with their thoughts and questions about COVID-19, and some attendees even shared links to studies about the coronavirus for other attendees to see. Someone even shared a clip to that entertaining—we’ll call it—interview between Anderson Cooper and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. It was amazing to see the industry come together and share ideas without any video to add to the engagement.
As the panelists and moderators kept the conversation flowing, it almost felt like we were hosting a virtual event—and it was going fantastic! We had a panel of speakers—Terri Woodin, vice president of marketing of global meeting services for Meeting Sites Resource; Mike Ferreira, owner and founder of Meetings Made Easy; Nicole Corley, director of meetings and events for Connect; Martha J. Sheridan, president and CEO of Greater Boston CVB; and Antwone Stigall, CMP, DES, CED head of events for Course Hero— and our two moderators: Stephanie Davis Smith, vice president of content creation for Connect and David Adler, chairman and founder of BizBash.
As we finished the Q&A portion and the webinar was coming to an end, I was astonished by all the positive comments and feedback filling up the chat box: “This was wonderful…thank you all so much!”; “This was GREAT!!”; “Great info and support”; ”Thank you all for putting this together. So nice to be connected and very informative!”; This has been one of the best sessions/webinars that I’ve attended over the last couple of weeks. I would like to continue to engage with this group in whatever way I can. Great job!”
Seeing those comments after having to change our initial plan was refreshing and put a smile on my face. It was comforting to see all the attendees enjoyed the webinar and conversations—sans video— and how everyone was coming together to share ideas. It made me excited to have face-to-face events again so these insightful conversations can continue.
This webinar taught me that of course video to accompany a webinar is great, but sometimes quality conversations is all you need.