Planning your event

Questions to consider as you plan your event

  • What is the purpose or goal of your event?  
  • When will your event occur?
  • How many attendees do you expect?
  • How many speakers will be participating?
  • Do you need to highlight speakers during the event?
  • Do you have an agenda for your event?
  • Will attendees be expected to engage? If so, with whom (e.g., one another, only the speakers)?
  • Will your attendees need to respond to polls?
  • Would breakout sessions be useful to further discussion?

Select your date(s) with care

Ensure you date(s) don’t conflict with other College events by visiting the College’s Calendar of Events and the Academic Calendar. If you have a major event that may need president of the College to be available, email Kathy Kaneps in advance at kanepsk@lafayette.edu.

Determine if you need a Zoom Meeting or Webinar

How you answer some of the questions above can help determine if a Zoom Meeting or Zoom Webinar will better serve you. Basically, if you expect attendees to mostly just listen, a Zoom Webinar is likely the better choice. When you need more back and forth between the audience and the host, a Zoom Meeting might be the better option. Here’s more info to help you decide whether to host your online event as a webinar or a meeting.

Schedule a consultation with ITS

To talk through the features available in Zoom to ensure your virtual event goes as smoothly as possible, please send a message to the Help Desk at help@lafayette.edu.


Preparing for the event

Schedule your virtual event in Zoom

Build your team

Besides the speaker or panelists, it is advisable to have a “supporting cast” of one or more assistants for virtual events. Such a cast might include:

  • The host to establish and configure the meeting while also assigning other team members roles
  • Co-hosts to backup the host to manage controls as well as to attend to attendees who might have questions
  • Breakout room moderators are helpful when using breakout rooms to facilitate discussion
  • Speakers and panelists can be assured of few distractions by building a support team of hosts and co-hosts
  • Remind the team to check for Zoom updates on their desktop and mobile apps.

Invite your audience

Registration

Sometimes you might want to know exactly who is attending your virtual event. You might also want to limit the distribution of the link to the virtual event to only those who register. ITS created a Google Form registration form template, which can be edited so you can customize the form to your liking. Learn how to use this Google Form template by expanding the “Creating a registration form” section on Hosting a Zoom Webinar.

Advertising

If the event is open to the public and/or the Lafayette community, register your event with the College Event Calendar and submit it for distribution in Lafayette Today. You might also consider posting your event details along with the URL to the Zoom Meeting or Webinar on your department or program’s website. Remind attendees to check for Zoom updates on their desktop and mobile apps.

Schedule a practice session

Holding a practice session with your team of hosts, co-hosts, and speakers and panelists can ensure the virtual event goes off without a hitch. Some things to consider during a practice session:

  • Invite your team to a practice session including some friends to join as attendees.
  • Let your speakers and panelists know your expectations of them.
  • Practice assigning speakers or panelists as co-hosts.
  • If using a waiting room, practice sending attendees in the waiting room a message. It’s helpful to let those in a waiting room know that the meeting is about to begin and that they’ll be let in shortly.
  • To ensure speakers are seen when speaking, Zoom has a Spotlight feature that a host or co-host can use to feature up to 9 speakers at once.
  • Breakout rooms, if used, can be configured to place attendees in designated breakout rooms or allow them to select the breakout room of their choice.
  • Treat the practice session as a time to dry-run through all of the various functions of your event (e.g., ensure screen sharing is turned off for attendees, responding to messages in chat, etc.).

Receive feedback

You may want to consider receiving feedback from your attendees after your event. You could consider using a Zoom Meeting Poll or a Zoom Webinar Poll at the end of your event, or send them a link to a Qualtrics or Google Form survey.


Managing Your Event

Just as with an in-person event, a little preparation goes a long way.

Prior to the virtual event

  • Send your event team an agenda and any briefings well in advance.
  • In advance of the meeting, the team (e.g., host, co-host, speakers, panelists) should join the meeting to confirm settings, ensure lighting is good, and to ask any last-minute questions.
  • If your Zoom Meeting is to set mute participants upon entry, disable screen sharing or video, don’t forget to remove these restrictions for presenters.
  • If you are hosting a Zoom Webinar, enable the practice session so speakers and panelists have some time to get comfortable before the webinar goes live.
  • Minimize background noise
  • Dress to impress
  • Consider displaying a welcome slide to be posted for attendees while everyone is joining and getting settled. You can also share music with attendees by using the “Share computer sound” option when sharing your screen.

During the virtual event

  • Start on time
  • Set proper expectations for attendees (e.g., keep mics muted) so they know how they should engage with the host, speakers, and panelists.
  • Ensure the host and co-hosts are monitoring the chat for questions that might be coming.
  • If hosting a Zoom Webinar and using the “follow host view” mode in the participant tab, consider joining the event from a second device with your audio muted. This way you can view the event how an attendee will view it.
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