Savvy corporate leaders who communicate with remote team members know that live video is much more engaging and interactive than audio conferencing.

While  working from home, leaders must find a substitute for in-person town halls and all hands meetings. Leaders need a large format to share their vision and strategy, address urgent issues and celebrate wins.

The solution? Live video.

We have seen a wide range in how well companies adapt to this new normal. Some use quality live video events and have workers join and interact in real time. The most traditional of organizations still use large scale audio conference calls to communicate with their employees.

Most organizations are somewhere in-between. They’re using live video and they’d like to use more, but they aren’t prepared. They haven’t trained for this situation. They don’t know how to engage their virtual audience. They don’t have the technology in place to deliver their messages to every device and in every location.

We are in the middle of a crisis. Now is not the time to figure out new technology.

That much new territory can be overwhelming. But there are three key areas that you can control, right now, that will make or break the effectiveness of your large virtual meetings.

Presenters and Presentation

Presenters should prepare and practice their talk track so that it sounds natural and polished, not forced. Leverage the same presentation techniques that keep in-person audiences engaged, like planned pauses, vocal emphasis and physical gestures. Use images, audio and video clips to complement and illustrate the ideas.

This sounds like a lot of work — and it is. While you might be tempted to do voice narration over slide-share images, our experience shows that approach feels less personal and will promote less engagement.

When presenters take the time to prepare, we’ve seen that live content encourages audience interaction, which ultimately results in a greater buy-in of your message. Live video meetings can integrate tools to poll the audience and have an interactive Q&A – this data will help you plan content for the next meeting.

Identify how to reach the most employees

Your live video should be accessible for a range of screen types and screen sizes. Consider as many platforms as possible: desktops, mobile screens, conference room screens, and digital sign boards in common areas or break rooms.

An on-demand recording of the presentation should be made available to people who cannot watch the live event. You may want to also offer audio transcripts.

Choose the right people and the right technology

Putting together a high quality virtual town hall requires a mix of talent, skill set and technology. Simple events may need only an on-camera leader delivering content. Longer events with multiple presenters or more segments require a moderator to balance contributions, manage time, and ensure that questions and feedback are acknowledged. Off-camera teams can also seed questions, solve off-screen technical problems and provide audience service to ensure the event runs smoothly.

On the technology side, there are two options companies use most often to capture and deliver video for meetings.

  1. Using meeting software that allows participants to join and watch a live-streamed presentation. WebEx, Zoom or Microsoft Teams fall into this category. 
  2. Skipping the “live event” and editing together a video to release on your intranet or even to public spaces like YouTube and Vimeo channels. These can still incorporate Q&A and direct face time with leaders, and the message can be perfected and released at scheduled times. 

The best solution might be the simplest. Many enterprise video platforms will have live video add-ons, therefore if you already work with a unified communications vendor or service provider, they might have options to help you communicate at scale. 

Your meeting’s success depends on your preparation. Working with professional AV teams for advanced webcasting provides the confidence and security for a successful event. However, if that isn’t an option, make your team into a temporary production team. Have someone “own” the meeting. Have another control and make the slide presentation, and another solely work the audio. You would be amazed how useful it is to have someone who’s entire job is to manage who is “muted” in your WebEx. Spread the work around…that’s how the pros do it.