The following is an Op-Ed published by Rickard Hansson, Founder & CEO of Weavy – the complete white-label framework for in-app messaging and collaboration. Rickard is a serial entrepreneur and has acted global thought-leader on virtual team communications for more than two decades.

This Op-Ed is a part of Future Talent Council’s work to initiate the formation of a Global Advisory Board on Remote Work. If you have an interest in global research on tactics, data sets, and case studies on remote work developments, contact us at info (at) futuretalentcouncil dot org.

 

The world has changed, and we as business leaders have had to follow suit and adapt. The most tangible change has been the shift to remote work. The appetite for in-person meetings, presentations, and events is not there anymore, and I’m not sure it will be ever again.

This is why virtual meetings, presentations, and collaborative sessions — which provide the benefits of less travel, less stress on a city for a specific big event, and lower costs for everyone — will become more essential going forward. For large arena events, as well as for your team’s next brainstorming session.

Rickard Hansson

At our company, Weavy, we shifted rapidly to remote work for our whole team both in the U.S. and Europe, but we also shifted our focus regarding marketing and sales. We both sponsor and participate in relevant online events and are now ramping up our own production with webinars, hackathons, and online sales meetings, and all kinds of presentations and work sessions.

Around the world, large and small corporations have lived through the same evolution over the past couple of months, educational institutions have conducted 10 years’ worth of digital transformation in weeks and many of us believe there will be a “pre and post COVID-19” element to how we perceive our life at work.

I have summarized our learnings into 12 commandments for hosting a quality virtual meeting and wanted to share them:

    • Keep it short. Never do a virtual session that’s an hour long. In fact, keep it to a 10-minute bracket and rather edit into segments, or breakouts, or invite dialogue and interaction in between segments. If you can’t deliver your message short, your content is either wrong or wrongfully distributed.
    • Captivate your audience first. We don’t log into a virtual session because we are interested in who the presenter is (unless you’re a guru of sorts). Don’t start with a personal presentation — it’s just not interesting. Start with a captivating question that is left unanswered until the very end of the session. Emotional drive and curiosity should be at the center. This question is your red line, cliffhanger, or hasta la vista. That is the sole reason your audience – and that is how you should think of the participants even if they’re just your old team, now they are an audience – should listen in. Thet should have to know the ending.

“Show a lot of text, and people will try to read it all, which means they’ll  listen less”

    • Have a short, clear plan. The beautiful thing about a virtual meeting or session is that it has an unlimited number of audience members. The ugly thing is that you have no control over if the audience is attentive. So make sure you get control. Give a concise but direct agenda (e.g., “Today, we will talk about how to do X and what happens if we do Y, and we’re going to do in 10 minutes”).
    • Introduce yourself. Give a warm welcome and a short introduction. Refer your audience to your LinkedIn profile. Add something fun. If people already know you, start off with a personal anecdote, or a story that will trickle their brains.
    • Direct the audience’s attention. The presentation is essential. Remember, no one can see you as if you were giving an on-stage performance. Add pointers, underlines, or anything in your introduction that emphasizes the key points you want to make. Use functions like fading screen and studio view in and out for the same effect.

“It’s essential that the design is representative of your message”

  • Remember that text is unnecessary. If I want to read text, I buy a book. If I want to get information about a product, I usually watch videos or reviews. Get it? Text is evil! Show a lot of text, and people will try to read it all and listen less. Remember, your audience can read five times faster than you can talk. Use as little writing as possible, and focus on the spoken word. Use text to emphasize and strengthen your message.
  • Design the look. The design of the meeting experience is more important than you think. It’s essential that the design is representative of your message, from your slides to the waiting room prior to being logged in. Always make an interactive design that can be used for offline viewing. Test the design in good time before any webinar to make sure all graphics run smoothly.
  • Create a script. Since no one is looking at you all the time, there’s no need to memorize all the webinar contents. Create (and use) a script that is a timeline over the webinar, but don’t overdo it — leave room for spontaneity.
  • Don’t get stuck. Slides or video chapters, no matter which one you choose, help prevent you from getting stuck. Pace the segments of your webinar or video demo in sprints of a maximum of 15-20 seconds. The important thing is having a smooth, well-paced tempo. If the audience misses anything, they can always rewind later.
  • Use graphics and animations. Use tools to enhance the experience. These will raise interest (e.g., statistics presented during the flow and lap over effects), but remember to keep it simple.
  • Deliver the kill. The most critical section of the session or presentation is the wrap-up and the kill shot. Conclude with the key knowledge shared with the audience and their next step after the meeting. The call to action is supreme here. Make sure it happens and is on point!
  • Take questions and give handouts. Questions should come last and in a standard free-form. Give the audience a handout (e.g., a link to the recording or demo, or more information, an executive summary).

 

Virtual sessions will become increasingly important for all businesses. They will transition from people just logging on to talk, or signing up to watch video recordings later – to actually see active and enthisiastic participation, dialogue and interaction. Your firms’ capabilitites in running virtual working worlds will be a competitive advantage, not only because in-person meetings are currently not a viable option, but because a virtual alternative is actually better (all things considered) in 99% of use-cases.

 

This was an Op-Ed published by Rickard Hansson, Founder & CEO of Weavy – the complete white-label framework for in-app messaging and collaboration. Rickard is a serial entrepreneur and has acted global thought-leader on virtual team communications for more than two decades.

This Op-Ed is a part of Future Talent Council’s work to initiate the formation of a Global Advisory Board on Remote Work. If you have an interest in global research on tactics, data sets, and case studies on remote work developments, contact us at info (at) futuretalentcouncil dot org.

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