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In today’s modern workplace, organizations and businesses alike have started adopting virtual meetings, especially with the safety threat of the ongoing health crisis. The need for advanced facilitating skills has been more important than ever to keep employees engaged. There are a couple of challenges that leaders may face when running a virtual program which could result in a loss of interest or productivity. This includes technical difficulties, disengagement, and intermittent internet connectivity, among others.

Regardless of the aforementioned possibilities, conducting virtual seminars still has many benefits to improving overall employee experience. This allows employees to have easy access to relevant and even exclusive sessions without any associated costs which are usually applied to in-person meetings. Moreover, you can have peace of mind that your employees are up-to-date on critical skills that could contribute to a much smoother workflow. Such opportunities can be maximized when the assigned team prepares well in advance to ensure peak employee engagement. It is crucial to be able to employ the right techniques, so you will know that the audiences are actually present and not merely listening to the training materials. The big challenge is really retaining them. Here are some strategies to help you conduct engaging virtual seminars for your employees.

Set expectations and build interest. You should make them wonder what the session has to offer by coming up with some teasers before setting a clear agenda. It goes without saying that you must have a solid outline ready of your seminar material and distribute it via calendar invite. If you want them to send you any questions in advance, they may certainly do so which would save you time during the seminar. It would be advisable to also get in touch with them from time to time and steer a conversation about the session to subtly hype it up. 

There are many platforms where you can put up pre-read materials such as company group chats, emails, newsletters, and even on social media. You can also meet with the managers beforehand to explain why the virtual seminar matters and how it is going to be presented. Once covering the said bases, you can consider co-creating the virtual seminar norms and rules with the rest of the team. This is to ensure that it will be done in an orderly manner. 

Procure reliable technology. This is perhaps the most important consideration when spearheading a virtual seminar. You cannot expect your employees to fully absorb what’s being presented to them if they keep cutting off. Therefore, investing in a versatile virtual platform and useful gadgets is definitely a good choice. This is more cost-effective than settling with unstable technology that could waste your time and energy. Just imagine using a poor-performing headset; all your efforts would have been in vain if your audience did not hear half of your presentation. 

Though, let us zoom into deciding a good virtual platform that would best fit your company’s needs. You should consider the number of audiences who will often use the platform, its facility to allow raising questions, sharing screens, showing live demos and pre-recorded content, and if it has good reviews. Researching is a must before buying anything. Do software trial as needed and make an informed decision by comprehensively comparing their performance.

Select enthusiastic facilitators. They will basically carry the whole seminar’s atmosphere. As a manager, you should know who among your team members can do the job well. Remember that they can make or break the seminar. Apart from being able to articulate clear instructions, they should also get to demand attention and hold participants captivated that they are encouraged to participate. A good facilitator can boost employee experience, skillfully steering the seminar in the right direction at a proper pace. 

If you’re not sure who to choose among your colleagues, you still have the option to outsource. You can take a look at pre-recorded webinars of potential facilitators and gauge their level of competence. Whoever they may be, they shouldn’t forget to run virtual icebreakers to help participants relax and bask in a positive group atmosphere without any unnecessary pressures. Moreover, they can take this chance to build trust and encourage interaction between the participants in the platform. 

Only send out relevant content. A boring and more so inapplicable content can certainly make participants ask themselves why they attended in the first place. Make sure that you only share useful online content from the moment you send out pre-read materials until the day of the seminar itself. Take time to also check every presenter’s deck just to confirm they aren’t the bland type that can put people to sleep. As you brief your presenters and facilitators, remind them to talk with the participants and come up with simulations instead of pure lectures. These could promote collaborative learning and some fun that they surely deserve. Aside from quality content, the look and feel of both presentations and activities matter a lot as to whether your seminar will turn out to be successful.

Ask for feedback. At the end of the day, your participants have the biggest say about how your virtual seminar turned out. You should always strive to make your next webinars as engaging or better than the last which can be done upon knowing certain points of improvement. Once the event is finished, you can redirect the employees to an online survey for them to give their assessment. Plot out relevant questions and metrics that will serve as their guide. Proceed to analyzing the results and improve as necessary.

Planning for a virtual seminar requires much attention to details and systems to be used. These are only some of the guidelines that can help you achieve the event you envision for your company. Take time to think through your training goals and collaborate with your colleagues. Your employee-participants will definitely appreciate all your efforts once you’ve successfully run the virtual seminar that could be of help to their respective personal or professional journeys.