Keep the Flow, Feel the Vibe
We think no virtual conference team is complete without a team of capable and energetic meeting hosts. In fact, if our audience members tell us that the one thing that set us apart from other virtual events was our meeting hosts, we would consider that a victory.
Here is our vision for how meeting hosts can set the right tone for the seminars and establish critical rapport with their presenters.
From 30,000 Feet
Our seminars will all be staged by Streamyard, the software that works with Vimeo to create the streaming feed that beams each seminar into our virtual platform. Every keynote, every breakout, every time we go live with anything, we create an event within Streamyard, and as with a Zoom meeting, a unique URL is created for that event.
As the meeting host, you will be provided with that URL, which will take you backstage. Once there, you will work with a broadcast manager to enable your sound and audio, get positioned properly in the frame, and converse about any particular aspects of the seminar. Your manager will take care of all audio and video tasks from this point forward, so presenters can focus on their storytelling and meeting hosts can direct traffic and monitor the Chat.
As mentioned elsewhere in this Help document, one of the most valuable and fleeting qualities in a virtual conference is interaction. We crave it as humans and it is one of the enduring attractions of an in-person conference. But the constraints of the virtual medium place us at an instant deficit with this important commodity.
A capable meeting host can supply that interaction and audiences can and do live vicariously through it. Our research shows (and your latest binge show would attest) that witnessing interaction is almost as satisfying as experiencing it. So the more interaction and rapport the two of you can show, the more receptive audience members will be to the whole experience.
This Help page is prepared in chronological order: these are the tasks that you will be responsible for, in the order in which they occur.
The 10 minutes of backstage time before the seminar is the ideal time to prepare any polls that the presenter wants to conduct. The interface is quite simple and you should be able to prepare them in minutes. From the Chat panel, click on Polls and then Create Poll:
If you prepare a poll ahead of time, you would click Save and Publish Later. If you create a poll in the moment (which we recommend if the occasion arises–audiences love that), click Publish Now. In either case, set the duration of the poll to be short, like 60 seconds.
You might conclude that a poll is warranted after reading comments in the Chat that the presenter is not seeing. You would do this at your own discretion (which we encourage) and you would then suggest it to the presenter by adding yourself to the stream. In a perfect world, we would all have earpieces and could communicate with the backstage manager. Absent that, we do it on stage with as much respect and flexibility as possible.
Introducing the presenter
There will be two different types of introductions for presenters:
- A formal introduction, lasting up to 30 seconds, which will be used the first time that a presenter appears (even if it on Day 3 or Day 4). All presenters have bios in their profiles so hosts have plenty of content to distill into 30 seconds. If presenters want something different or specific, they should compose it and send it to their respective hosts 24 hours in advance.
- A less formal introduction for a presenter’s second and third appearances. These intros should be shorter and friendlier:
Yesterday, Julie Terberg wowed us with her makeovers; today she shows us all how we can find inspiration from everyday occurrences. Julie, welcome back!
Before we begin this talk on fonts, I have to ask you, Nolan — how long did it take you to shoot that promo video? You must have had 100 typeface examples! [Nolan answers.] You realize you have now set an impossibly high bar for this session. No pressure, but it’s all yours…
A good introduction can set the perfect tone for a presentation, which in our view, would be light, friendly, and full of interaction. It also implies collaboration; while Nolan Haims might appreciate the humor of the high bar of expectation, another presenter might view it as stressful. So as always, the more that presenter and host can confer, the higher chance for rapport and good repartee.
To facilitate and encourage that, we have a speaker ready room open to you across all four days of the conference: Visit www.presum20.com/speakers to enter it at anytime. No password or host required.
Reading the room
Once past the introduction, the meeting host can then focus on the Live Discussion panel, which every seminar will utilize. There are three tabs to the panel: Chat, Questions, and Polls. We will acknowledge popular custom and refer to all of it as simply “the Chat.”
Any polls that you create will be queued for you in the Polls tab. We will be encouraging patrons to use Chat for chit-chat and the Questions tab for questions they want the presenter to address. But as host, you can stay in Chat, because anything posted in Questions will also appear in Chat, as you can see here:
In addition to pertinent questions, you are watching for anyone who is having trouble with the interface, is lost, or has some other type of question that should be addressed by our administrative team, not the presenter. You should also be on the lookout for anything inappropriate that gets posted. You can delete posts straight away, using the three-dot menu. For anything that our tech or admin teams should address, email Sheila, our Head of Ops, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be monitoring email at all times.
When meeting hosts appear on camera
There is a simple criterion for when meeting hosts will be seen in the seminar: if they are speaking, they are being seen. Meeting hosts will be shown the simple command to add themselves to the stream, and when they do, they immediately appear on the set. In this regard, they actually have more control over the video environment than do the presenters, whose appearances are controlled by the broadcast manager.
Hosts can choose to disable their cameras, in which case, an empty square will appear on set, much like the Zoom window that represents a participant who has dialed in or does not own a camera. In either case, the implication of this is clear: when a meeting host has something to say, the presenter should take notice. Meeting hosts should place themselves on set when:
- They introduce the speaker (they will start out on set for that)
- They encounter a relevant question, which in their judgment, should be addressed now
- Host and presenter have agreed to stage a discussion
- The presenter calls for questions
- When it is time to wrap up
On this last point, hosts will have help, in the form of soft music that will begin to play, about 90 seconds from the end, and gradually rise in volume.
Our July 27 training session covered many of these points and you can watch the recording of it here.