How to Host a Successful Online Video Event

For book promotion, or when engaging in author promotion of any sort, one of the best ways to keep some buzz around your name is through an online speaking event.

Videoconferencing has grown in leaps and bounds since the old days of awkward, clunky meetings on unreliable, shaky technology. New platforms provide authors and speakers the ability to truly engage instead of just speaking, and this is great, whether your video event allows you to join a small book discussion group or speak at a large virtual conference.

Follow this guide to making your online event a success.

Treat online events with the same seriousness and formality that you would a live, in-person event.

Google+ and Google Authorship

Often overlooked as an off-brand, second-tier social media network, Google+ is definitely something to be considered by authors. If you’re not a part of it, get started by signing up for Google Authorship.

The Google Authorship program does more than any other online tool to help with branding, author promotion, book promotion, etc.

When you are enrolled in the Authorship program, Google starts assessing the online content you create to determine your influence. As your readers become more engaged with your content, and as you develop stronger expertise in your field, Google starts to weight your content as being influential (and, by extension, you!). This can have a significant impact on how optimized your content is for the search engine.

While it only takes a few minutes to set up, it can be the difference between relative online obscurity and starting to gain more visibility.

And because the content and engagement you get on the Google+ network is tracked by Google, it is here, with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media playing a supporting role, that you’ll promote and recruit for your online speaking event.

Google Hangout

Google Hangout is the perfect format for authors or speakers who want to host an online speaking event.

With Google Hangout, your event can become an interactive experience, allowing you to have up to 10 people on the video at once, and many more listening in as you talk.

Instead of droning on, connect with your guests through video, audio and chat. You can even record your hangout and save it to your YouTube channel.

Google Hangout was designed for events like these, but there are some steps that need to be taken to make it a success.

Graphics, Sound and People

Invite or hire a third-party moderator to handle questions, keep time and generally make things run smoothly. Create or obtain art or graphics to interject when it’s time to get started or to accentuate key points throughout the event.

Make sure everyone has headphones to filter out ambient noise, and always make sure all participants understand the mute function. I typically urge anyone who is not currently speaking to mute their line to minimize feedback issues during the video call.

Pre-event: Project Management

The article “Why Online Meetings are the New Norm” discusses steps that need to be taken prior to online meetings. These same principles can be applied to virtual speaking events, as well.

Just as with meetings, poor planning yields poor results. To create or deliver the best possible event you can, spend the time to plan, understand the hidden “gotchas” before you get started, and how to resolve them before they’re an issue.

I always recommend using the same platform you’ll use for the event during the planning phase as well. This allows everyone involved to gain some experience and develop a comfort level with the platform before they’re at the live event. So, if you decide to hold your event using a Google Hangout, invite all of the stakeholders in the event to connect at least once beforehand just so that they can give it a try.

You don’t want to be dealing with a learning curve the day of your event. Even if it’s a small, one-time appearance at a book discussion group, invite the coordinator to take a few minutes to connect with you online ahead of time, so that you both know what it is that you need to do the day of the event. It makes them look great when your appearance at their group goes off without a hitch!

Elements to Consider Beforehand

Invite everyone who is scheduled to speak to show up at least 15 minutes before the event.

If you’re creating your own event, as I have done with The Survivors Summit, consider whether you will be the only speaker.

If you are, how will you be introduced? If there will be other speakers, how will they be introduced? How long will everyone speak and in what order? Will questions be taken from the online audience?

There is a common misconception that online events are somehow less formal than traditional, in-person affairs. They aren’t. They require just as much planning and project management beforehand.

As with real world events, schedules must be created and communicated, registrations must be accepted, and the equipment and software must be tested beforehand.

I highly recommend having all speaking participants check in at least 15 minutes early for a dry run.

You’ll also want to consider how you’re going to get the word out about your event. Google+ and Facebook are both great places to create events that you can then invite your friends to. You can also use Eventbrite to gain even more visibility and handle ticket sales, if needed.

For everyone that RSVPs for your event, you can send them a Google calendar appointment that’s set up as a video call, so that they have a handy link to join the Google Hangout at the right time.

The success or failure of your online event is often determined before the event ever takes place. Plan in advance, take it seriously and treat it with the same formality you would a live speaking engagement.

There are many platforms that offer excellent options for online events, but consider Google+ if your event will include video. It is more than just a way to host a virtual event. It’s a centralized location to showcase your work and make contacts, long after the event is over.

Not only that, but there are tools out there like 22 Social that allow others to broadcast your event live or as a replay to their audiences as well, giving you greater exposure to a wider audience.

So, what are you waiting for? What will your first Google Hangout be? Share in the comments below.


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