# Effective Virtual Events
Virtual events are different from in-person events and that isn't a bad thing. Both have lots to offer and different ways of doing things. The tips below are intended to help you get the most out of a virtual or hybrid event.
**N.B. PIMS reserves the right to restrict participation in online or in-person events.**
* **Set expectations**: Get in touch with your speakers early to discuss the tools and options available. For large events, do some testing and rehersal with your speakers. In addition to catching technical problems, this lets your speakers focus on the important parts when the time comes, their talk!
* **Provide Housekeeping**: At the beginning of your sessions set expectations around what tools you're going to be using. Should participants mute themselves? Should they ask questions as soon as they have them or wait until the end of the presentation? Are there documents or files that need to be shared?
* In the "meeting" format we've found that encouraging people to contribute questions in the chat allows the moderator to sort thorough them without distracting the speaker (this can also now be done with the "raised hand" feature). The "webinar" format has a more fully feature Q&A facility which is a bit slicker which allows people to vote on important questions.
* **Encourage people to participate**: When possible ask people to share their video. This helps keep everyone engaged and also helps the speaker know how things are going.
* **Pay attention to power dynamics**: Anti-oppression, equity, and inclusion practices matter! Have a culture of calling-out or calling-in conflicts and or microaggressions.
* **Inlcude time for interaction**: Set aside a little time for interactive chat.
* Before the main event begins allow 5 minutes or so for people to gather, say hello and chat about the upcoming event. Beyond socializing, this helps avoid people arriving late.
* During the event encourage your speakers to take regular breaks to check in with the audience. This helps keep people engaged and avoids minor technical problems from becoming disruptive.
* **Use the chat**: Most systems include a chat feature of some kind. This can be a great back channel during events, participants can ask questions, raise their hand, etc. Also, not all of your particpants might be able to turn on their audio or video. It can also be useful to agree on a back-channel with your speakers, this could be anything which doesn't rely on the same service (e.g. email, cellphone, IM) and lets you reach out in case there is a problem with the system you're using.
* **Share hosting duties**: Most systems will allow you to promote another participant to be a host. Someone who already knows the system can help run things while you are busy.
* **Let everyone know you will be recording the session and *record the session***: You can edit it or delete it later, but you can't do anything if you don't record it!
* **Share the event**: One of the advantages of remote events is that you can reach a wider audience. PIMS can help you advertise your event widely and make sure it is easy to join. One caveat here is you don't want the wrong audience to join...
* **Secure the event**: The unfortunate reality of sharing easy to join meetings is that you might end up with univited guests. This is particularly important for large events, but fortunately most systems have features in place to help you minimize this problem
* Some systems include features for moderators to silence or expel uninvited participants, if your event will have a wide audience, make sure you know how to use these features
* [Meeting passwords](https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360033559832-Meeting-and-Webinar-Passwords-) can often be used and distributed to restrict access ahead of the meeting
* Certain features (e.g. Screen Sharing) can be restricted or require the host's permission to use. You can also generally disable another participant's video or audio.
* Some systems have a [waiting room feature](https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115000332726-Waiting-Room) which allows the host can grant people access
* You can lock meetings once everyone has joined. If you do have a problem this is the most effective solution: lock the meeting and remove anyone who is causing a problem, they shouldn't be able to rejoin.
* For large meetings (~100+), you might need to work with some of the advanced settings. When scheduling an event, most systems will let you set defaults for people joining. Most of these settings can be overridden by the host once the meeting starts
* Mute users on entry? - Should everyone default to being muted? Some systems have a "raise your hand to speak" function which can help.
* Disable video on entry? - Do you need to save bandwidth?
* If you hit a technical glitch, decide based on the situation whether it's better to stop and try to fix it or continue with a workaround. Often it can be more disruptive to stop everything to solve something completely than it is to proceed with a minor niggle.
* **Try out the tools**: Talk with the organizers and try out the tools you will be using. Is your Internet speed [sufficient](https://www.speedtest.net/) for presenting via video? When the time comes, you'll want to focus on your talk and not the technology.
* **Check in frequently**: Stop periodically and ask if your audience has any questions. Sometimes people need a few extra seconds to unmute a microphone or catch your attention when they are remote.
* **But not too frequently**: In some cases "Let me know if you can't read the slides" is less disruptive than asking "Can you see this graph?" each time, then waiting in for someone to find zoom, unmute only to yell "yes" before you continue.
* **Watch you participants**: Often you can see a question coming before someone speaks and you can help them interact. If you don't find it too distracting, you can try keeping the chat or comments sections open for feedback as well.
* **Close programs you're not using**: Still have Spotify open? Did you really mean to share those iMessage notifications with everyone? Can't find the tab you need? Close any open programs you won't need during your talk
* **Think of how it looks**: If possible, present from a room where you won't be interrupted. Make sure the space looks organized and professional to eliminate background distractions. This lets the audience focus on you and your talk.
* Make sure your face is well lit.
* Position the camera so that your face fills most of the screen.
* Adjust the camera so that your eyes are around 1/3 of the way to the top of the video.
* The tips you learned for in-person talks still count. Make frequent eye contact, looking at your camera helps your audience to feel connected and engaged with your talk. Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the audience and that your appearance is professional.
* When possible, share your video. This helps to connect with the speaker and the other participants so they know you are engaged. Just be sure to mute your mic if you are not speaking. If you can't focus on a meeting for one reason or another it might be better to step off temporarily.
* Read and follow the instructions from the organizers or session chairs so you know how to interact with questions or comments without disrupting the meeting.
* Test your video and audio before joining. Many systems will have more than one audio or video source, make sure you know what the right one is called and how to switch them.
* Try hard to interact. Every little bit of interaction can help improve the experience and make people feel included.
## Useful Links
* [Make content accessible](https://www.washington.edu/doit/20-tips-teaching-accessible-online-course) - this guide has good tips for presenters on how to make your courses/presentations more accessible and engaging.
* [ACM's best practices for online events](https://people.clarkson.edu/~jmatthew/acm/VirtualConferences_GuideToBestPractices_CURRENT.pdf)
* [Some useful tools](https://wp.nyu.edu/shanghai-online_teaching/our-recommendations/)
* [SpeedTest.net](https://www.speedtest.net/) - check your network speed, faster is better obviously. If you have a slower connection you might need to consider disabling video, but please experiment and do this as a last resort.
* [Zoom's recommendations on speed](https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362023-System-Requirements-for-PC-Mac-and-Linux)
* [Zoom Security Recommendations (UBC)](https://it.ubc.ca/services/teaching-learning-tools/zoom-video-conferencing/zoom-privacy-and-security-settings)
* [NYTimes tips (paywalled)](https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/25/technology/personaltech/online-video-meetings-etiquette-virus.html)
* [Zoom Meeting Controls](https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115005759423-Managing-participants-in-a-meeting)
* [Tips on Better Video Chat (youtube)](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ozNQI8hjkU)
* [Live streaming lecture tips](https://www.wild-inter.net/posts/youtube-livestream-lectures)
* [Compute Canada Zoom Tips](https://vimeo.com/415293051/0ee9c3cea3)