Part of my quarantine life has been attending virtual events for the organizations I support. Most of these virtual events are run on Zoom, and I’ve seen a bunch of the same mistakes made over and over again. Some organizations just aren’t familiar with Zoom’s capabilities, leading to technical glitches (and a lot of dead air — the bane of every event producer’s existence); other orgs have a better handle on Zoom, but leave gaps open that can be exploited by trolls. A recent virtual event I attended left the chat function unmoderated, allowing a few trolls to spam the chat with obscene messages and rendering the event unwatchable (the chat icon was blinking too fast to pay attention to anything else).

If your organization is planning on running a virtual event on Zoom, it’s important to be aware of the options available to help secure your event and streamline the experience for attendees. 

Below are five commonly-overlooked Zoom features that will help make your next Zoom virtual event even better.

Use the “Webinar” feature in Zoom

Zoom offers a “Webinar” license designed for virtual, public-facing events. This is a separate, paid feature from your standard Zoom Pro or Zoom Business license. Zoom Webinar comes standard with features that are designed to limit attendee interaction; all features that allow for attendee interaction (e.g. Q+A, Chat, etc.) are optional and can be configured by your webinar host. Be sure to use this feature when running a public-facing event; a standard Zoom meeting does not offer the same protections and makes it much easier for trolls to disrupt your event.

Live stream your webinar to Facebook or YouTube Live 

Zoom webinars have built-in support for live streaming to Facebook, YouTube, or a custom streaming platform of your choosing. This is a great way to promote across your organization’s social platforms, and gives access to an audience segment you may not be able to reach using Zoom alone. 

Disable the “attendee to attendee” chat functionality

While the webinar chat feature can be a great way for your audience to interact with one another, the ability to moderate messages in Zoom chat is unfortunately limited. It’s recommended that you disable the ability for attendees to chat with one another during your webinars. You can still allow attendees to send messages to panelists, or use the Q+A functionality to submit questions; other attendees will be unable to see these messages, if configured correctly, which makes it more difficult for trolls to disrupt your event.

Set your “Post attendee URL” landing page to drive attendees to your website

Zoom webinars allow you to configure a “Post attendee URL,” which is a landing page that will automatically open in attendees’ web browsers once they exit the webinar. This is a great opportunity to drive traffic to a survey, petition, or fundraising page for your organization.

Enable the webinar “practice session” feature for panelists

Zoom webinars offer a “practice session” feature that allows the host and panelists to join the webinar before it begins broadcasting to attendees. This is a great opportunity for your host to configure in-webinar options (like disabling chat), and for your panelists to test their audio and video. During this practice session, attendees who join will see a “Waiting for webinar to begin” screen, only joining into the webinar once the host clicks the “Broadcast” button in Zoom. Asking your panelists to join a few minutes prior to start time is a great way to work out technical kinks before starting your webinar.

While the above tips are a great way to immediately improve the quality of your virtual events, Zoom is capable of even more. I recommend looking further into Closed Captioning features to make your webinars accessible to all, webinar attendee registration fees using PayPal, and their new integration with Salesforce Pardot as well as with Every Action to automate lead generation from your attendees.

Knowing the features available will help you tailor your virtual events to your audience, improving attendee experience and endlessly frustrating trolls (and truly, what’s more satisfying than that?).

Want to talk to us about how your organization is utilizing Zoom, or just want to chat? Get in touch. 

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