We’ve learned a lot since the start of the pandemic. One thing I learned is that we can do virtually anything and almost everything virtually. From grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments to classes and meetings, we can do it all from the comfort of our homes, without ever having to put on shoes…or even pants.
Even though it’s mostly business as usual, you might find it difficult to fill your schedule over the summer since many skip town and some community events are still canceled due to the pandemic. Since it’s important to remain active in your community and top of mind with patients, it’s the perfect time to host a virtual outreach event.
Hosting events virtually allows you to educate your community about the importance of hearing health without the cost and time commitment of commuting and booth setup. They’re safer and more convenient for your patients, considering some might have mobility issues and/or some might not be comfortable gathering in large groups, yet.
Demonstrate what the latest hearing aid technology has to offer during a virtual Lunch & Learn, educate local seniors about the comorbidities linked to untreated hearing loss with a virtual seminar, or show patients how to effectively clean and care for their hearing aids with a live, “how-to” and Q&A session. If you’ve already conducted telehealth appointments or created videos for your website and social media, then you’ve already had good practice for any type of virtual event.
Once you’ve planned out the type of event you want to do, focus on getting the word out. The best way to do that is to promote it across all of your marketing channels—social media, email, direct mail, etc. To boost attendance, consider having a call center make outbound phone calls to invite patients. Post flyers in your office and distribute them around town (starting with the offices of your referring physicians and any assisted living/retirement communities you have connections with). Pen a related blog post and highlight the event details at the bottom and be sure to mention it in your newsletter.
Finally, here are some tips to help ensure your event runs smoothly and successfully:
1. Do a test run and equipment check.
Make sure you’re comfortable with and fully understand the features of the video chat software or program you intend to use. It’s never a bad idea to do a test run in advance. Also, check that any piece of equipment you might need is working properly to avoid encountering technical difficulties. Oh, and of course, this is all moot if you don’t have excellent, high-speed internet.
2. Choose the best environment.
Remember that you’re likely presenting to a group of people who may have difficulty seeing and hearing. Thus, you want to conduct your event in a well-lit space where there will be absolutely no background noise or distractions. Ask if everyone can see and hear you clearly before you begin and if using an external microphone, make sure it’s positioned close to your face. To prevent attendees from creating any distractions, it’s best to mute the audience then unmute them only when they have questions.
3. Smile, you’re on camera!
Even though you might not need to wear shoes, you should still dress appropriately and conduct yourself with the same level of professionalism that you would if the event were in person. It’s equally important that you come across as energetic and excited. If you or a fellow presenter need notes, limit them to talking points—do NOT read from a script. Also, keep these notes on the screen and not beside you so that you’re never looking down and away from the audience.
4. Engage your audience.
One of the biggest drawbacks of virtual meetings is that there are so many more things competing for the audience’s attention. To maximize engagement, it’s best to ask participants to keep their cameras on during the presentation so that you can see their beautiful faces and reactions (no one likes talking to a computer screen). In addition, periodically ask questions and/or poll the audience.
5. Control the conversation.
Unfortunately, despite all your best efforts, there still may be times when you’re left with crickets. Give your audience a little more time to respond to questions than normal (awkward silence has a way of prying people out of their shells). If that doesn’t do it, either rephrase the question, ask a particular person you know is willing to answer, or answer it yourself but have another one on hand to ask in a few minutes. As a last resort, consider planting a staff member in the audience who can ask a question to kick off the Q&A portion.
6. Be nimble.
Anything is possible live—just ask any local news reporter who has gone viral. Should something go wrong (you forget to unmute yourself before speaking, someone walks into the room, your computer freezes, etc.), quickly acknowledge it, apologize, show humility by making light of the situation, then move on.
7. Always follow-up!
You gave attendees a lot of information to digest. So, send them an email, or, even better, call them and send an email a day after the event to thank them, ask if they have any questions, and help them schedule an appointment.
If you have any questions about how to organize and/or promote your virtual event, reach out to your CQ Account Manager or Marketing Account Executive. We’d be happy to set up a virtual meeting to help you with your virtual event. As a full-service marketing agency with over 25 years of experience in the industry, you bet we can do virtually anything and everything virtually.