Hosting Events Online
Some types of in-person events can work just as well virtually- if not better in some cases- especially when stuck in isolation. Not only are you able to salvage your event in the face of external measures, there are direct benefits to your new online format. Providing a quality experience is possible in any format. Open up your event to more people making it very accessible and low risk.
Online Event Housekeeping
UMSU respectfully acknowledges the True Owners of the lands on which we operate. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Nations Australians. We acknowledge this land was never ceded. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.
It may seem obvious, but we often forget to introduce ourselves. Saying who you are and who you're working with (e.g. another committee member, a fellow colleagues, contractors like an artist or yoga instructor) makes the space much more welcoming. If your event is small, you could even ask each attendee to introduce themselves. Icebreakers can be lame, but they make your virtual room a friendlier space.
🧐So, you've got a bunch of stuff to say at your event but you don't know 👉how to say it 👈
Talk at the beginning, right after you introduce yourself and the event.
A Slide 📊
A simple approach is to have a slide at the beginning of your presentation with pictures of the items in question: a phone, fire, food, etc.
You can then use these as prompts to remind you what items to cover. Another quick way is to put text messages on the slide and just say 'please read this' then waiting in silence for a few moments.
Some tips 👀
– Housekeeping is a dry subject and you can enliven it a little with a little humour
– Sometimes you do not need to make all announcements at the same time. Break them up and do them after breaks, lunch, etc.
It's a good idea to remind participants to speak slowly and wait for others to finish before jumping in. You could also ask participants to use icons like the 'raised hand' (found on most online event platforms), when they wish to speak, or to post in the chat that they want to ask a question. Once an attendee asks something, post it into the chat so that anyone who didn't hear it can still answer it.
Whilst it is fun to share a quick comment without having to interrupt the speaker, the chat can be challenging to follow at times. To help with this you could organise to have a moderator for the chat — if possible, someone who isn’t hosting the event. They can also respond to any problematic behaviour.
If you're recording an event where an attendee's image or voice could be captured, you need to let them know they are being recorded before you start the recording. If the recording will be online at a later date, you may also want to give information about this too.
Sometimes it's appropriate to ask people not to record, or photograph your session — for instance, when your are presenting confidential or copyright material. It could also be good to ask this of attendees generally, to make others feel comfortable at your event (however, as cameras and recorders built into phones, we know this can be difficult to police).
It's good to let people know how long a session will take, and (if necessary) when breaks are scheduled. If you have an agenda of activities or your event is longer than an hour, breaks are recommended. Make sure you have time for food breaks and comfort breaks (this is also an important accessibility consideration as some people need these breaks to feel mentally and physically well).
Tell people your schedule and before you take a break let them know when you will resume. There are different way to handle the dilemma of people not arriving or returning on time— one view is to assume all attendees take responsibility for their own actions and so you start on time. Sometimes you do need everyone to understand the content, so waiting might be appropriate. It can also help to politely (and privately, if possible) remind people of their obligation to others.
You may want to ask people to turn their phones to 'silent' or even ask them to turn them off — phones that vibrate can still distract listeners.
Keep in mind that the strength of internet connections vary across Australia, especially for students who live in regional or rural Areas. If connection is a problem, encourage people who don't need to turn on their camera during the event to turn it off to support other's bandwidth. Make sure to test your connection prior to the event.
Tell your attendees how to get in touch with you during your event. For example, you could supply your department email account, or tell them to get in touch via a direct message on the platform you are using, to give feedback about the event.
It's always a good idea to share your social media handles too, so people can stay in touch with you. You could also include your webpage, any hashtags your department uses, and links to your enews.
Online Safety and Accessibility
Let attendees know that if they feel unsafe, unprotected or upset by something during the online event, to bring it to the attention of the event host. The event host will be able to remove the person from the meeting immediately, rather than letting the situation escalate.
If you experience racial or religious vilification you can make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission on 1300 292 153.
If you are being vilified and are in immediate danger, please contact Victoria Police on 000.
You can also contact the University free counselling service Monday to Friday 9am–5pm on 8344 6927 for emotional support.
At the beginning of an event, encourage people to reach out if they are feeling unwell. They can do this through messaging the host directly via the chat function or speaking up.
Make sure you read our page
on emergency procedures for online events.
At the beginning of meetings, allow participants to introduce themselves with their preferred pronouns. Not everyone in your audience may be ‘out’ or comfortable with how they identify. Digital events are a great way to connect with young people who might not have the confidence or ability to attend a located LGBTQIA+ event but be auctions as some of them may not be ‘out’ to their families, and could be attending your digital event in private in their homes.
If you don't want your online event to be searchable, consider making it private. You can even make the event invite only or password protected to add an additional layer of privacy or to be able to track attendance/logins.
UMSU provides support, advocacy and opportunities for creative and social pursuits for all students enrolled at the University of Melbourne. UMSU is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive community, demonstrated through a policy framework, and creating an environment that promotes inclusivity, thoughtfulness and safety.
Make the event accessible
with captions, transcripts, subtitles, described video and more.
Participants who are calling in or have bad internet connections may be unable to see the screen. People who are blind or have low vision also may not be able to see the screen, and cannot read the screen-share contents using assistive technology.
Ensure that someone reads all slides or other text materials aloud. If you’re describing everything so they can follow along on the phone, then everyone will be following along too! Alternatively, if you’re sharing a screen showing web-based content, share the link so that screen reader users can navigate to and access the content. If possible, provide accessible copies—document files, PDFs—ahead of time so that participants can use their screen or document reading technology to read the documents.
Sound quality is important for all users and critical for people who are hard of hearing. Background noise is particularly difficult for meeting participants who are using assistive listening devices. Assistive devices don't know if someone is speaking or just banging the desk accidentally. Both sounds will be amplified. To minimise background noise remind meeting participants to mute their audio when it's not in use, have one person speaking at a time, if using the computer microphone, turn off reminders or close applications that will send reminders and put your mobile phone on silent.
Test your video and audio before your event: You’ll be able to fix any issues before they impact your guest experience.
Some attendees may not want to turn on their video in a meeting for a variety of reasons. These reasons can include medical privacy concerns, concerns about the ways in which the use of video may reveal or highlight disabilities, the anxiety or distraction that video can cause, and more. If you are encouraging participants to turn on their video, it is important to keep in mind that some participants may have good reasons for not wanting to do so. This is true in the classroom setting as well as in business meetings.
Test your video and audio before your event: You’ll be able to fix any issues before they impact your guest experience.
Breakout rooms can be used for small-group discussion and collaboration. However, it is important to plan ahead for technical difficulties. Participants who cannot join breakout rooms can use the main room as an alternative space for discussion. If live captionists or ASL interpreters are present, make sure to assign them to the same breakout room as the participant receiving the live captioning or ASL interpreting.
Give attendees the opportunity to (anonymously, if desired) share any additional accessibility requests that were not covered in the event’s access information.
Here are some sample disclaimers
for your event.
You're free to use them as you see fit. For accessibility, we recommend saying them out loud and presenting them in writing too.
The following services can help you, or someone you know, access information during an emergency. Communicate this with your audience.
To access this information in other languages call the Translating and Interpreting Service
on 131 450 (freecall) and ask them to call the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection hotline.
Translated coronavirus (COVID-19) resources are available here
If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech/communication impairment contact National Relay Service
on 1800 555 677 and ask them to call the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection hotline.
We advise that any online events are scheduled to NOT start on the hour (e.g., 1:10pm, 1:15pm, etc) to avoid the server jam that occurs as the majority meetings will be starting on the hour (1pm).
Choosing the Right Platform for Your Online Event
When planning your online event the platform you use to present it is most likely to fall into one of these three categories:
- Video Meeting
Each may be better suited for different events, for e.g. you can use a webinar if you have content or slides you want to share with your attendees, or a livestream for events with a larger audience.
Two things you should consider when making this decision are:
- What is the level of interaction do you expect from your participants?
- What is the number of people who will participate in my event?
2-30 people (although Zoom can support up to 100).
A small to medium sized event with a high degree of interaction between attendees. In most cases all organisers and attendees can communicate with eachother.
Medium to large scale event 50 – 500 people.
A webinar is one level up from a video meeting. It is like a virtual lecture theatre or hall and can accommodate much larger audiences than a meeting.
In a webinar a host and panellists can speak and share audio, video and graphical content with each other and the audience. On the other hand the audience can see and hear the hosts and panellists and have some limited interaction by asking questions or virtually raising a hand and may not be able to interact with other audience members – although the chat function of certain platforms makes this possible.
Large scale events. 500+ people.
Like a private TV broadcast. Participants “perform” for an audience, but audience does not interact with each other or with the performer within the broadcast. Depending on the platform, may be able interact
indirectly in the form of comments or reaction
Choose the right technology in line with what you have available, consider the technology that your audience may have also.
- Integrate with Facebook and YouTube platforms
- Solve for interactivity with live chat features and Q&A polling.
- Include virtual hand-raising and track how interested your audience is with your content.
Use for everything from webinars, collectives and workshops to trivia, yoga and meditation classes! UoM users who have a staff account (this is all of us) get a free “Pro” subscription. Zoom is available for Computers, Smart Phones and Tablets.
Info on Zoom is available here
The UniMelb Zoom Conferencing Portal is here (this gets you the pro subscription and gives you download links).
How to Set Up a Zoom Meeting with Privacy and Secure Settings
A zoom webinar can host up to 100 video panelists and 10000 attendees. To access the UMSU zoom account with webinar abilities please contact the events team.
Zoom Privacy Tips
Setting up Meeting: Select “schedule” to create a meeting. The “New Meeting” button will also let you create a meeting but this is a quick start option with basic default settings, choosing to the schedule the meeting gives you more control over the meeting security settings
Meeting ID: Choose “Generate Automatically”. This will randomly generate a new meeting ID which improves security. Choosing your personal meeting id is like putting your personal phone number or email address in the public domain and should be avoided to protect your privacy as it can be captured and used by uninvited third parties to crash your meetings.
Password: Make sure this is checked. You will be supplied a randomly generated password to give out to your attendees or have the option to set your own.
Offensive Content/Disruption: As a host you have the ability to mute or turn off the screen of attendees. Do not hesitate to do this if they are sharing offensive content, abusing other members of chat or general harmful or disruptive behaviour.
Advanced Options: Check “Enable Waiting Room” and “Mute Participants” on entry. A waiting room is a security feature that lets the host screen people who have joined the meeting in a separate holding area until they can be verified. This will allow you to filter out any uninvited guests.
Alternative hosts: Enter the email address of another Zoom user who is licensed, on your account to allow them to start the meeting in your absence.
Teams is Microsoft’s video meeting software and is included as part of the Office 365 suite, so chances are if you are using Office you already have access to it. In terms of features Teams and Zoom are roughly equal which both offering online meetings, chat and screen and file sharing. Where Teams has the edge over Zoom is its tight integration with the apps found in Office 365 suite. However, Zoom has the slight edge in terms of the design of it’s user interface which has made the app extremely easy to use for new users which has been an key part of its rapid rise in popularity as a online meeting tool.
General consensus is that Teams is the preferred platform for internal collaboration if you are part of an organisation which uses the Office 365 Suite, where as Zoom is the best option for working externally due to it’s widespread use in the wider community.
Facebook Live: Live is the best way to connect with viewers in real time on their phones, computers, and in their living rooms through the Facebook Watch TV app. Live videos on Facebook can be viewed by anyone, whether they have a Facebook account or not. If you’d like to display a feature a performer, story teller or instructor — a video streaming service like Facebook Live is a good place to start.
Facebook Messenger Rooms: Messenger Rooms is Facebook’s new video meeting/chat platform that was rolled out a couple of weeks ago. It allows you to create a video chat room that can host up to 50 participants at once. A Messenger room has the benefit of allowing people without a Facebook account to join a room without having to sign up. Please note that to create a Room, you need to be using the Facebook Mobile phone app or the desktop messenger app.
Other Online Event Platforms:
Livestream with Live control Room for Live Streaming on Youtube
Sofasessions: Join scheduled jam sessions or create your own rehearsals. Play some cover songs, improvise over backing tracks or introduce the others to your own music.
Crowdpurr: Lets you create customisable Live Crowd trivia for free.
While we may not be able to run Gigs, there is a place to create listening parties on Spotify.
Take a free online improv comedy
class and zoom a comedy show to your audience.
The events team also has a Hopin
account that can be used for larger scale, expo events. Great to use if you want multiple event spaces.
Promoting your online event/s
Include words like free gig/webinar/workshop in your ev
A clear title is great for accessibility and helps attendees find events.
Use the Event Description to provide detailed information
• Be clear about when attendees will receive a link to join your event, what you’ll cover, and who’s speaking or presenting.
• If you expect attendees from multiple time zones, use the Event Description to clarify start and end times.
• Include information about any software and internet connection requirements to ensure a smooth viewing experience for attendees.
Event registration/tickets – Free or Paid
Providing a ticket is a good indicator to track attendance numbers, provide the attendee with all event information including passwords, slides, and means to connect with your audience/attendees pre and post the event.
Ticketing can also help build your list of contacts, as everyone needs to input their details in order to join online. And by recording the event you will have created a valuable piece of content that can be shared with attendees or offered as a gated asset on your website for other people to download.
As your event is taking place online, you should focus your marketing activities online too. Just make sure that every blog post, tweet and update includes a clear call to action to register for the event or purchase tickets online.
Add the event registration link to your homepage and email newsletters, or use the integration tool offered by a ticketing platform to sell tickets directly from your website or Facebook page. You should also use email marketing automation tools to send out a series of messages to your contact list with the aim of raising awareness and turning readers into attendees.
Online UMSU Events calendar
We have created a new Online Events calendar on the UMSU website, to showcase the various online events and initiatives that are running as these become introduced.
You can find the online-only events calendar currently live on the UMSU website under Get Involved > All Events Calendar.
How to add your event to the Online Events calendar
To publish your event on this calendar, follow the normal process for creating a new event, and then select ‘Online event’ from the Calendars toolbar on the right-hand side.