Tips & TricksVirtual Communication

The Value of Chat During a Live Virtual Event

Posted on:
September 8, 2022

A live virtual event is a proven way to connect and share emotions with your participating students. We love it so much for campus tours because it not only allows the presenter to navigate through tour stops and share campus stories but to also build relationships with participants through dialogue and authentic conversations. This is where the fun lies. That personal connection makes students feel welcomed and already connected to your school campus.

But, while the live video builds the atmosphere and makes it easy for the host to engage visually, there are moments when communication may not flow so easy and introverted students could find it hard to express themselves. Or more, a participant may encounter problems during the event and needs attention, or the host wishes to share follow-up information and links when it is still fresh in students' minds.

The chat box is a good channel to use in moments like these. Here are a few ways how to use Chat for your benefit, during a live tour.

*Keyboard hack to use emojis: for Windows: press and hold the Windows button + either the period (.) or semicolon (;) until you see the emoji picker appear / for Apple: press and hold Cmd + Ctrl + Space until the emoji picker appears.

1. Make all your participants feel valued

As humans, we are social creatures, our need to interact will not change just because we are in a virtual setting. But as a host of a virtual event, it is not easy to present and manage the interaction with multiple visitors, especially when you have a flow of information and content you want to go over but you want your audience to participate, and share comments, and questions. Here's how you can make them feel valued, without it disrupting your flow.

  • At the beginning, set some code words or code phrases or code letters as quick reactions to use in the chat box during your speech, to express how they're feeling. This will make you aware of their feedback without having to follow each webcam for a reaction. And they can also be used to draw your attention. For example, have them use the word "more" if they want you to go into details about an idea/tour stop you're presenting, or question mark if something was unclear. They can use an exclamation point or the word "here" when they want to ask or say something.
  • Start off your tour with an additional written Welcome message ("Howdy / Hello there / Welcome!"), to make them more aware of the channel and help set the tone. Also, you can invite students to write a (different) nickname by which they want to be called so that nobody forgets after.
  • Invite them to leave questions in the chat if they get curious and think of ideas from your presentation, and either pause during the tour or put aside time at the end to go through all. Make sure you organize the Q&A so that it won't interrupt your flow but give them a chance to speak up.

The intention is to make them feel comfortable to express themselves, and encourage the shy students to interact. You don't want the chat to be a distraction for them and create a new conversation in parallel with your tour, but to feel like a safe space to share.

2. Provide support, troubleshoot problems

Don't assume everybody attending your virtual tour knows the platform and where to find support if problems occur. So prepare in advance, and use the chat to offer quick support. Ultimately, your focus during the live tour should remain on delivering great content.

  • Make a list of essential links: the knowledge base articles (propose the search tool or chat bot, or a direct link where to go for specific issues, e.g. if camera / audio / mic not working), link to test the internet connection, the admissions webpage, links to other support resources for follow-up or next steps in a student's enrollment process, link to your virtual tour event.
  • Use pre-written texts that you can instantly post as tips for specific common problems: you might recommend a specific browser (e.g. Google Chrome) for the best experience as a starting point, or how to “unfreeze” video and audio (e.g., suggest visitors close other programs or get closer to their wireless router).
  • Offer alternate ways and resources to get support - email, phone, specific webpages - some students prefer to get help in a more private context.

The intention is to build trust by showing immediate support. You want to keep them fully onboard and make the experience feel easy and pleasant for them.

3. Set next steps and gather feedback

Providing engaging live virtual events takes practice, it helps if you take a few minutes after each session to evaluate how it went and what caught your visitors attention or excited them. You can use the chat to post a link to your personal survey (invite them to access it before you close), or simply ask them to write down in 3 words what they liked the most from your campus, or on a scale from 1-10 how much they feel they fit with your school. Get creative here, make it fun and useful for you at the end.

Also, for OrgAdmins, if you want to revisit the chat and look at certain questions that visitors wrote or the reactions they put in writing during the tour, access and review the Chat transcript from your HelloCampus Dashboard. Simply go to Past Events and find the Chat link for download under the room you're interested in.

We hope all these small tips will take your live virtual events to the next level with engagement. Happy interactions!

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