2020 forced the event industry to boost its use of technology when still wanting to be able to host meetings and events. And one of the most popular tools has been Zoom. It is a video conferencing tool in its basics which made it so easy to use and therefore, being implemented widely in private and business video calls. But can Zoom be used to host events in a professional way to deliver valuable experiences for the audience? When does it make sense to use Zoom and when should you rather opt for another tool?
Zoom – for simple and non-complicated meetings
Compared to other complex event platforms, Zoom is very easy to use – if you ignore the regular “cannot hear you, you are muted” issues – and therefore recommended to choose when your attendees are not so familiar with the internet. It is very likely though that they have come across Zoom for talking to their families. Hence, using a basic video communication tool that your audience is already familiar with will avoid them to struggle with new, complicated tools.
So, when things are supposed to be simple and there is nothing complicated planned or expected, Zoom will be fine and an adequate replacement. I recommend it when it has to go back to the basics and being very user-friendly.
Enhance the Zoom experience with additional features
Above, you can enhance the Zoom experience with the paid version. The pricing options are very flexible and can be changed every month according to your needs. Due to its popularity and high demand, their team is also constantly working on new great features, and you can use Zoom also to host checklists, divide the audience in breakout rooms, use a joined whiteboard, etc. Creating a debrief room to connect with speakers before they go live is a great way to make sure technology works on both sides and they are ready to go – instead of losing valuable minutes to set him or her up in front of the attendees.
Soon it will also be able to log in to multiple Zooms and have them as a split screen as a host. You see, there are many options to increase the simple Zoom call to a more event-like experience.
Broadcasting with Zoom – maybe, maybe not?
Zoom offers the option to hide attendees and only show the panelists which gives it a broadcasting character. This is highly recommended especially for larger meetings since it avoids attendees forgetting to mute themselves – unless you moderate this via the host – and improving speed because each video consumes more of the bandwidth.
Very often, Zoom is also used as the uncomplicated way for a speaker’s intake. You may choose a broadcasting tool like OBS, record the speaker via Zoom, and then stream the content on your event platform. Those platforms usually work with interfaces to implement many of the available streaming or video conferencing tools.
However, if you need high quality streaming where people should just watch the content, Zoom might not be the best option. It simply doesn’t provide the broadcasting quality that we want (yet). And sending a professionally produced video to be played via Zoom doesn’t make sense either because we cannot control the quality in the way we are able to do so with own servers and platforms, when defining audio quality, bit rates, video frames etc.
Zoom calls themselves are also not enough for a professional broadcast. Analyze a simple 2-minute news show on tv and you will realize how much ‘action’ there actually is. To produce broadcast quality that satisfies and engages the audience, you have to get creative with the tools available, pay attention to camera angles, b-roll footage, make use of green screens, and deliver quality audio and video.
Possibilities how to use Zoom
Like many other video conferencing tools, Zoom can be used for some live interaction alongside the usual presentation or meeting type style. Get the attendees to interact together via simple ice breaker or warm-up games, by working together they can form a big picture from all their individual videos, create chain-reactions that ‘roll through the screen’, or form phrases with each sheet that everyone holds in the camera. Simple, short activities will get everyone to participate and ease the Zoom-fatigue.
When dividing the group into different breakout rooms, make sure to have a sub-moderator or staff of your team to moderate each room, or at least check in every once in a while to see if the participants get along with the tasks or have any other technical issues.
In general, Zoom is a great – hence uncomplicated – tool to provide technical support for your online events. When using more complex event platforms a tech team can help the attendees via Zoom calls with any problems with technology to get them to enjoy the event to the fullest.
Summarizing, it is fair to say that before, Zoom calls would have been interpreted as “you don’t value me enough to spend time in a real meeting.” However, over the past, they have become more accepted now because a video call actually saves time for both sides. Instead of flying to a single 2-hour-meeting or driving there for hours, these types of meetings will be great to replace via Zoom.
Yet, other important and longer conferences or complex meetings will still be more effective in-person or on event platforms that offer more functions and engagement. Especially for larger events when more people are involved and required to mingle, it is easier to talk one-by-one in a room than online when people don’t see who else wants to talk. And for virtual events you might want to implement a proximity chat to create these natural talking grounds over forcing them into one Zoom lounge call.
Curious to hear about further options for online events that go beyond Zoom calls? Send us an email or check our upcoming blog posts this season.
Happy New Year!