The Do’s and Dont's of Utilizing Chat Tools During a Web Conference

Posted by Amit Rathee on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 @ 11:43 AM

web conferencing,web conference,web conferencing tips,web conferencing best practicesOnstream Media's Web Conferencing is a great way for businesses to interact with customers, potential clients, vendors and even business associates. When you hold one of these conferences, it is important to encourage this interaction. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the chat feature. With the right web conferencing tips, you can make implementing the chat into your conference easier than ever, making it a useful tool for both you and your audience.

Potential Problems

One of the main concerns with using chat as part of a web conference is how long to give people to respond. Typing in a chat box can be time consuming for some of your attendees, leaving you to wonder how long to wait for people to respond to you. If you don’t give them enough time, you will cause several things to happen:

  • Cause frustration in your audience. When you ask your audience to respond to something you said but keep talking, they are forced to multi-task, formulating a response while they try to listen to what you are saying. This will only frustrate most people.
  • Create a feeling of disrespect and an uncaring attitude. When you don’t allow enough time, you make it seem as if their feedback wasn’t important to you after all. One of the most important web conferencing tips is to make sure your audience feels important.
  • Interrupt your presentation flow. When you move on too quickly, you will read responses after you are past the particular point your web conferencing audience is commenting on. This will cause you to jump back in your presentation, making it difficult to follow your process.

Think about Your Audience

If you expect your web conference audience to respond to you in the chat box, you need to think like your audience. Some people will need to locate the chat box and figure out how to use it before they can respond. Everyone will have to think about what you asked and formulate a response. Then add in the time it takes to type in the response, which is different for everyone, and it could easily take up quite a bit of time. However, if you give them the amount of time they need, you will make your web conferencing more successful.

Chat Web Conferencing Tips

Before you use chat as part of your web conference, it is important to learn how to implement effectively to allow everyone the time they need to respond without slowing down your presentation to a point it becomes difficult to pay attention. These tips can help you get on the right track:

  • Start small. When you throw a long, involved question at your audience from the start, it is going to take them much longer to become familiar with the chat feature. Instead, ask something simple and short at the beginning of your web conference, such as their names or where they are from. This allows them to find the chat box, learn how to use it and practice responding before you require them to create a longer, more involved answer. You should also recognize at least a few of the responses verbally so you can show your audience you are really reading what they write.
  • Use a placeholder slide.  It is best to choose something that relates to the topic, such as a brief overview of the information your audience is commenting on or a chart or other graphic that directly relates to the topic at hand. This also gives your audience something to look at while they are waiting for others to finish their responses.
  • Give a sample. Some of your web conferencing audience may not know what you expect of them. You can remedy this situation by asking your question and then giving a sample response. The sample will allow people to state agreement or disagreement and will show them what you expect as an answer.
  • Be clear and concise. Always make sure you word your questions in a way your audience will clearly know what you are asking of them. Make sure all questions can be answered with a short, concise answer, rather than a long, drawn-out one. This increases the chances that everyone will answer and makes it easier for you to read through the responses as well.
  • Monitor responses. Some web conferencing software allows you to see when people are typing or when they submit a response. If your program offers this feature, make sure you use it. When you notice no one is typing, you can then feel comfortable moving on and addressing the answers you have received. On the other hand, if there are only a couple of people still typing, you can acknowledge that you are still waiting for them and provide additional filler content to keep those who are finished something to do while you wait for the final responses. This will encourage everyone to finish responding without worrying about missing something important.
  • Conform to your audience’s needs as you progress. In the beginning, using the chat features as part of a web conference can be difficult. However, when you have an interactive audience that is engaged and responding well to the use of the chat feature to answer questions, it will become easier as your web conferencing event progresses. Later in your presentation, you will be able to remain quiet without having to add filler because your audience will be used to the natural flow of asking questions and waiting for everyone to type in a response. However, it is important not to enter into this stage too early. If your audience isn’t ready for it, you can cause people to stop responding. Some audiences are never ready for this stage so gauge your audience and their responsiveness carefully.

When you follow these web conferencing tips for your Onstream web conference, you will be able to successfully implement chat into your events and make the experience richer for yourself and your audience. When used properly, chat can be an excellent feature to use, allowing you to obtain information and opinions from your audience, as well as the ability to tailor your presentation to best meet their needs.

Tags: Onstream Media, web conferencing, Web conferencing Best Practices;, web conferencing tips, web conference

OW 300x250 resized 600