Our top tips for hosting online engagement events
Public Engagement describes the ways in which higher education and research can be shared with the public. It is a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit. In this blog category, you will find out about the different ways in which the Faculty engages with the public through events, projects and training opportunities.
The Social Responsibility and Public Engagement (SRPE) team recently led on the Faculty’s first online Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Celebration event. The event is normally held each summer in person, however due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 celebration event was conducted online.
From the team’s experience in creating this engaging online event, we have compiled a list of top tips to help you in designing your own online engagement activities.
- Consider asking your speakers to pre-record their talks for you to play the video (screen share) during the meeting. This will help you time manage, and plan appropriate questions and discussion points.
- Have additional team members support the online event. This will help you facilitate discussions and with the technical elements; e.g. muting/unmuting guests, creating breakout rooms or poll features, and accepting attendees into the meeting. Have a meeting with your team before the event starts to ensure everyone feels confident about their roles.
- Make a group WhatsApp chat (or similar) with all your speakers, meeting hosts, facilitators and technical support. This can help you communicate off-camera and in private in response to unplanned interruptions/system issues etc. or to discuss any time pressures.
- Plan in comfort breaks of 5/10mins for events that are over one hour in length. You can also create a ‘holding slide’ on PowerPoint to share, and play music during the break to prevent any ‘dead space’.
- To improve accessibility, ask attendees in advance if they have any additional requirements and circulate the event programme/PowerPoint slides in advance if possible. Consider creating a short how-to-use guide for the meeting software you are planning on using e.g. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate
- Record your online event so the event can be watched by people who were unable to attend the live event. You can then add subtitles to your recording as well.
- If you’re using social media to promote your event, consider having a meeting password to prevent the risk of ‘Zoom bombing’, making the event more secure for attendees.
- As many in-person events would typically include networking time and coffee breaks, why not encourage attendees to arrive a bit early or stay a bit later after the event to have conversations with other attendees. You could also include networking time as part of the event programme and use break-out room functions to facilitate discussions.
Further resources to help you with online engagement:
- Access our full guide on how to engage remotely here.
- A detailed ‘hints and tips’ document when using Zoom for your events, click here.
- Access our guide on how to use Zoom, here.
- PowerPoint slides for our Zoom training, here.
- For more information about this year’s PPIE celebration event, click here.
- For more tips on running online PPIE engagement events from the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), click here.
- To access a guide about facilitating community through online events, click here.
If you have some top tips from your own online PPIE events and activities, we would love to hear from you. Why not email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts in a blog piece for us?
For further information about the Faculty’s PPIE events, training and involvement opportunities, you can sign up for our monthly digest, follow us on twitter, visit our website, or contact email@example.com. You can also access more PPIE resources at the Faculty’s PPIE Toolkit.