Created by Andrew Casper and presented by Josh Traulsen
Over the course of the last year, many of us have become Zoom experts, hosting amazing and interactive virtual programs for our communities. I thought it would be good for us to connect with someone who is actually a full-time virtual events producer for ideas to up your game. Who am I? I’m Josh Traulsen, Moishe House’s Senior Manager of Alumni Relations. Who is our expert? That’s Andrew Casper. Andrew has done it all at Moishe House… a former Moishe House resident, Retreat participant, Camp Nai Nai Nai camper, Retreatologist, MHWOW host, Moishe House Ambassador, and more! Professionally, Andrew is a multimedia specialist in the live events industry and during COVID has been producing virtual events for a variety of audiences. Here’s some wisdom Andrew has picked up over the last year for virtual events that we think could help you!
Before you get started, plan for success and be sure you have the following:
- A laptop or desktop with a webcam and microphone: Hosting (and participating in) events from a phone or tablet can be tough because of sound and image stability and limits access to all the tools you have available from the desktop versions of many video conferencing programs. Wanna do one better? You can look into USB webcams and microphones which can produce higher quality sound, video and allow a little more freedom in your setup
- Earbuds or headphones to prevent audio echoes: It’s not always possible for you as the host to hear when your participants are experiencing an echo from your end, but it can be a huge distraction! Using headphones (even inexpensive ones!) can cut down your chances of creating echoes and make it easier to hear your participants and for them to hear you.
- A strong internet connection: Though most video conferencing platforms advertise that an internet speed of at least 1mbps is required, 5mbps will produce superior video and audio quality. WiFi works, but if possible, dig out that ethernet cable you have buried in the back of your desk and plug it directly into your router for an uninterrupted connection. If you’re experiencing issues with your WiFi, check out this quick guide from Wired for some tips on how to increase your range and speed.
- An event outline or production schedule: Having a plan, even a very simple one, will help make sure you are accomplishing your goals, stick to your timing, and boost your confidence. These production schedules should include things like time for introductions, intention setting, ground rules, time for photos & collecting contact information, activities, and a closing. Contingency plans in case your attendance is not what you were expecting or the event is running too long can be helpful, too! Even a Shabbat dinner can benefit from an outline to make sure your program runs smoothly.
- All the supplies that you need: No one wants to sit around while you run to grab the supplies that you need during an event. To save time, make sure that you are prepared with whatever supplies you may need for the event. Pro tip: give your guests a heads up to bring something if you want them to enjoy an interactive experience.
If you are planning on doing a program that does not require real-time video participation, like a speaker series, cooking showcase, professional presentation, or performing arts piece, there are inexpensive and easy ways to enhance the value of your event:
- Download a video production software: This will allow you to add borders, nametags, fun transitions, branded backgrounds, fun layouts, and many more. Some have a low monthly cost, but many are free so check out sites like StreamYard, VMix, and OBS.
- Utilize Facebook Live, YouTube, Vimeo to share the content: These platforms offer some more flexibility for viewership and customization of your set-up.
- Add options for audience participation: Aside from blowing up the chat, there are plenty of apps that offer audience interaction. These apps can help participants feel connected and engaged at your program – some include quizzes, polling, questions & answers, word clouds, and plenty of other features! Slido, Menti, Kahoot, and AhaSlides are some of my personal favorites.
Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy with your virtual programming! Feel free to contact Andrew via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a thought partner with the tech side of your virtual program. He is happy to work with any Moishe House community builder to help enhance your virtual event, or discuss anything Moishe House! If you’d like to hear more about how you can stay engaged with Moishe House after your time as a community builder is done, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or just schedule some time with me here.