GetAhead VA’s long-standing client, Shannon, runs a leadership coaching business. Long before the coronavirus pandemic, she had arranged an international, in-person, four-day conference with thirty delegates. When the global crisis threw a spanner in the works, she had no option but to hold the conference on Zoom instead.

Running a conference on Zoom has different demands from running one at a standard conference venue. While all the stress of catering and overnight accommodation disappears, different concerns about internet connections, hardware, software and real-time tech support present themselves instead. Shannon needed a virtual conference facilitator and we’re proud to say she came straight to us. At the time, our experienced VA Jenny Serra didn’t have direct experience of facilitating Zoom conferences, but she has used Zoom a lot and is one of our most tech-savvy VAs. She built on her existing skills and knowledge to deliver exactly what Shannon needed.

Why Zoom?

Shannon and Jenny considered other platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, but quickly realised that only Zoom had the necessary capacity. In particular, Zoom offers breakout rooms, enabling smaller groups of people to meet.

Before the Zoom conference

Jenny’s role began before the conference started, planning logistics over Zoom and via a dedicated WhatsApp group (which Jenny also administrated).

Some of the businesses whose leaders were attending the conference had concerns about the security of Zoom, and wouldn’t allow company hardware to be used. This meant that the delegates had to install Zoom on their own devices in advance.

Those who had never used Zoom before needed support while they were getting to know its capabilities. Jenny sent a lot of emails before and during the event to ensure that everyone was getting the best experience from the software.

During the Zoom conference

Jenny’s main task was getting the right people in the right seminar at the right time. One of the biggest challenges was that Zoom does not allow facilitators to set up breakout rooms in advance of the meeting – it all has to be done in real time. While the speakers were presenting their expertise, Jenny was busy behind the scenes, setting up each breakout room separately (and creating waiting rooms) so that delegates could transfer straight over at the appropriate time.

On-call Zoom facilitation

Jenny remained on-call for the whole of the conference, managing Zoom chats, muting delegates as required and dealing with technical hitches. She had hoped to listen in and gain some new knowledge from the conference, but she was so busy keeping it running smoothly that she didn’t have time!

After the Zoom conference

Jenny’s role didn’t end with the conference. She attended a debrief immediately afterwards, and she’s still managing the WhatsApp group.

Jenny worked incredibly hard (a four-day Zoomathon is exhausting!) but Shannon made a special effort to look after Jenny and show her appreciation. Jenny was made to feel valued and included – everyone at the conference even drank her health at the virtual drinks evening. Shannon has given Jenny and Get Ahead VA a great testimonial too (thanks, Shannon!).

Looking ahead, Shannon has decided to host another virtual conference in November and has already asked Jenny if she will facilitate it.

Host your next conference on Zoom

Zoom conferencing is an opportunity we’ve only had to explore because of COIVD-19, but we believe it’s here to stay. To find out how we can help you get the most from virtual conferencing, get in touch today on 01483 332 230.

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