With almost everything being virtual these days, we’re becoming well versed in hosting businesses online. And even though we’re all anxious to get back together and be able to gather in person, some of the conveniences of conducting business online will help us be more efficient even after we return to the office. With that, we thought it’d be helpful to compile the lessons we’ve learned from conducting virtual site visits.
Managing the Technology
- Make sure you have a back-up plan for hosting and/or joining the meeting. This can be a number to call into, or another device that can be accessed. It never hurts to have a backup plan.
- Appoint a staff member to serve as the point of contact – bonus if they can troubleshoot technology challenges.
- Consider what will be in the background of your video, will it be distracting to others? It is simple to create virtual backgrounds that can be branded and help demonstrate your nonprofits mission.
- Playing videos is a wonderful way to showcase your program, just make sure you’ve checked the video settings ahead of time, they don’t all work automatically.
- We’ve noticed that audio is more clear when speakers use headphones with microphones.
Attending the Visit
- Consider if multiple staff members should attend the site visit. Are you going to call in individually, all from the same computer? These are things to coordinate in the days before the visit.
- With the virtual visit, more people can attend without the limitations of travel. Can the donors attending the site visit recommend any friends, family, or colleagues to join the visit with them? Since the nonprofit will already being doing the visit, it’s great for them to be able to expose more people to their mission and work.
- Is there a participant from the program that can attend? Hearing firsthand the impact of the program is always helpful, especially when there is opportunity for questions.
Addressing the Pandemic
- Be sure to include what your program numbers and budget were pre-pandemic.
- And contrast with what they are now.
- Address how the pandemic impacted operations, staffing, etc.
- Consider sharing how the organization was able to fund operations in 2020.
Keeping it Engaging
- We all stare at the computer too much these days. Try to incorporate a combination of information in the presentation including videos, photos, and a slideshow. Just make sure that the slideshow doesn’t have too much text on it. With all the competing distractions, it’s best to keep it simple and easy to skim.
- Use technology to your advantage and create polls, use the chat box and video reactions. You can also use other sites to create word clouds or gather participant opinions. Treat your presentation like a story, it should have a beginning, middle, and end and use technology to connect the different points of the site visit.
- Keep notice of the energy level of staff and participants. If you need to switch things up to re-engage everyone, do a quick check in and see if you can get energy back up.
- Sometimes people don’t like the first to unmute themselves or don’t want to interrupt others, make a plan for breaking through any awkwardness by preparing questions of your own.
We hope these tips help as you all continue the important work you provide in the community!