With the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, librarians have been thrown for quite a loop. If you are rethinking your programming and shifting from in person to virtual events, consider these tips for holding a great virtual seminar at your library.

#1 Select the speaker wisely

Librarians are pummeled by speaker submissions and it is exhausting to try to decipher the good speakers from the ones who just want to solicit clients for their business. A speaker who bombs creates a reputational risk for the library and threatens to decrease future interest in library seminars. How can you select a good speaker for your library seminar?

·       Prepare a list of questions that uncover the speaker’s experience level and what he or she intends to impart to the audience

·       Ask for references

·       Have a qualifying call in which you screen out those with the motivation to get more out of it for themselves than they intend to give to the audience

·       Consider non profits as many times these organizations are very mission driven and in some cases may not allow solicitations of any kind in their presentations

#2 Have a rehearsal call

It’s unfortunate when there is so much preparation work done for the big day, and due to technical malfunctions or organizational mishaps, the presentation goes flop. Hold a brief rehearsal a few days before the webinar and test all technology. Having practiced beforehand will bring the additional benefit of helping the speaker feel more at ease during the live presentation.

When possible, allow the speaker to use the webinar application that he or she is most familiar with. For example, if they are comfortable using Zoom, go with that. Since they are the ones who will be operating the slides most of the time, use what they are most familiar with. This is an easy way to reduce risk of confusion.

#3 Create high visibility

It can be disappointing to see a low turnout for an event. Give your patrons a glimpse of what the seminar will be about through email newsletters, social media, and by publishing information about the seminar on your website. You may even want to ask the speaker to promote the event to his or her following. The more visibility, the higher the turnout.

It’s useful to establish a goal for attendance. Count on a little less than half of the people who registered converting into attendees. If you want to have 20 people on the line, you have to register about 50. Work backwards to figure out what you need to do to.

Conclusion

If you are in the process of putting together a virtual seminar for your library and have questions, please feel free to reach out to me. I’m an experienced speaker who has done many virtual and in person presentations in the past and would be happy to offer any ideas that could help.

Disclosure: Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.