The live chat is an amazing tool for hybrid and virtual event planners. It is integrated into interactive virtual audience platforms but is often underused or even not used at all!
We were lucky to have a conversation about it with Benoît Trystram, strategic planner, editor designer and virtual and hybrid event expert. He tells us why we shouldn’t fear live chats and explains how to use them to our advantage to answer virtual participant’s needs.
Moderating or hosting?
There are two ways to manage a live chat:
- Action: the participant posts and I decide to publish it and to make it visible: the moderator acts beforehand.
- Reaction: every comment is visible immediately and the host reacts to the posts, resulting in a more flowing live chat.
Nowadays, most planners are either afraid of using a live chat, or they want to control it too much. They fear, amongst other things, that it will create “an event within the event”: but it shouldn’t be a problem. Agencies and event planners have to let go of their auto-centric vision: if a participant finds content and interacts via live chat, and finds what he was looking for, then there is no problem. It is a way to keep them online, to grab their attention: if the participant posts a comment, it means he is actively participating and listening.
Participants’ expectations have changed. They need to participate actively, and the live chat allows them to do that. They are a part of the event, they participate, they feed or even influence the conversation when the speaker reacts to questions and comments.
It is not just a speech given by one person, but a conversation between audiences.
So, to answer your question : hosting!
"I am convinced that we are entering a conversation and commenting era."
How to implement a dynamic live chat?
Nowadays, a live chat is a tool that needs to be planned like a PowerPoint presentation, like a video. And it is often underused.
A live chat has to be scripted:
First step: the live chat script. Here is my idea: before the event, the team has to write a detailed live chat script to drive the conversation.
Second step: host the live chat to keep it dynamic and lively during the entire event. A review can be used to make sure that the live chat isn’t only used at the end of the session. It has to be highlighted at different times: during activities and surveys for example. It is not about asking questions that are usually published too late or that are answered solely at the end: the speakers have to react to comments gradually.
Third step: we make sure that the participants are involved in the event by asking them, for example, to react on stage after a comment, which is a function offered by Sparkup.
Virtual audiences also look for serendipity. It is important to feed the conversation, to create encounters. With a virtual audience, it won’t be physical but the tools allow us to create interaction and engagement.
The three golden rules for a dynamic live chat?
DISPLAY: Show that the live chat exists by displaying it on the screen. It doesn’t have to be displayed continually, but as much as possible, during moments that are defined beforehand. It has to be visible to be used fully.
ANONYMISE: Allow everyone to use an alias. If needed, moderation can be used.
HOST: It is not up to the participants to manage the chat, it is the planner’s job. Of course, some members of the audience might take it over and influence the conversation. Keep in mind that 25 % of participants will post at least once, even if it’s just to say hello, and 5 % of them will take over the live chat.
The host must always be there to make sure that the chat stays a conversation, to keep it inclusive and to make it more dynamic if needed.
I will add that the live chat has to be marketed and made attractive to every audience. It is necessary to create interaction: polls, quizzes, questions, even if they are not automatically shared on stage. It guarantees that the participant stays engaged.
For more details, read Benoît’s article: Comment contrôler le contenu du tchat sur un événement digital ?