Every business faces challenges at one step or the other. Senior executives want to have discussions with the same level executives to overcome it. To accommodate this need, hosting a virtual roundtable discussion is a brilliant way out. They enable participants to share their knowledge and experience and discuss business challenges with a group of skilled professionals. In this article, we will show you how you can host a virtual roundtable discussion that senior executives actually will attend.
How to host a virtual roundtable
1. Define the goals of the virtual roundtable
Before hosting a virtual roundtable, you need to define your objectives. Why are you doing this roundtable? There can be multiple reasons: To give visibility to your company, obtain leads, learn from your peers, etc. You have to be clear about it so you can define how the roundtable is going to be.
Apart from your desired set goals, you must have your potential target audience in mind before kickstarting virtual networking. While deciding upon your objectives, answer a few questions such as “what should be the target attendance?” and “what should be our call-to-actions?”, among others.
2. Select the topic for discussion
The discussion topic will determine the number of people who want to attend your roundtable. The topic should be compelling within your industry and it should add significant value to your audience.
Of course, the topic must align with what your company can offer. At the end of the day, you want to provide the audience with inspiration on how they can solve critical issues with your solutions.
To help you choose the topic, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there any relevant questions facing your industry currently?
- How does the topic reflect on your brand?
- Do different but equally compelling sides of the issue exist?
3. Decide the length and the number of speakers
The duration of the roundtable discussion should be between 60 and 90 minutes. Any longer will probably tire the audience.
As for the time distribution, if for example you host a 60-minute virtual roundtable, it should be something like this:
- 10 minutes: Introduction and current situation sketch
- 40 minutes: Interactive discussions
- 10 minutes: Wrap up and call to actions
Regarding the size, carefully consider how many people you want at your roundtable. Too many people can make no one feel heard. However, too few can lead to someone monopolizing the conversation. Always keep in mind: quality over quantity.
4. Make an agenda
You must send a copy of the agenda to all the roundtable participants. It will ensure they know what and when things will happen and will help them stay focused. The agenda should include the following:
- The topic clearly stated.
- The purpose of the roundtable.
- The primary discussion points.
- The roundtable timeline – start, end, and break times.
- Ground rules: You can establish rules on how to behave
5. Customize the virtual roundtable
How many virtual roundtables have you seen that look like regular videoconferences with multiple people?
It’s time to abandon that simplicity and stand out from the rest.
A little bit of creativity and good visuals are key for your roundtable to be remembered. Watchity allows you to customize your live video connecting cameras and smartphones, sharing your screen or webcam, adding lower-thirds, overlays, brand logos and pre-recorded videos. This way, you can create great-looking virtual roundtables and other virtual activities with an amazing image.
6. Choose the right moderator
You need to choose who will moderate the roundtable discussion. There are a couple of options out there.
- A senior executive of your company
- A person from outside the company
You might be able to create more value when you get an independent person to moderate your roundtable discussion. Because this person is not influenced and that increases credibility. But be sure that this moderator is an expert on the topic that will be discussed.
If you have a notable moderator, then that will be another great tool to drive more high-quality people to your roundtable.
7. Invite your customers to attend the roundtable
While hosting a virtual roundtable discussion do not forget to invite clients as attendees and key partners. Customers can give a brief insight into how they have resolved business challenges that are being discussed at roundtables. Additionally, the chances of attracting a quality audience increases when customers with big names attend roundtable discussions. You can call them or invite them via email.
8. Have an engagement plan
You need to provide the best experience to your audience. With any virtual roundtable discussion, there are some things that you should include:
- Pre-event polling: discover what they hope to learn from your roundtable and why they are attending.
- Live chat: with a live chat the audience will feel included.
- A video at the start of the discussion can keep people’s attention alive.
- Q&A sessions: Having a Q&A session with the audience at some point of the roundtable it’s an excellent way to engage them.
9. Create a follow-up plan
It should be your goal to have a follow-up meeting with everyone that attended your virtual roundtable discussion. Generally, attendees who attend virtual roundtable discussions are senior-level executives and are hard to reach after days of events. Schedule a follow-up meeting as soon as possible once the round table discussion gets over.
Besides, people who attended as audience can become leads, so you can contact them with an email.
On the other hand, don’t forget to collect feedback from your roundtable attendees. The feedback helps in knowing the impediments and improvising the event to deliver better experiences. You can send a follow-up survey to your attendees via email or ask your sales representatives to collect feedback.