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Top 10 Webinar and Conference Call Tips During a Pandemic

Most of the market is shifting to create a new norm—work from home. Ideally this will be short lived, but for now, at a time of unprecedented market moves, it is business as unusual.

While it is not the time to run and hide from the marketplace, it might well be too soon for general marketing webinars. The market is bombarded, and professionals have families and more immediate needs at this time than a new sales pitch. For Advisors, their first responsibility is to the wellbeing of their client base. They are swamped with client requests for clarity and understanding, as well as potential needs for capital and portfolio changes.

Marketers beware, permanent damage may be done by firms who consider this a ‘great time’ to push hard on the marketing front.

Knowing that individuals are sitting ducks, glued to their electronic devices and eagerly awaiting news of further governmental policy changes and market movements, does not justify adding unnecessary communications to their inboxes.

What You Can Do Now

It is NOT too soon to get out (virtually, of course) to speak to your clients, who have already entrusted you with their livelihood, either through their business or through their work. This can be extended to key constituents, and key prospects who have already actively engaged with the firm. Now is the time to be proactively communicating with this audience, offering a weekly call to touch base, share market perspectives, and generally provide market intelligence based on your area of expertise. This market will appreciate hearing your voices.

A few reminders about webinars and conference calls at these difficult times:

1. Schedule off hours (i.e. at 15 minutes past the hour) to avoid the risk of busy signals and jammed lines. Schedule your start times at 2:15 or 2:45 instead of 2:00, for example.

2. Schedule early am or in the evenings, pre or post market hours. If you have west coast clients, this will mean evening time slots. Consider 5:15pm ET, and so on.

3. Schedule more sessions and break up your audience to avoid overcrowding on the phone lines. Remind participants to use their computer audio, rather than attempting to dial in, which has been problematic among the major providers.

4. Reinforce the mute button to participants. There is lots of background noise these days, more than usual, and this can be distracting to your participants.

5. Reinforce history with appropriate disclosures and disclaimers—that markets do generally recover, that volatility does tend to pass, and that strategies like dollar cost averaging are relevant in tough markets.

6. Provide a few key visuals—a chart or two is all it takes, rather than simply a blank screen. This is likely to increase engagement and focus, and shows the audience that you are truly a steward of the markets, on top of it and making your decisions based on real data, not simply your ‘experience’ which may or may not be as relevant in this current market environment.

7. Keep the calls focused, with a clear agenda, with an expected 15-20-minute presentation and a few minutes for Q&A, carefully monitored and managed by the webinar/conference call coordinator.

8. Answer questions and be prepared with a few of your own if none are asked. Everyone appreciates this format but may not be up to posing a question.

9. Lead by example. We’ve been on zoom calls and other forums as of late where people are propped up against pillows, quite literally. This is beyond casual. Even for largely internal calls, demonstrate professionalism through a clear, uncluttered background and an upright, casual but professional presentation. 

10. Be thoughtful, clear and concise. The goal is to encourage understanding and clarity around this experience that we are all going through together. The environment is changing so rapidly; it is important to manage expectations by avoiding an overly optimistic or pessimistic perspective. At the end of the day the timing and scope of this current crisis remains unknown and is unlikely to be fully known for several months. For now, the value is in the communications, not in providing solutions.

Related: 4 Keys to Effective Crisis Communications