How to Plan a Virtual Event
The information below will provide additional recourse and considerations for planning a virtual event. It is important to make sure that your event is not planned around the platform you are using but rather planning around what you want to students to take away from the event.
All events at Carleton must have a completed Risk Management Form submitted by event organizers a minimum of 14 days in advance of the event. This will help ensure your event is safe and notify you of any liability; this applies for both virtual and in-person events. Event organizers can connect with the Risk Management Office should there be any questions or concerns about your event.
Virtual Event Platforms
Below you will find guides and resources that will help you run a virtual event based on the platform you wish to use. Some considerations when selecting a platform is how much interaction do you want participants to have. Is the event aimed to be informational or interactive? Will you have several speakers or only one? How many organizers do you have that can run the backend production of events? Is the event live, pre-recorded or both? All these questions need to be considered when selecting a platform that would work best for your event.
- Beginner Guide to Twitch (external website)
- Beginner’s Guide to Discord (external website)
With virtual events, the more production value it has, the more engaging the event will be. This includes background images for presentations, images or slide deck before the event starts and when it ends, and anything else you can use to increase the production value of your event.
Setting Expectations for Behaviour
Setting expectations for virtual programming is important as it provides participants with an understanding of how to participate and contribute. Expectations can be set in the text of rolling slides shown at the beginning of an event while participants arrive or mentioned by the person who is introducing the event.
Use of Video and Audio
Setting expectations about the use of audio and video can be helpful for participants. Depending on the event or number of people participating, event organizers may want to advise participants whether or not their audio or video should be on or off, and set expectations for when participants should be using these functions.
Consider the chat functions of the platform that will be used. It may be appropriate to remove private messaging functions within the chosen platform for the event, or to outline to participants when and how to use the chat feature.
Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy
Carleton University strives to provide a safe environment conducive to personal and intellectual growth, free of injustice and characterized by understanding respect, peace, trust, and fairness. The Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy governs the non-academic behaviour of students. The relevant offences within the Policy include: Harassment, Disruption, Mischief, Inciting Violence, and Verbal/Physical Abuses, Threatening Behaviour, and Dangerous Activity. Event organizers are encouraged to set behavioural expectations that align with the Student Rights and Responsibility Policy.
- “In accordance with Carleton University’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy, students are expected to participate in this event in a manner that is respectful and inclusive of the event organizers and fellow participants. The intent of this event is to (insert intent. example: learn and refine yoga practice) and behaviour that does not align with this intent may be escalated to the Office of Student Affairs.”
If a participant acts out of accordance of the expectations that were set for the event, the escalation procedure below should be followed. For minor infractions, event organizers are encouraged to reach out to the participant to remind of the behavioural expectations before escalating the incident further:
- Kindly advise the student that the Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy is in effect and that their behaviour does not align with the intent of the event. Depending on the nature of the infraction, it may be appropriate to advise the participant that any further behaviour will cause them to be removed from the event and may be sent to the Office of Student Affairs for follow-up.
- If the infraction is over audio or visual, organizers can mute the participant in the settings.
- If participant continues behaviour, take screen shots and remove participant from the event.
- If the incident is severe or behaviour continues to the point that a participant is removed, event organizers can contact Dillon Brady, Manager of Student Conduct and Harm Reduction (email@example.com) for a review of the incident.
- If a participant is removed from an event, they must be promptly notified that they were removed unless it is deemed unsafe to do so. When notifying a participant that they have been removed, include the reason(s) why, and what (if any) next steps are being taken.
Event organizers are encouraged to outline the escalation procedure for their event to participants. This can be done in a pre-event email or at the beginning of the event. Organizers can decide if they prefer to issue a warning or remove participants depending on the behaviour and nature of the event, however it is the responsibility of event organizers to provide participants with an expected outline of what this may look like for the event.
Mental Health and Wellness Concerns
If a participant’s behaviour causes event organizers to be concerned for the participant’s mental health and wellbeing, organizers can make use of the Care Report, which is submitted to the Care and Support Team in the Office of Student Affairs.
Before the Event
- Get familiar with the technology you will be using. It is recommended to do a run-through of the event with those who will have admin or presenter responsibilities. Ensure that you are comfortable with all platforms and features that will be used during the event.
- Identify the roles and responsibilities of team members during the event. Clearly outline who will be responsible for tasks such as: starting a slide show, stopping/starting music, managing the chat box, introduction, transitions, closing remarks, etc.
- Send a reminder email to participants. It is best practice to bcc email participants on any communication. A reminder email may include:
- Date and time of event
- Event link
- Instructions on using chat, audio, and visual functions during the event
- Behavioural expectations and escalation procedure
- Any supplies that may be needed to participate fully in the event
- Request for any accommodations that may be required by participants to participate in the event
- Consider what the welcome screen will look like when participants arrive to your event. It may be appropriate to have music playing softly, have a welcome screen, or a rolling slide-deck with announcements.
- Consider if the event will start right on-time, or if several minutes will be allowed for participants to arrive. If using a platform that requires participants to be permitted entry into the event, identify who will be responsible for this.
After the Event
- Have a debrief with those involved in hosting the event. Discuss what went well, any challenges encountered, and identify opportunities for any future events.
- It may be appropriate to thank participants for attending, and include any promotion for future events.
- Follow-up on any behavioural infractions in line with the escalation procedure that was outlined to participants. This may be speaking with the participant, submitting a Care Report, or contacting Dillon Brady, Manager of Student Care and Harm Reduction at firstname.lastname@example.org.