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How We Dealt With Technology During a Live Virtual Event: Taking Christmas Digital

September 1, 2020
Anne Chanski
My name is Anne Chanski, the Spiritual Formation Operations Director at Central Wesleyan Church.

I recently facilitated our Taking Christmas Digital virtual summit, and while I have a strong background in the church environment and communications, every day I’m continuing to learn how to improve my own knowledge in order to better help others.

Gathering in-person just isn’t possible during COVID-19, so naturally I partnered with Symposia Labs – a digital agency – to host a virtual educational event instead. Not only did we endure a lot of planning, but we made Taking Christmas Digital a live event, bringing on an additional layer of challenges and logistics.

Even with our meticulous planning, we still had a few technical difficulties in session one (if you missed the summit, sign up here to get the recordings and resources). The Symposia team and I pride ourselves on our excellence and discussed reshooting or editing out the technical problems. However, after much deliberation, we decided to leave it in. 

Why? 

Because as you continue to move your ministry online, things will not always go as planned, and we take those as learning opportunities. In fact, this spring my church experienced a major technical glitch, sending a soundless video to over 5,000 people through Facebook and their online platform on a Sunday morning. Ouch. But guess what? We learned from it, and we keep getting better.

In addition to excellence, learning is one of the core values at Symposia and the team and I thought it might be helpful to you to see how we handled the problems when they arose.

Are technical problems embarrassing? You bet. But how you handle them will determine if your audience sticks around or moves on. 

Here are some things you can do to navigate technical trouble: 
  1. In a live video session, have multiple people on the session. If one person’s wifi goes down, someone else can pick up the ball. If it’s a pre-recorded video, end the feed and fill in with something live or skip ahead to the next video and share the pre-recorded portion later. 
  2. Have a plan for if the facilitator has technical trouble. Fortunately that didn’t happen, but we were ready with others on the call who knew the questions and were able to jump in in the event 
  3. Take a look at how I quickly adjusted, continued the conversation, and redirected questions without lag time. If someone’s video feed freezes or they can’t unmute themselves, briefly acknowledge the issue out loud but then quickly move on to the other speaker. 
  4. Practice something going wrong. This wasn’t the first time I had facilitated a conversation where technical issues were present, so I’m more conscious of knowing what to do when something doesn’t go as planned. If you are new to hosting online conversations, practice. And practice a scenario where you have to make quick changes. This will keep you looking and feeling calm in the moment, giving your audience confidence in you and your ability to deliver. 
We hope you learn a lot from this summit – and even some lessons we maybe didn’t set out to share. Learning is one of our core values at Symposia, because we can all always get better. Thank you for joining us!

If you’re interested in learning more or just having a chat with me about your church, let’s talk! I’d love to connect, so please feel free to reach out to me at achanski@centralholland.org!