Interactive e-conferencing

$5k to $15k
estimated cost of external help
  • Communicate effectively
  • Share
0-2 weeks
estimated run time
3-5 weeks
estimated lead time
Strong communicator
recommended experience
E-conferences are electronic public meetings or presentations. An e-conference is usually convened for the benefit of those who are in remote locations or otherwise may not be able to attend a physical meeting. It’s usually run with a specific purpose or goal in mind. While typically informational, it allows plenty of time for participants to ask questions. Any questions can be responded to immediately, or they can be recorded and responded to after the event. Often, a combination of the two enables the most participation and allows the conference to keep to time. Usually, question submitters can indicate if they want a public or private response.

Typically, electronic public meetings are advertised in the same way as conventional ones. But there is less capacity for the audience to really get involved, and their ability to gauge the mood of their fellow viewers is limited.

In 5 steps...

  1. Choose your software. Consider issues – such as the need to download a program – that may make people less able or inclined to participate.
  2. Advertise and promote your event as widely as appropriate. Consider unusual channels such as doctors’ offices and post offices – places where your audience may pay more attention to your notice.
  3. Start your meeting by communicating a clear purpose and expectation. Ensure that everyone understands what will be discussed and what you are asking of them.
  4. Listen and receive feedback respectfully and thoughtfully. Record all feedback for later review.
  5. After the event, communicate back through the appropriate channels what you got out of it and how it influenced your project.

When to use it

E-conferences - electronic public meetings or presentations, are great tools for scenarios where you need to provide information to a community group and want to allow the group to ask questions, but getting everyone to a physical location may be difficult.


  • Increased visibility of changes or proposed solutions.
  • Quick feedback.
  • Fast input for decision-making.
  • Lends the voices of key stakeholders to the decision-making process.
  • Lends some transparency to the decision-making process.
  • May raise key risks that have not yet been addressed in the decision documents.
Long term
  • Improved reception of the final output.
  • Better relationships between the project team and key stakeholders.


  • Those who attend are most likely to be passionate about the topic, so they will not be a representative sample of the broader audience.
  • The ability of participants to provide information or otherwise contribute is highly limited in this format. If you want feedback, plan for this by allowing watchers to vote or submit comments at specific points.
  • Make sure you have controls to mute all participants. Particularly if there is a large number whose comments and questions you’ll want to restrict to typing only, or one-at-a-time audio.
  • Consider whether it is appropriate for participants to see the comments and questions added by others. This may be a distraction.
  • Hosting and reading questions off the screen as they come up, can make it hard to spot duplicate questions. The audience may end up watching you say ‘answered that one already’ again and again. Work with someone else who can process the questions for you to keep things moving along.



  • Consider a series of meetings rather than a single event if you have a lot of information to get through or would like a wider range of individuals to attend.
  • In all the promotional material, clearly and concisely communicate the goal and what attendees will be contributing.
  • Record and post the e-conference on your website so that those who could not attend at the time can still watch and submit their questions within a set time period.
  • Test all technology before the event to ensure that you do not waste any time on this during the meeting.

During the process

  • Allow people to indicate if they are comfortable with their question being read out to other participants.
  • It may be preferable to have a second person summarise questions into generalised questions if you have a great number of people watching. This will avoid the repetition of questions caused by lags, or disruptions if the host needs to recognise that a new question they are reading out is actually a duplicate.
  • Provide an agenda to give structure, and set any ground rules at the start of the meeting.
  • Be flexible. Prepare for a scenario where you do not get through all the material you plan to – discussion almost always takes longer than expected.


  • Summarise and distribute the outcomes, preferably in the same places where you advertised the meeting. This will help the community feel like it was heard and its time was respected.

Also see: