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Zooming Better Together

Our virtual patient summit included something handy: a lesson in how to master the online meeting.

Zoom call screenshot from 2020 patient summit

By now, most of us have attended a virtual meeting. But many would admit we haven’t mastered the art of being on camera for long stretches, avoiding technical glitches and truly connecting with others in this new way.

That’s why CSL Behring put “Making Real Connections in a Virtual World” on the agenda at last week’s meeting of CSL Behring patient advocates. The 64 patients – many of them friends who look forward to meeting in person – met up through Zoom this year instead. The patients represent a range of rare and serious diseases such as primary immunodeficiency, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, hereditary angioedema (HAE) and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP).

Hosted by CSL Behring’s Patient Engagement team, the patient summit has been an annual event since 2018. The summit aims to help patients connect, share experiences and draw inspiration from one another. This year was no different, even though it was virtual, said CSL Behring’s Director of Reimbursement and Patient Engagement Dina Inverso.

“Despite the challenges of COVID and our inability to be together in King of Prussia  – our patient advocates rose above the adversity and we came together virtually for a common goal of sharing experiences and learning new virtual skills,” Inverso said. “We continue our patient engagement mission to help other patients along their journeys.”

Throughout the year, the advocates share their stories with other patients to offer encouragement and help them learn to manage complex conditions. Because patient events will be virtual for the foreseeable future, it made sense to focus on-camera virtual presentations.

The patients learned tips for what to wear, how to sit, lighting, backgrounds, connecting with the audience and how to use your device’s camera to make eye contact with the viewer. Here are 10 best practices for presenting in an online event:

  1. Before the on-camera event, set your stage with a simple environment that’s clear of clutter. A plain background of a blank wall or curtains can work well. Blurring the background is another option.
  2. Get the technical aspects squared away and find out how much time you’ll have, who will introduce you, what the audience will see and if you will be able to see the audience.
  3. Log in early, relax and breathe. Have anything you might need (water, a tissue) nearby.
  4. Use the combination of your body language, eye contact and voice to deliver your message.
  5. Speak naturally but enunciate. When presenting, don’t be afraid to pause.
  6. Dress in solid colors with simple accessories.
  7. Set up your device so that the camera is at eye level. Use a few books to boost your laptop.
  8. Sit back in your chair, position the camera so your shoulders are in view and you have ample headroom.
  9. Light yourself from the front, not from the back. Some options: Face a window, place lamps on either side of monitor, add indirect lighting behind monitor and use lampshades to soften the glare.
  10. Will you take questions? Focus on what the questioner is asking and try not to jump in before the person is finished. If you get a yes-no question, be ready to elaborate a little. And if you get a question you aren’t sure about, it’s OK to pause a moment to think before answering.