For any organization that is producing a virtual conference or event, you have plenty to worry about. Making sure that your attendees are registered, sponsors are appreciated, and that the program is topnotch is long, hard work. You certainly don’t want the added burden of teaching your speakers how to present to your attendees.
We started these virtual speaker tips and tricks for our first hybrid event in 2008 and have been refining and rewriting them ever since. When Covid-19 began its slow spread across the globe causing most of our clients to pivot to virtual, we thought it would be a good time to dust them off and refresh them for organizations to use and adapt because, as the overused saying goes, we are all in this together.
At the bottom of this post, there is a form to get this information as a ready to send, PDF.
Virtual Presentation Tips and Tricks
Thank you for speaking at our upcoming virtual event. Presenting at a virtual conference is much different than presenting at a live in-person event so we have created these tips and tricks to help you understand how to make the most of your experience.
Know the platform:
Trying to learn new technology in the heat of the moment is like learning to fly when the pilot passes out. It usually does not end well for anyone involved. Make sure that you have a firm grasp on any technologies that will be involved in your presentation. This not only applies to the video platform but to any audience response or networking tech, even if you will not be directly involved in its operation.
Your connection to the internet matters. If possible, connect directly to your modem/router via an Ethernet cable for the fastest possible video streaming speeds. If you must be on WiFi, minimize the impact of other devices by making sure no one is watching Netflix or downloading large files.
We have all seen the BBC news segment where the guest speaker was interrupted by his kids wandering into the shot. Most people had sympathy for him, but in the moment, he was probably having a nervous breakdown. Avoid these situations by turning off your cell phone, silencing computer notifications, email pop-ups, and by letting everyone in your home or office know that you are presenting and cannot be disturbed.
Upgrade your camera:
The camera on your laptop was built for having chats with your office team or an evening Zoom with friends. If possible, you are going to want to upgrade. There are many affordable, plug and play webcams from Microsoft or Logitech that will make an immediate difference in your video quality.
Raise your camera or computer:
Camera angles matter. Make sure you look your best by raising your camera or computer to eye level to give the appearance that you are looking straight at the viewer.
Watch your background:
Backgrounds matter. Think about what will be in the visible frame. Will attendees see a nice uncluttered bookshelf with some flowers or will they see a pile of clothes on an unmade bed. Your background does not need to be green screen extravagant but it should not be distracting to the viewer.
Stand up when speaking:
Since you are already raising your computer or camera, you might as well go up a couple more feet to standing level. Standing while giving a presentation allows you to speak with authority and be more focused.
Imagine Your audience:
Speaking to video is not like speaking to a live audience at a hotel or conference center, in fact, it is the exact opposite. Because it is more intimate, you will not receive audience cues like laughter or clapping. Instead of speaking to a thousand people, act as if you are speaking to one person. Pepper your presentation with the words you and us. Make that one person feel like they are the only person on earth. In doing so, you will impact the lives of every person that is attending or that watch later.
The most important part of video is audio so do not use the built in speakers and microphones on your computer. Invest in headphones and a microphone. Headphones will also help you block out any noise distractions from a garbage truck on the street or plane flying overhead.
Adjust your lighting:
If the most important part of video is audio, lighting is a close second. Sit facing your lightsource. A well lit window has lots of natural light which will make you look human. For a more professional look, create a three point lighting set up. Imagine sitting on a clock facing twelve. Place lights at ten and two and have one above you or in front.
Dress for success:
Professionals come in all shapes, sizes, and even t-shirts. Dressing for success means wearing something that will make you feel confident. Avoid noisy patterns and colors that might render poorly on video. This is especially true if you are using a green-screen.
Speak with your eyes:
The camera you use are the eyes of the attendees. That is where you should look. Try to avoid watching yourself on your screen.
Unless you are giving a technical presentation, avoid slides or stick to images with few words. If it is bad for a speaker to recite directly from their deck at a live event, it is a hundred times worse in a virtual setting.
Moderating a Panel:
Panel moderators should connect with panelists before the session and insist on a rehearsal so that everyone understands the order and what is expected of them. Rather than introducing each speaker with their bio, weave brief snippets of their expertise into the opening of the session.
We hope that these tips make you more comfortable so that you can concentrate on delivering your expertise!
No need to copy and paste
These are the basic tips and tricks we give to every presenter and work well for most scenarios including online conferences or virtual town halls. Depending on your unique situation, you might want to change them, for example, if our client’s conference was heavy with panel sessions, we might work with them to create a version specifically tailored to moderators and one for panelists.
Sign up below to receive our weekly updates and a PDF version of these tips that you can send to speakers and moderators. This PDF uses images and generic language that is applicable to most audiences.
i3 Events works with small and medium sized associations and organizations across the globe and would be excited to learn more about your unique program. Visit our Virtual Event page to learn more.