With the recent announcement of a Lockdown 3.0 in England and the rest of the UK pretty much in the same situation, we can safely say that online events are here to stay for a while. In the third of our 'Technophobe' series we now are focussing on event speakers.
Whether you use a professional speaker, an expert in their field or someone from your organisation, the online stage is a whole new ball game!
While there is still an audience there is minimal, or no, audience reaction for them to respond to and interact with. It is harder to engage the delegates, get them involved and get immediate feedback.
Where once there was a stage to walk around there is now just their office/kitchen/dining room to present from and, as they will only have a webcam, moving around is restricted somewhat!
A one-hour programme slot may not do so well online – your speaker is competing with delegates’ multitude of home distractions (even if it is just the washing up!)
There are a number of options we have found work when helping guide our event speakers online. We hope they are useful to you – let us know what you think
The devil is in the detail
Let your speaker know as much about the event as you can and refer to the online platform as a venue - both will help make the experience more relatable.
- Provide clear briefings detailing what they need to know. Make sure you explain about the event, the platform, any additional technology and the audience profile
- Don’t assume they know how to use the technology you are providing. Host demonstration sessions so everyone gets familiar (and comfortable) with what they need to do and what functionality is available to them
- Check everyone is on the recommended browser and device for the platform. Some platforms aren’t supported by certain browers or devices; functionality is reduced or it simply won't work
- Make sure you have rehearsals and during the rehearsals make sure everyone is on the device and browser they will be using at the event. This way you can replicate as much as possible and iron out any niggles
- If you have a panel session or an interview format, make sure participants meet beforehand and can rehearse together to enable them to line up their approaches and check their messages are in sync
- Think aesthetics – what will be in the background of their shot? what is the lighting like? do they need to plug into the internet? All of these elements will help speakers get comfortable too
Get a reaction
Speakers will need to recreate audience engagement in a non-visual way as it is unlikely they will be able to see their audience, or if they can, only a proportion.
- Encourage them to use the engagement options available on the platform so they can see immediate audience reaction. It maybe that messages usually presented in person may not translate as well to an online audience
- Integrate an app such as Slido or Mentimeter to get real-time responses to questions and scenarios. Polls and word clouds are great ways to gauge the audience feeling and participation levels. The responses will give the speaker that instant feedback to be able to flex their presentation
- Ask for questions or comments and see responses come up in an in-built chat function or encourage questions in the question pane. This way they can answer throughout the session or save up for the end
Death by PowerPoint
We’ve all been there and seen it done at one time or another! While PowerPoint (or equivalent) definitely has its moment why not encourage your speakers to try something new?
- Due to the number of distractions at home it is critical that your speakers’ sessions keep the audience’s attention. Switch up the presenting style and keep sessions brief and to the point
- To supplement the content consider integrating video, photo montages, graphs, infographics – much more visually appealing than a list of bullet points!
- Why not change the presentation style as well so not everyone is plenary. We have worked with clients to deliver debates, panel discussions, showcase case studies, interviews and many more different styles
We would highly recommend engaging an event host or compere to take additional pressure off your speakers - you don't want them panicking about if they need to deliver housekeeping messages or keep an eye on questions coming in!
- As well as making introductions, your host can monitor the chat and questions enabling speakers to stay focussed
- Hosts can also jump in and ad lib if there are any technical issues
- They can share messages for the audience, moderate panel debates, thank speakers for attending, and more. If you have a good one they are worth their weight in gold!
By making your event speakers comfortable and providing the support they need, the transition to online events will be easier. This will, in turn, improve the attendee experience to better engage with the content and share their experience.
ZiaBia is an events consultancy with experience delivering both face to face and online events for clients of all sizes, in locations around the globe. If you would like to have a more in-depth chat with us about how else we have worked with our event speakers with the switch to online then we look forward to hearing from you.