While lockdown has eased, the impact of the coronavirus will be felt in the events industry for months, even years to come. With concerns over health and the environmental impact of travel it is likely that the new-found popularity of virtual events will continue to grow.
This poses a challenge for professional speakers, the talent who ultimate spearhead the event experience, who have had key tools taken away from them: audience feedback, rapport, and leveraging the group dynamic.
The main issue a speaker faces presenting to a virtual audience is the lack of feedback. The group dynamic which gives the best events their buoyancy is dissipated by the disconnection of remote viewing. How can you tell if your points are going across, or if your audience is engaged?
Virtual platforms present an opportunity to adapt, and there are strategies we can deploy to reduce the chances that virtual delegates will open a new window in their browser to check Reddit, or wander off to make a cup of tea during your presentation.
Preparation is key.
The virtual format requires us to redefine the role of professional speaker. The responsibilities under your umbrella of influence have expanded. As a key point of engagement, your role becomes equally important pre-event, with on-boarding activities and hype-building, and extends beyond the end of the event into a support role.
A dedicated speaker should be involved in the development and adaptation of their content, jumping at the opportunity to be introduced to your audience ahead of the event to foster meaningful relationships. Pre-event interaction is a valuable chance to on-board viewers and whet their appetite for what awaits them.
If all goes well with your pre-event prep, you will feel the benefits on the day: a well-prepared and engaged audience who have their expectations for your discussion set.
On the point of those expectations…
Subvert expectations on the day.
Nothing holds an audience’s attention like surprise and delight tactics. You’ve laid the groundwork; your viewers are interested in your topic and they’ve tuned in to see what you’ve got. They think they know what they’re in for: subvert those expectations and see engagement rates rise.
How you do this will depend on your content, though approaching your topic in a novel way which your audience has never seen before is a good starting point. Leave your delegates entertained by your content and engaged in this new process.
Embed learnings from the day.
Your talk has wrapped. Numbers and engagement were great. But without the buzz of the room, shaking hands and conversing with others afterwards, it feels like something is missing.
Here’s where you should get stuck into some post-event embedding activity. Delve into the forums, respond to Q&As, and make meaningful connections with the people who took the time to participate. By doing so you will ensure that they leave satisfied with the experience and carrying the key takeaways of your session in their minds.
The rules of engagement have changed, but with this strategy in place, which extends your contact with your audience and deepens their connection to your content, your virtual presentation will be a piece of cake.
If you are a professional speaker, or have a virtual presentation coming up and would like some assistance, our team would be happy to help.