Presenter Tips and Tricks for Your Best Virtual Event
May 18, 2020
Do you want to learn how to be a successful presenter at a virtual event? Or, maybe, you are an event planner and you’d like to know how to train your virtual presenters to create the best virtual experience?
If your answer to either of these questions is a resounding yes, you’re reading the right blog.
We’ve done our homework and found the best of the best practices for presenting at your next virtual event. (We’ve also included bonus training tips to help out all you event planners.)
Ready to dive in?
Now, you may be thinking, “I’ve presented dozens of times at huge live events. This isn’t my first rodeo.” Whether you are a brand new presenter or an old hat at it, here’s what could happen if you don’t properly prepare for your virtual presentation: You’ll lose your audience faster than you can say the word audience. And the worst part? You won’t know you’ve lost them until it’s too late.
We don’t want that to happen and neither do you. So how do you properly prepare to present to a virtual audience? Let’s break it down:
1. Choose Your Setting Wisely
Where you present from matters a lot! Assuming you don’t have a professional production crew to help, here’s what
Set up in a quiet space.
Your audience doesn’t want to see or hear your colleagues, family, or pets in the background. Be sure to let people know you are giving an important presentation so they’ll know to keep their noise level down.
Silence ALL your nearby devices and disable notifications.
From an attendee perspective, it is distracting to hear every messenger ping and text that you receive.
Choose a plain backdrop.
Remember, you want your audience to focus on you and the material you are presenting, not what’s behind you.
Front lighting on camera is key!
Your audience wants to see your face. For the best video quality, make sure the lighting is in front of you and there are no windows behind you.
2. What to Wear When Presenting on Camera
A question we most frequently hear from presenters is, “What should I wear?”. The short answer: Dress comfortably but dress for your intended audience. What we mean by this is if you are a CEO and your audience is 50,000 software developers, a nice blouse or button down would be appropriate in lieu of a suit. Here’s a few additional guidelines on how to dress on camera.
Wear solid colors.
Avoid green if you are being filmed in front of a green screen. Avoid stripes and patterns, if possible. TIP: Everyone looks good in light blue.
Avoid flashy jewelry.
Ladies, save your flashy bling for in-person events.
Don’t pull a Will Reeve.
Need we say more? Foregoing pants might help you go viral but you’ll likely put your audience off.
3. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Look at the camera.
This is how you make eye contact with your audience. Yes, it’s tough, especially when presenting from a laptop where there is a lot happening on-screen. But important!
Avoid excessive movement.
Is your presentation style to use your hands a lot? Then this tip is for you! Every movement is exaggerated on-camera and could distract your viewers so try to keep your body quiet as you present.
Never touch your face while on camera.
Ever had a pesky itch on your nose? DO NOT SCRATCH!
Avoid negative facial expressions!
This is particularly important if you are speaking on a panel. If you don’t like what another presenter is saying, try not to frown or roll your eyes. This might seem obvious, but we’ve seen it happen on numerous occasions and viewers definitely notice.
4. How to Deliver an Engaging Virtual Presentation
Are there hat tricks for engaging your virtual audience? Yes and no. In a virtual situation, attendees will always have distractions. Applying these techniques can go a long way in keeping your audience interested:
Start with an emotional story.
To be an effective presenter, face-to-face or virtual, you need to master the art of storytelling. So, tell your audience a story that’s meaningful to you and don’t be afraid to get emotional. Do this, and your audience will be hooked. You’ll also be more relaxed and primed to deliver a more powerful message. Check out some best practices for incorporating storytelling into presentations.
Engage early and often.
Make it fun from the start to reset your viewer’s expectations. Set a goal to get your attendees to interact twice within the first 5 minutes. Use polling or gamification tools available with your virtual engagement platform. Try to build in some type of interaction at least every 10 minutes and vary the types of polls and interactions. Be sure to make them valuable for your audience, rather than self-serving.
When you answer virtual Q&A, you may not be able to physically see your audience. When publicly answering questions, acknowledge who asked the question before answering. This will make the person feel included in the conversation. If you receive a question that you plan on answering later, let the person know you’ll be answering their question later so they don’t feel like you are ignoring them.
Pay close attention to chat.
If your virtual event platform has chat enabled for live stream or pre-recorded sessions, pay as much attention to chat comments as you do Q&A. In many situations, audiences feel more comfortable expressing themselves through chat instead of formal Q&A. This will give you a gauge on what your audience is truly thinking and feeling during your session.
Slides and Visuals.
Don’t feel like you have to show slides the entire time or at all. Use videos or other interactive visuals as alternatives. Sometimes, slides can’t be avoided so if you do decide to use them, think about how you would present the same information visually, without bullets.
How do you create engaging pre-recorded sessions?
If you feel more comfortable pre-recording your content than going live, there are still great opportunities to make your session engaging. For instance, you could make yourself available on chat during the pre-recorded session and then go live to answer Q&A at the end. You can even set up polls in advance to make your session feel live, even if your content is pre-recorded.
Keep track of time!
Just because your session is virtual does not mean you should go over your allotted time. Be courteous to your audience and other presenters and wrap-up your session on-time.
5. What Technology Do You Need?
Depending on what kind of virtual event you are speaking at and whether you have a video production team, the equipment you need can vary. Let’s assume you are presenting from your home or office. Here’s what we recommend:
A high-speed internet connection.
No internet connection is fool-proof, but with a faster connection, you’ll limit the change of poor audio, video, and your screen freezing up. This is especially important for live streaming. If you are using a laptop for your presentation, close out all non-essential applications while you are presenting.
In a virtual situation, audio trumps visuals. So, it’s worth investing in a quality microphone for your presentation instead of relying on your computer mic. Inexpensive options are the Boya by-M1 Clip-on Microphone or the Samsung Go Mic. If you do use your computer mic for input, mute your output speakers to avoid distracting feedback.
Video cameras for virtual.
Can you do your virtual presentation with a webcam? Certainly. But keep in mind that not all web cams are HD. For best results, choose a camera that outputs a clean HDMI signal. Consider Sony RX100 VII if you want to go high-end or Logitech Brio as a portable, less expensive option.
Virtual Event Software.
Have you ever heard of the term Zoom fatigue? As a speaker, you may not get a choice in your virtual event software. But if you do and if budget allows, consider options that take engagement to a new level and provide more lifelike experiences. Your audience will thank you.
6. Bonus Content! Presenter Training Tips for Virtual Event Planners
Are you an event planner? One of the many questions we get is how to train presenters for virtual events. If so, we promised some tips for training speakers for presenting at virtual events. Check them out below:
Tip 1: Use the content above to train your presenters.
Whether you are holding a formal training or not, we’ve created this post to be shared.
Tip 2: Hold live formal training sessions for your virtual event platform.
If you want everything to be flawless on the day of your event, you need practice sessions. It is critical that all of your presenters are trained on your virtual event software and they know how to go live, answer questions, chat, launch polls, etc. Be sure to go over simple settings like how to enable their computer audio and microphone. These are little things that can make a huge impact on the big day.
Tip 3: Make on-demand training content available.
In the event a presenter cannot be available for live training, have plenty of on-demand training available. Prepare a list of common questions and answers as a resource for your speakers. Look to your virtual event technology partner for help with this.
Tip 4: Ask speakers to adjust content for shorter sessions.
Have them scale back a 60-minute presentation to 30 or 45.
Tip 5: Get presenters loosened up beforehand.
The lights and cameras associated with studio productions are scary for most presenters. If you are using a professional production team for video capture, get your speakers laughing, talking and loosened up before taping or going live.
Tip 6: Show them where to get technical help.
Even with advance training, your presenters may still have questions the day of your event. Consider investing in an event concierge to assist your speakers and attendees.
We’ve given you the trick of the trade and the tools to be a successful virtual event presenter. Now get out there and deliver some awesome content!
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