5 Speaker Tips and Best Practices for Your Virtual Events

July 1, 2020

Laurie Powell

Laurie Powell is vice president of business development at eventPower, a company providing conference management services and cloud-based collaborative software tools for conferences and events.

In the past four months, events have radically shifted from in-person gatherings to virtual events. Speakers play an integral role and can make or break the attendee experience. Understanding the importance presenters play into this dynamic, here are some tips for helping you to create a positive virtual experience for your attendees. 

1. Test, Test, Test

To ensure everything runs smoothly, schedule a rehearsal with your speakers.  Here is a short checklist of items to practice:

  • Test microphone and audio to confirm optimum sound.
  • Test lighting (i.e., not sitting with back to a window).
  • Test Internet connection (i.e., consider sitting close to your router).
  • Test Zoom, YouTube or video webinar platform settings.
  • Confirm presentation area is quiet and will remain that way for duration of the presentation.
  • Test their presentation timing. Ensure they have plenty of time remaining to answer Q&A.

2. Moderator + Co-Host = Success

Having a moderator and co-host adds structure to your session. Your moderator and co-host can handle technical problems, housekeeping notes, keep the session flowing and take over in case either person experiences a poor Internet connection. Having both a moderator and co-host are essential to the success of your virtual event, allowing your speakers to focus on presenting.

3. Shorten Session Lengths

Many speakers may think presenting during live events is the same as presenting virtually, but speaking virtually comes with new territory. It is essential to keep your audience engaged. Attendees are more likely to show up for a session that is shorter. Consider condensing the session times you would typically host for your in-person event by 15 or 30 minutes. For example, a 60-minute breakout session should be no more than 45 minutes when delivered online.  

4. Use Platform Engagement Tools

Set yourself apart by incorporating engagement tools during your virtual event. Here are a few engagement tools to consider: 

  • Polls
  • Contests
  • Videos
  • Chat 
  • Drawing tools
  • Q&As
  • Gamification
  • Social media hashtags

5. Don’t Forget About Fun

Providing a fun atmosphere can help you create a lasting impression. Simply relax, smile and laugh. Encourage your attendees to have fun with you.  

Remember to be creative; use event-themed virtual backgrounds that allow you to display an image as your background. This can help you maintain the theme of your event and reduce distractions. For example, if your event was being hosted in Nashville, you could use an image of the Grand Ole Opry.

You may also consider asking participants to share a fun icebreaker to start your session, which can encourage more communication and engagement from the beginning.

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