By Andrew Tarvin and The Team at Premiere Speakers
There is no way to capture the magic of an in-person event, but that doesn’t mean that a virtual experience can’t be magical in its own right. All it takes is the right people, the right technology, and the right plan. If you’ve decided to move forward with a virtual experience, here are a few tips that may help you with the process:
Pick the right technology.
There’s no one technology that is perfect for all events. If you have a massive audience (1,000+) and interaction isn’t a focus, a Facebook or YouTube live stream is probably your best bet. You can make a Youtube live stream unlisted if you would like to keep it private to just people with the link. If your audience is smaller, and you’re looking for more interactive components, Zoom is currently the top choice among most organizations. More event-specific platforms to check out are Hopin and Run The World. We have a full list with links to virtual platforms at the bottom of this article.
Pick the right presenters.
Suffice to say that fantastic in-person speakers don’t necessarily make fantastic virtual speakers (though many do). Make sure the speakers you select have experience presenting virtually, are familiar with the technology, and know-how to engage a remote audience (via compelling stories, interesting visuals, interactive chat, and more).
Create the right presentation environment.
Don’t just rely on a presenter sitting down in front of their laptop webcam at their kitchen table and expect the presentation to be compelling. Make sure the presenter has a high-quality camera, professional-level audio, and high-speed ethernet access. Nothing ruins a virtual presentation worse than bad audio or audio that is so out of sync with the video that you feel like you’re in an old school martial arts film. Ideally, the presenter would also have an on-site producer to manage video feeds, and if you are able, be sure to also have a virtual emcee to manage questions and maintain interaction in the chat.
A few requests to ask from your presenter:
- What time zone are they in?
- What location will they present from? (home office, recording studio, workplace, etc.
- Schedule a time for a test / run through and make sure the presenter tests from the exact location they will be during the event to check lighting and background
- What type of visual aids do you use? Powerpoint, videos, props, etc. Make sure these are tested as well
Use a variety of presentation formats.
A person speaking to a camera and talking over slides is only one style of a virtual presentation. Consider which option will work best for your topic, audience, and technical setup. If you have multiple presenters throughout the day, consider using a variety of styles to keep the content fresh.
Leverage interaction as much as possible.
If people just wanted pre-recorded content, they would watch TED talks, Netflix, or the recording of the event at a later date. But people want a community experience, so create one. Every attendee is sitting in front of their computer (or smartphone), which means they can easily ask questions without disrupting the speaker, they can fill in polls, provide instantaneous feedback, connect with others in breakout rooms, post directly to social media, and engage as an entire community at once. Find ways to make the virtual event a community event.
We are currently experiencing an unprecedented challenge in the events industry that is not only impacting the individual events that were scheduled but also the lives and livelihood of everyone involved, from the meeting planners and event organizers to the speakers and emcees, to the members and attendees we all willingly serve.
Virtual events will never replace what makes our in-person events so great, but they can help bridge the gap in this time of need.
Virtual Platforms to consider:
Zoom (note the participant limits for the different tiers)
Demystifying Virtual Events and Production Tips:
Andrew Tarvin is a speaker and the CEO of Humor That Works, a consultancy based in New York City that helps organizations get better business results while having more fun. To learn more about Andrew visit his profile here.