Five things to consider for planning and speaker management
1) Discuss the technology
Virtual event speakers should be asking planners about the nuances of the platform they’ll be using.
- Will they be able to see attendees?
- Will they be able to present and view questions simultaneously?
- How easy is it to upload or change content?
- Should slide design take into account the format of the screen layout?
These are just a few of the most common questions to anticipate from adept online event speakers.
If they don’t ask these or other questions about the technology they’ll be using, it may indicate their lack of experience presenting to virtual audiences.
Plan a series of briefing calls with speakers a few weeks out from the event to gauge their level of understanding and proficiency, provide as much detail as you can and help them to feel comfortable with how the event will operate.
2) Be clear on timings
Virtual event planners need to adopt a mindset similar to a television or radio producer when it comes to timings. Online audiences will tune in at certain times, potentially from across different timezones, and expect the advertised content.
Therefore, speakers need to be well drilled on how long they’ve got to speak and how long they’ve got to answer questions or to discuss audience poll results.
If you’ve booked a speaker who is renowned for going over their allotted slot, consider pre-recording their session so that it can be edited to the correct timings and then bring them online to answer moderated questions live.
Just remember, any pre-recorded sessions whereby the speaker then answers questions live will need to focus on consistencies, such as ensuring your speaker is wearing the same clothes.
3) Get the most out of your speakers
One reason experienced and sought-after virtual event speakers accept invitations to present online is because they’re looking to develop their own personal brands or have something they wish to promote. So make sure you offer them more than just a speaker slot. Help them to achieve their goals by involving them in pre-recorded event promos, or post-session interviews.
It will provide you with on-demand content, which can then be used to drive traffic to your website, promote future activity and build community.
Share extra speaker content and behind-the-scenes interviews across social media channels in the knowledge that speakers will re-share it to their audience base, helping to build your brand alongside their own.
4) Think live & schedule rehearsals
If you’re pre-recording speaker presentations, there is a small amount of scope for things to go wrong or adjustments to be made in the final edit – although no video editor will thank you if they have to do anything more than a light edit, so stress to presenters and panellists that they should perform as if it was live, even in a pre-record.
If the session is being delivered on the day, insist on a rehearsal. Virtual events demand more attention to detail and hence rehearsals play a vital role in the success of your event.
Elements to focus on during rehearsals:
- How do speakers look and sound on camera? Consider their attire, backdrop, lighting, volume and screen positioning.
- Do timings work? If a rehearsal flags up a presentation that is likely to overrun, work with the speaker to reduce the number of slides or make reduced content more engaging.
- Are slides readable and designed for the presentation platform? Consider how the viewer sees the screen. Do slides need to allow white space for the presenter’s image to fit the screen? Is the font size large enough? Are graphs and charts clear? Do embedded videos play full-screen?
- Rehearse the running order fully so that you know where potential problems lie and can put in place contingency plans in case speaker wifi goes down, mics fail or technical issues occur.
5) Say thank-you
Finally, don’t forget to thank virtual event speakers afterwards. At in-person events, you may have taken them out for dinner or spent time with them at the bar. When they’re remote, it’s too easy to forget to follow-up once their part is played.
Why not arrange for a thank-you gift to be delivered the day after the event and schedule social media posts applauding their involvement.