Switching up your speaking strategy can be a daunting task—especially when it calls for shifting away from being on stage, and toward being on screen. In this time of extreme global uncertainty, many conferences and events are either being canceled, postponed, or moving to virtual—from Facebook’s F8, to Google’s Cloud Next, to Austin’s famed SXSW as reported by cred. Of course our own events being cancelled or postponed also – bringing us to host our upcoming Global Virtual Women Thrive Summit this April. As the events industry looks to tackle the challenges wrought by COVID-19, the question stands: how can speakers stay ahead of the curve while also doing their part to flatten it?
From podcasts to webinars to live streams, speaking engagements are increasingly pivoting from physical to virtual events—offering a cost effective, eco-friendly, and flexible alternative for speakers looking to maintain their thought leadership and connect with broader global audiences. As speakers shift from real-life to remote, it is important to note that speaking virtually requires a few different skills.
Our upcoming Women Thrive Summit Speaker Caitlin Bartley has compiled four fundamental tips on how speakers can prepare to connect with their virtual audiences and maximize event outcomes through engaging virtual opportunities.
1. Set the right stage. Create an environment that is appropriate for recording. Make sure to remove any visual and audible background distractions—no matter how cute they are. Similar to being on stage at physical events, you want to keep the focus on you and not give the audience a reason to take their eyes or ears away from what you’re saying.
In addition, ever encounter the dreaded conference call snafu in the form of dogs barking, poor Internet connections, or heavy breathing? When curating the right environment, be mindful of the virtual platform you’re using and how to make it work for you. Platforms such as WebEx and GoToMeeting offer hosts the ability to mute all participants during presentations and avoid the risk of distracting background noises coming from the audience.
2. Design a presentation they’ll remember. Studies show speakers are increasingly leveraging visually-pleasing images to complement their data points in slides. As you put together your slides, take note to simplify your content and be mindful of links, videos, and images you’re including in your presentation. Platforms such as Canva, Slideshare, and Prezi all volunteer helpful templates and features to help ensure your imagery mirrors the quality of your content.
3. Acknowledge the room. “Out of sight” does not always warrant “out of mind.” Remember to engage your audience as much as you can—whether by conducting audience Q&A at the end of your presentation or hosting a series of polls throughout your session to stimulate audience participation and activity. Zoom offers a polling feature, allowing hosts to create a single or multiple choice poll during their webinars. If your presentation will last longer than an hour, leveraging polls will help break up your content and get live feedback, insights, and opinions from your audience
4. Record, replay, and revise. Always make sure to learn from your last experience. Take time to play back your recording and keep track of any nervous ticks or habits you can identify on the way. Could you tone down on the hand gestures? How many “um”s did you catch in between sentences? Where in your presentation can you adjust the pace? Identifying what sounds natural to you will boost how confident you come across when presenting to a virtual audience.
Take this time to explore useful mobile apps including LikeSo, an app that provides real-time analysis of your speech fitness, filler words, and pacing, and Voice Analyst, which allows you to zoom in on any part of the recording to further analyze, as well as share your recordings by email, messaging, and AirDrop. Master the power of your own voice to sound as confident as you would on stage.
Many organizations have already been putting increased focus on digital and virtual events, and during this time of social distancing, it is more important than ever to prepare for changes in how we conduct our daily lives and connect with audiences. As speakers look to pivot their thought leadership and storytelling to virtual formats, we’re excited to see—and be a part of—the creative ways they are taking the stage.
Original article published on cred website here.
CEO & Executive Director
Caitlin runs cred, a boutique communications agency connecting some of the most innovative minds to speaking opportunities. cred works with clients to secure targeted speaking opportunities for individuals and businesses, and to help host their own events. To date, cred has worked with hundreds of clients across industries to build their brands and thought-leadership through 2,500+ industry conferences and events globally.