Help! Somebody Moved My Stage! A Few More Thoughts on Virtual Events (Part 4)

A good presenter both knows and feeds off their audience. Of course, content is king, but the speaker needs to bring “personality plus” to the stage. The best speakers are, to a degree, performance artists motivated (even if it’s of the nervous variety) by your attendees. Sadly, your top speakers may fall flat when they’re recorded and/or livestreamed from their workstation.

Shortly after the onset of the pandemic and corresponding move from in-person to virtual, companies began reassessing their speakers. Which were meant for the stage? Who is a screen actor? “For love of Sir Laurence Olivier, do we have any unicorns?”

Virtual? Hybrid? “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. Ah, Shakespeare, such a prescient line and perhaps more so than the obvious. Let’s switch our focus from speakers and stare at the last word: ‘players’. Your audience is comprised of people who, outside of work hours (fingers crossed emoji), view screens as entertainment – be it streaming videos, gaming, or social media-ing (hey, everything can be a verb). What does this mean when it comes to best practices for virtual/hybrid events? Why the answer is simple in its complexity: Your attendees have the power in the form of a simple ‘click’.

Keep that in mind as you:

  • Identify and utilize speakers that present well on-screen (plus, breakdown recorded vs livestream).
  • Ensure there’s entertainment in their presentation!
  • Reduce presentation time. If 30 minutes can be done in 15, do so. If a half hour is needed, you might be better off with two 15-minute sessions.
  • Attention-seeking behavior is mandatory! Utilize social media and other marketing devices to create a buzz and inform your audience. Not only the who and what, but why they should attend your session.
  • Boring is boring. ‘Yawnfest 2021’ is not a strong session title. Engage the marketing team to make the didactic ‘spectactic’ (there, now that’s an adjective).
  • Don’t forget the pull. Not everyone will receive your push messages. Ensure the session description and speaker pic/bio are compelling enough to stand out from the other presentations taking place at the that time. What? No competitors? Do it anyway. Give potential attendees reasons to select your presentation.

Here’s my final thought: have fun with the above. If you can engage your team with a focus ensuring there’s a strong component of entertainment to online presentations, all will benefit – including your future attendees.