The events industry has largely shifted to virtual over the past year or so and while we’ve flirted with the return to live events, pockets of COVID-19 cases have meant that our path towards our eventual return remains foggy – for now.
All of that is just to say that virtual is here to stay, and as a new format for many event professionals, there has been a lot to learn in terms of how to deliver a valuable and engaging digital event.
Engaging attendees online has long been a struggle, and delivering high production value is key to doing so successfully – hence the rise of full-fledged, dedicated virtual production studios. But for many events, this task in large part falls to the speakers, many of whom are also adapting to new virtual formats.
Here’s how speakers can make sure they’re equipped with the right tech and best practices for their virtual sessions, and how planners can support them.
What Should Speakers Have in Their Live Streaming Tech Kit?
Audio is the most important factor to get right in a virtual session. It is very easy in our remote setting to drift into our emails, check on our social channels, etc. But either way, that audio is still going in the background.
A decent headset or microphone is therefore essential. Once audio is nailed down, speakers should turn their attention to lighting, then video. Speakers should start with what they have and upgrade when possible. Some events have also been shipping pre-prepared tech kits to speakers, which is another option that will help ensure consistency.
How Should Speakers Prepare for Virtual Event Sessions?
The most important thing for speakers to do is to experiment with different setups to find what works. A long-forgotten headset may sound much better than Airpods, for example, so it’s all about testing things out. It’s also a good idea to test the lighting at the time of day that they’ll be speaking at the event in order to get an accurate idea of the natural light.
Another way that speakers should prepare for their sessions is to practice their presentations so that when it comes to the actual virtual event, everything goes as smoothly as possible.
It is also critical for planners to designate a point of contact so that speakers have someone to reach out to if any issues arise. Speakers, in turn, should make sure they know who the contact is and how they can get in touch if needed.
When Is it Better to Pre-Record the Session?
One of the main challenges of pre-recorded sessions is that they are generally easy to spot and are more likely to be tuned out by attendees.
That said, pre-recorded sessions can help limit production issues, so they can help events achieve a higher production value if done right.
Another option is to include pre-recorded content in the context of simu-live sessions, during which speakers are available live to answer questions. In addition, pre-recorded sessions can be helpful to have as backup content in case anything goes wrong during the live sessions.
The transition to virtual events has required many planners to change the way they think about events, and speakers have similarly needed to get used to a new format and potentially unfamiliar tools.
As their job is to deliver most of the event’s content, it’s crucial for them to be well-prepared for the digital format, which can be achieved with adequate tech, practice, and support.