How To Be A Better Virtual Event Speaker


No votes yet

How To Be A Better Virtual Event Speaker

The world’s workforce is in the middle of the largest work-from-home experiment ever. Among other things, virtual events have become a way of life. From symposiums to conferences and product demonstrations, virtual events have become a viable venue for showcasing industry leadership.

Virtual events allow companies to reach potential clients and create new connections, regardless of distance or time difference. However, if you personally want to take direct advantage of the benefits of virtual events, you first need to be a good speaker

In a virtual event, you are constrained by the size of your screen and your every movement is magnified by your proximity to the camera. That requires you to adjust your approach. This article will look at how you can become a better virtual event speaker.  

Test Your Material

To ensure that everyone during the event has their ears and eyes on you, you must ensure your presentation is engaging. That’s why you need to test your material.

It helps to practice public speaking. Speaking in front of a mirror with a stopwatch in hand will give you a good idea of the amount of time it will take to deliver your talk. You can also test your material in front of your friends and family and ask them to suggest ways you can improve your presentation. 

Additionally, you need to check your equipment before the event. Any poor quality audio, video interference, or a “can you hear me” scenario might result in you losing your audience.

Everything that you use to participate in the event has to be working as it should.

Lastly, be sure to check the internet connection and have another connection handy in case you encounter issues. There’s nothing worse than having a technical issue arise that causes havoc.

I’ve done some eCommerce speaking events about how to start an online business, and know as well as you how nerve-racking it is when something goes wrong technically. You want to plan and test to avoid these issues.

Mind the Body Language and Facial Cues

Since you’re not in the same place as your audience, you need to be mindful of your body language and facial cues. Your non-verbal cues are key to keeping your audience engaged. If they don’t see some movement in your presentation, they are likely to lose attention or leave your event altogether.   

If you are supposed to sit during the event, your chair should be comfortable and not obtrusive. If you plan to stand and move around, there should be nothing on the floor to obstruct your movement.

Very importantly, keep your eyes looking at the camera and not the computer screen.

Molly Fletcher, a motivational speaker, is very good at this. During her monthly “coaching cuddles,” Molly always makes her audience feel like she’s talking to them directly and in person.

Source: Molly Fletcher YouTube

Her eyes are always looking straight at the camera. She also uses facial expressions to make the audience “feel” what she’s saying. Once in a while, she makes hand gestures to emphasize a point.   

Proper lighting will help your audience see your facial expressions. Sitting in front of a window will give you good natural lighting. But be aware of potential weather, sun/shade, and time of day changes. Adding another light source in front of you is a good idea.

Keep People Engaged 

People attending a virtual event are one click away from a funny video of a cat, newspaper, or any other internet distractions. Your content needs to be engaging.

One way to keep people engaged is to vary what you share in your presentation.

You could insert funny or unexpected slides in a presentation. Such slides act as a pattern interrupt. They make people laugh or wonder what is going on.

Source: Bored Panda

These elements of a presentation help keep the audience engaged.

You can also include personal anecdotes in your presentation. For example, you might discuss how you started an online business and the mistakes you made along the way. Those personal anecdotes will make your presentation more memorable.

Alternatively, you might engage your audience by making them answer questions.

Dress Sharp

Believe it or not, the way you dress can impact how you think. Researchers have found a link between your dressing sense and performance. According to the study, wearing a formal suit can enhance your ability to reason abstractly.

If you want to know more about the impact of clothing on how you think, be sure to read about enclothed cognition. But that’s not the only reason you should dress appropriately during a presentation.

People naturally judge a book by its cover.

If you show up with a sleeveless shirt and shorts to a presentation, people won’t take you seriously, even if it’s a virtual event. In their minds, you’re not taking the presentation seriously either.

The appropriate clothing for you will depend on the event.

Wear the same type of clothes for a virtual event as you would for an in-person event. Your speaking engagement is still a public event. Don’t dress any differently just because it’s virtual.

Take a look at how James Taylor dresses up for his virtual workshops:

Source: James Taylor

Even if he’s probably just in a home studio, he’s wearing a formal suit and even has a pocket square, which is historically used at dinner parties and other formal engagements. His hair is all fixed, too!

You can see he’s spent time on his appearance. The dress sense reflects the brand image he is trying to portray. 

Use Multiple Monitors

As a virtual event speaker, you may well have a presentation prepared for the audience. You want to be able to show that presentation. At the same time, though, you want to show your face as you’re talking to your audience.

If your viewers don’t see your facial cues and hand gestures, they might end up getting bored just looking at the slides.

Here’s where using multiple monitors can help. You can have one monitor for the slides and a second monitor where you handle the webinar. That’s exactly how Dave Paradi, who has delivered customized workshops and presentations—both virtually and in person—to business professionals for over 20 years, does it:

Source: Think Outside the Slide

He has a large monitor for his presentation.

The laptop beside it has a camera that is focused on Dave’s face as he speaks. Once that setup is in place, this is what his viewers see:

With this setup, Dave can easily switch views.

He can make himself the primary focus. Alternatively, he can put the presentation in the background so people can focus on him and what he is saying.

Pay Attention to the Background

Speaking at a virtual event does not only entail talking and looking at the camera. You need to have a good background that will help set the mood throughout your event, too. Don’t show your viewers your messy room or your kitchen sink filled with dirty plates. 

Apple is known for showing larger-than-life backgrounds during its virtual events. But that’s because that’s what Apple is all about. Apple equals technology.

Source: Apple

You don’t have to do that for your speaking engagement. A clean, white wall will do. Make sure everything behind you is organized and frames your face nicely. It shouldn’t serve as a distraction to viewers. 

Bottom Line

As a speaker at a virtual event, you have a lot of work to do. It’s already hard to get people to listen to you in a live presentation, and it’s even tougher to get your audience’s attention when they’re not in the same room as you. 

To reduce the chances of anything going wrong, rehearse your talk. When presenting, mind your body language and your facial cues. Use multiple computers, add video elements, and pay attention to your background. Don’t forget to dress for the kill either.

Follow these tips and you’ll become a better virtual event speaker. You’ll engage your viewers throughout your presentation, and at the end of your talk, there will be a greater chance of them taking your desired action.

About the author:

Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO of Shift4Shop, a completely free, enterprise-grade ecommerce solution. He's dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.


No votes yet


See also:

  • How to Be a More Engaging Speaker

    How to Be a More Engaging Speaker

  • Being a webinar host

    The do's & don'ts of being a webinar host

  • What Makes a Strong Motivational Speaker

    What Makes a Strong Motivational Speaker?