Many speakers use tech in virtual sessions as a standard. But how much tech to use and the impact it has on attendees is something that should be explored to maximise speaker satisfaction scores.
Let’s look at some key considerations for virtual presenters.
What do you want your delegates to do?
This question may appear worthy only of a quick answer. Most speakers work hard to ensure that virtual attendees are engaged. But as a response, claiming you want engagement is too simplistic. What does it mean? It is important to drill deeper.
Ask yourself: what do you want your attendees to do? For example, do you want attendees to be seen and heard? Is that even possible? There are some tech platforms that enable this. But usually, virtual speakers will not see or hear the virtual audience.
Do you want attendees to take part in polls and send questions in?
Or do you simply want your attendees to do nothing more than sit back, and be present, enjoying your session?
You need to decide the path you want to take your attendees on. Once that is done, you can consider what tech will be required.
Is it practical?
Having decided how you will maximise the effectiveness of your session and having agreed with the event producer that it is possible, it makes sense to check whether it is practical.
There can be a big distance between possibility and practicality.
Practicality needs to be investigated. For example, expecting an attendee to be overjoyed at the thought of having to download another app to take part in your session is unlikely. However, being clear on the benefits of doing so will likely increase acceptance.
What about other requests you have that may seem minor? You want everyone to turn their cameras on. Is it practical? More to the point why? Some attendees will find it stressful, due to everyone seeing their homes, or they don’t want to be seen juggling animals and children. They can enjoy your presentation without needing to be live on screen.
Test the tech
You might not want to, but you must ensure the tech works. There is no shortcut. Testing is critical. And that means testing everything. Test the attendee user experience. Does it flow? Does it work? When things go wrong, it is often because the user journey hasn’t been road tested enough.
Test everything with the virtual host and make sure they know how the tech works. Is there a way of making the interaction between you and the host seamless? This is especially important when it comes to dealing effectively with poll results, questions, and chats.
And finally, as the speaker, you have to test. It is part of your job to know what you need to do. Sometimes a production company will manage the tech. On other occasions, you will need to master the tech to be used.
Do not get timed out
How much time do you have for your session? How much of that will you give to audience interaction? Polls, questions & answers segments and dealing with attendee comments always take more time than is envisaged.
It is a fine line between encouraging your delegates to get involved and inadvertently rushing them because the clock is ticking down and time is evaporating. It is very important that timing has been well considered, even more so if your session is audience interaction heavy.
One way forward is to rehearse the timings. Arrange for a test group to go through and send in questions, submit responses to polls etc. Find out how long it takes and how smooth the process is.
Speakers walk a fine tightrope when it comes to tech. Too much tech and you could turn attendees off. But too little tech and your session may not be as good as it could be. The key to this dilemma is to go back to basics. Understand the objectives, understand your audience, and ensure you are following the brief of the producer. With those thoughts in mind, you will get across your tightrope without falling off and landing in the safety net.
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