Finding a Speaker For a Virtual Event

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of virtual events has spiked – and so has demand for speakers. Virtual events provide greater convenience and flexibility for all parties, from the keynote speaker to attendees, and can often bolster your attendance figures and provide a more cost-effective method of hosting an event.

However, hosting a virtual event can present a unique set of challenges. Even the best in-person speaker may struggle to deliver an engaging speech within the confines of the digital realm. In this guide, we’ll explore whether a virtual event is right for you – and what skills your speaker needs to succeed with a remote audience.

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Why Choose a Virtual Event?

The fantastic thing about virtual events is their accessibility – both for the organiser and those in attendance. For in-person events, attendance is often limited by time, travel, and the capacity limits of the venue itself. With virtual events, these geographic barriers are removed, often making it more financially and logistically viable for attendees to commit and opening your event up to guests from all over the country, or even international attendees. This often means a sharp rise in both attendance figures and inclusivity, particularly for disabled attendees or speakers – and with virtual events, scaling your event to meet the requirements of your audience size is a far simpler task.

This flexibility applies to speakers, too. For in-person events, a time commitment is often required, particularly if long-distance travel is necessary to get to the venue. This can limit other opportunities the speaker may have. However, with virtual events, there are no associated travel costs, and the time commitment is greatly lessened, often meaning the speaker may be available at times they previously couldn’t commit to.

Additionally, not all virtual events have to be completely live. This allows the speaker to pre-record parts, or all, of their speech, allowing for additional takes and editing until they are satisfied with their presentation and adding an extra layer of polish to the proceedings.

For organisers, virtual events often present a more budget-friendly option, limiting the amount of money spent on extra necessities such as food options and staffing. You also eliminate costly venue hire fees, and in some cases, the speaker may be willing to charge less for virtual appearances, helping you cut down on speaker costs and allowing you to book a speaker in higher demand than available to your budget previously.

Post-event, there are still benefits to be found when hosting a virtual event. Many organisers have found that they can use the event recording as a ‘catch-up’ option for staff members who cannot attend or are in a different time zone. Additionally, most virtual event hosting platforms provide comprehensive analytics tools that will allow you to assess your event after the fact, providing an opportunity to fine-tune your approach next time based on facts and figures. This could be particularly useful if you’re looking to follow up with attendees after the fact for marketing or feedback.

Technological Requirements

Whilst virtual events can offer a reprieve from the logistic requirements needed to organise an in-person event, they still present a host of requirements of their own – and chief among them is the technology you choose to use. To make an event a success, you need to make sure you choose a reliable hosting platform capable of handling the needs of your event, including the volume of attendees.

There are many such options on the market, and like anything else, technology can fail and cause issues such as lag, poor connection, and audio issues. To prevent glitches, you need to make sure both organisers and speakers are well-versed in the platform you choose to use and able to quickly troubleshoot any last-minute issues, ensuring a glitch-free experience for the audience.

Take some time to familiarise yourself with your platform of choice, learn the features, and perhaps even do a test run before the event to ensure there are no issues on the day that might detract from the experience you are trying to create.

What Skills Does a Virtual Speaker Require?

Your speaker can elevate your event and create a long-lasting impression on your audience, so getting it right is imperative for your virtual event’s success. We’ve spoken before about the importance of choosing the right speaker for your event, and our advice still applies to virtual event organisers – however, there’s an extra layer of consideration you should be thinking about.

For virtual events, the speaker’s communication style needs to adapt to suit the setting. This means relying more heavily on visual communication skills. For virtual events, the audience’s attention span is greatly reduced. It can be tempting to leave the event on for background noise, open another tab, or check your phone in a way that would be considered rude in person – but harmless when not disrupting the digital presentation. Your speaker should be well-versed in using visual cues, interactive slides, or varying their speech to capture – and retain- the audience’s focus.

Similarly, a hallmark of a great speaker is their ability to engage with their audience. For virtual events, however, that in-person connection needs to be cultivated with care, and can mean a reduced level of audience participation and some awkward silences when your speaker pauses for questions or discussion. Even the most talented in-person speaker can fall victim to this. Ask your speaker about their experiences combating this in the past, and be ready to present ideas of your own, such as incorporating polls, live Q&A sessions, and more opportunities for the audience to offer their perspective. You may want to think about utilising a chat feature to monitor attendee feedback live, too.

Planning Your Virtual Event

In the digital realm, speakers play just as vital a role in shaping the success of your event as they do in person. Whilst virtual events do present their challenges, there are marked benefits in planning an online experience for your audience and finding a speaker who can deliver. For more information, please get in touch with our team for help, support, and advice.

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