Speaker Best Practices for Digital Events

Photo taken by Vivid Ribbon Photography from The Wellness Summit 2019

Public speaking is daunting enough on its own. Now, imagine adding technology into the mix. Being a speaker at an event was never easy and now that events have transitioned to a digital space, the criteria to meet and exceed is exponentially larger and there is far more risk involved.

Intimidation be gone! Tycoon has put together some great tips and tricks to make sure speakers and presenters are set up to succeed in this digital event space that is here to stay!

Here are some of Tycoon’s recommendations – directed to you, speakers – for presenting to a virtual audience.

  • Digital event agenda suggestions:
    1. Breakout sessions should be:
      • Designed to tackle problems and provide solutions.
      • As specific as possible.
      • Avoid broad or ambiguous topics.
      • Based on the following format: proposal > evidence > action.
      • Dedicate ⅓ of the time to Q&A.
      • Pre-planned questions should kick off Q&A or 3 x seeded questions pre-planned.
      • Leave one piece of learning or one good story for the Q&A.
    2. Closing sessions (also referred to as the ‘lockout’):
      • Should reinforce why your event attendees do what they do; this is an opportunity to create a community.
      • Likely the session your audience will remember the most.
      • What three things do you want your audience to feel by the end of the event?

  • When engaging the audience, here are some things to think about.
    1. Decide how each session is going to end.
    2. Be clear on what action you want the audience to take at the end of each session.
    3. What are the three things the audience should walk away with after each session? Ask your audience! Put out a real-time poll.
    4. Bring the audience into the conversation.
    5. Options for interactivity and storytelling:
      • People decide if they are going to watch a live session within the first minute.
      • After that they give it 2 minutes before they click out, check out, or start multi-tasking.
      • Avoid spending the first three minutes on introductions and/or housekeeping.
      • Introduce yourself rather than having someone else do your introduction. This is more seamless and efficient!
      • Break a 30-minute session into 3 – 5-minute sessions; alternating between informative segments and inspirational or entertaining anecdotes, or real world examples.
      • Balance storytelling with learning.

  • Slide presentation recommendations:
    1. Limit each slide to one clear idea or topic.
    2. More frequent slide changes help keep virtual audiences engaged.
    3. Think about ‘visual boredom’.
    4. Use a variety of visual elements and do not stick to one type; allow attendees to ‘expect the unexpected!’.
    5. Provide a new visual every 30 to 60 seconds.
    6. Do not repeat more than three of the same type of visual in a row.
    7. Do not put any text in a slide that you are going to say; slides should be complementary and not redundant.
    8. Please, please, please do not read your slides. Pretty please!

  • Accessibility and inclusivity suggestions:
    1. For any written content on slides, ensure:
      • Fonts are easy to read (text is large and has good colour contrast).
      • Content is organized and uncluttered.
      • Meaningful headings are used.
    2. For images/videos, ensure:
      • They help explain concepts.
      • Alternative text and descriptions are included and/or they are verbally described.
      • Flashing or strobing animations are not used.
    3. Think about:
      • Reaching out to your local organization that works to support individuals with various disabilities to ensure that your presentation and content is accessible and inclusive.

  • For all content, ensure:
    1. Plain and people-first language is used (i.e., be mindful of jargon, slang, and assumed knowledge).
    2. Abbreviations and acronyms are explained.
    3. Sentences are kept short.
    4. Features and information are prioritized within the layout, helping attendees focus on core tasks.

  • Other points to consider:
    1. Can anything be pre-recorded should the connection fail?
    2. Polling can be used (please note, we will be providing more information on polling capabilities, interaction with the audience, moderation of polls, Q&A, etc. in the new year).
    3. Simulive is a great approach. Not only will this ensure that you have a pre-recorded presentation, but the delivery allows for maximum engagement in the sense that a speaker can speak to the audience while the presentation is being played and/or the speaker can be engaging with guests in conversations or questions that align with the presentation as it is played via the chat box feature.

  • How to ensure that you, as a speaker, are set up for success:
    1. Ensure that the event planner has shared the following with you:
      • Content strategy
      • Event goals
      • Audience goals
    2. Be aware of these best practices:
      • Have your webcam at eye level.
      • FYI: 2’ from the webcam is a good distance; this also has everyone zoomed at the same distance.
      • Lighting should be in front of you.
      • Face a large window if possible. You never want a window with light to be behind you as it puts you in a shadow and will overpower your webcam.
      • Ensure that your event planner has been clear about what to do if you are disconnected, i.e., call in using cell phone and have a moderator or host work the slides.
      • Have a hotspot set up just in case WIFI connection shuts down.
      • Reconfirm and have clarity on expectations regarding interaction and engagement with the online audience, i.e., polls, Q&A.
      • Designate your first and last Q&A questions to your remote audience as they can easily be forgotten about.
    3. Ensure that your event planner has arranged to do a pre-event run through with the event Emcee and any other speakers. Getting to know one another allows for a better connection between all the speakers and presentations. Each speaker is a further support of one another and further enhance and support the overall theme and message of the event. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

We told you – daunting! – but as they say, ‘sharing is caring’. Tycoon’s motivation to putting together these recommendations is to make sure you are set up to succeed – planners, speakers, and the like. Perhaps these tips and tricks will make things a little less daunting.

Until then, keep calm and speak on!

– Your Tycoon, Eryne XO