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PREPARING YOUR SPEAKERS: TEST…TEST…CAN YOU HEAR ME?
The success of a virtual summit is directly linked to a speaker’s ability to keep an unseen audience attentive and actively engaged throughout the session. You should always try to schedule speakers well in advance and make sure they will be in a location conducive to presenting to a virtual audience on the day of the summit. Speakers may be quick to say yes to a virtual conference, thinking they can participate from whatever city or hotel they happen to be in on that day—but beware, the variables that this arrangement can produce such as sound, lighting and connectivity can (and will) backﬁre.
With that in mind, here are some tips for preparing your speakers:
- Ensure your speakers are comfortable communicating without a live audience. It’s important that speakers are able to keep the energy level high throughout the entire presentation, and doing so without an audience to react to can be a difficult feat. Just because a speaker has a dynamic presence in person, it may not come across that way if they're used to feeding off a live audience.
- Schedule time for an A/V check: Each speaker should do several run-throughs and at least one full A/V check one week prior to the event to make sure they can log in, upload their presentations, test their mics and video, and familiarize themselves with the chat functions and any other tools they may need to access on the day of the summit. This could also be a good time to come up with a “Plan B” scenario in case they encounter technical issues that they cannot address on the day of the event.
- Keep presentations to 15 minutes and then open the session for Q&A for another 15 minutes. We made the mistake of scheduling sessions for far too long and ended up adjusting halfway through the day. A 30-minute session is about all that an online audience can tune into, not to mention that speaking to a camera or computer with no audience feedback for more than 15 to 20 minutes is difficult to do for even the most seasoned speaker. Beyond 15 to 20 minutes you begin losing people to their email or other online distractions.