Virtual events have become the new norm. And with it, the demand for effective virtual speakers has risen.
Luckily, virtual events allow for more flexibility than in-person events. You don’t have to worry about flying speakers in from different parts of the world.
And you won’t have to set up their accommodations for where your conference is taking place. But getting the right speaker for a virtual presentation can still be challenging.
A virtual host or speaker must be able to connect with the audience on-screen. Without being in-person, it is easy for presentations to feel impersonal or disconnected.
But a good virtual speaker is one that makes the audience feel heard even if only through a digital means. They must be able to deliver content that both challenges and engages your audiences.
And they must do so while navigating the virtual platform. So what are the specific things you should consider when choosing a virtual speaker for your next event?
Below is a guideline to help you in your decision-making process. From assessing the audience to achieving the goals of the conference itself, these tips will help you make your virtual event a success.
#1. Consider their experience
The right person for your event should have at least some prior experience in public speaking. After all, presenting at any conference involves much more than just energy and charisma.
A good public speaker must be able to command the space and make a connection. And this connection should not only be with the audience but with the material as well.
The demand for engaging content has never been higher. So the speaker must be able to engage audiences first based on the material related to the conference as a whole.
Additionally, your speaker should know how to present the content in an effective and intriguing way. When presenting, speakers should introduce information with a nice flow.
Consider what kind of conferences your speaker has previously been involved in. And try addressing these specific questions below.
Does this speaker prefer to give their presentations like a lecture? Or do they prefer to involve the virtual audience throughout?
All speakers are different. Some prefer to hold a session straight through without interruption. Others might be more open to online discussion during sessions.
But it all boils down to what they’re comfortable with and willing to do. Ask speakers what they prefer and share your own goals for the conferences.
Assess whether their speaking style will fit into your objectives. And don’t be shy asking about how they plan to engage with attendees overall.
Is the speaker open to collaboration with the company in advance of the event? Or do they prefer to deliver their own unique material for the session itself?
You’re most likely going to be advertising the speaker for your virtual event. So you will want to know what they will be speaking about and whether their goals align with your own.
Ask if they are willing to collaborate with you on the presentation. You can provide a short list of points or industry tips you’d like them to address.
But don’t feel like you can’t ask these questions for your own event. Sessions should feel true to your company as a whole.
So building up that trust and collaboration with speakers is a must. Attendees will likely be more familiar with your organization than with the speaker in question.
It’s best to create a good partnership with the speaker. This way, the event will feel like a cohesive conference that continually informs itself from session to session.
Are they willing to stick around to network with attendees? Or do they prefer to simply deliver the key address then head out?
This should also be tied into a conversation about their pay. After all, you are paying the speaker for their material but also their time.
Most often, attendees will jump at the opportunity to network with speakers. But some speakers may have a strict policy against doing so.
Speaking at a virtual event also means that heading out will be much easier for them. So make sure that you’re on the same page about the expectations of their presentation.
It’s best for everyone to know the rundown of things, but especially when live and on-camera. Keeping your conversations with speakers as transparent as possible will be the key to running a successful virtual event.
What is their experience with virtual technology?
The questions above can easily be asked of a virtual or in-person speaker. But all of this experience is not necessarily a requirement for your virtual event.
Above all, a virtual speaker should be comfortable with technology. Their experience should be more rooted in giving a presentation online rather than in person.
Virtual engagement is different from in-person engagement. The speaker will not only have to worry about their slides and body language.
They will also have to worry about the audio and video quality of their setup. Their room and background must still look like a professional space with a good camera, lighting, and sound.
They must be able to provide that in order for you to host a successful virtual event. Unexpected challenges can arise on any occasion.
So you will want your speaker to be ready to adjust at a moment’s notice. When you contact a potential speaker, ask about their dealings with digital technology and audiences.
In a way, virtual speakers will be required to do double duty. Their sessions must be filled with engaging content and they themselves must be virtually adept.
#2. Assess your audience’s needs
Every audience is different. And reading the room before you introduce your virtual speaker will only help you in the long run.
Ideally, your speaker should be a figure within your chosen industry. And they should be able to answer any related questions that may come up.
But above all, your speaker should appeal to your audience. If you know that your audience likes to talk, don’t choose a speaker who is not willing to answer their questions.
Make sure that your speaker can focus on the interests of the entire audience. They should allow time for talking should the audience like to engage. An informed virtual speaker is as important as a virtual entertainer who knows what the audience enjoys.
All of this can be boiled down to asking yourself one simple question. Will the audience like this person?
If the answer is no, consider going with another candidate. But if the answer is yes, you’ll know you’ve found the right speaker that audiences will be excited to hear from.
#3. Stick within your budget
Virtual events are generally kinder to your wallet. You no longer have to worry about booking a hotel or arranging travel costs.
But that’s not to say you should break your budget on a single speaker. Choose someone who can fit the bill without sending you into debt.
Some speakers have a more affordable fee for virtual events since there is no travel involved. But since virtual events are increasingly more popular, their pay may increase depending on the person.
Getting a popular speaker is great for marketing and publicity. But there are still plenty of good speakers out there with an affordable price tag.
It’s best to know your budget before you search for a virtual speaker. That way, you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Just remember that content is key. Your contact might not have a big name that is recognizable to everyone in your industry.
But if they hit the stage with creative insight, they’re sure to be a success. When going over your budget, create a list of what you want from the speaker.
Focus on what you want out of their time. Then ask that they deliver those very things in their live address.
This will give the speaker a clearer view of their job as well. In this way, you must develop a collaborative partnership with them.
#4. Partner with the best
Sometimes, finding a virtual speaker can be difficult. But luckily, there are plenty of bureaus that can help you along the way.
Partner with organizations that have made a career out of virtual events. They can help you in the planning of meetings and social media posts.
They can even put you in contact with a variety of speakers. These bureaus will have insider knowledge on how to drive audience engagement.
And they’ll know when it’s best for the event to be live vs. pre-recorded. The tips they provide will stem from their professional expertise.
They may even be able to help facilitate the platform of the event as well. All of the tools they provide will ultimately be for the benefit of your virtual event.
So don’t shy away from reaching out for some professional support. The quality of your virtual presentation and conferences will outlast the actual event itself.
Invest in the longevity of your session. And make sure to take advantage of the tools these organizations have to provide.
#5. Ensure their comfort with accessibility
Speakers at virtual events have a difficult goal to accomplish. They must be able to engage with attendees while on-screen through a camera.
But luckily, virtual technology has provided some extraordinary tools to help foster networking. Consider asking your speaker the following questions to gauge their comfort with accessibility.
Is your speaker comfortable using chat features to communicate with attendees?
Online platforms make it easy for attendees to ask questions. Using a chat feature on the side of the screen, they can enter a query even during the speaker’s presentation itself.
Ask your speaker if they are comfortable using those chat features. Some might prefer to keep questions off until the very end.
Others might be open to addressing questions mid-speech. But make your intentions clear with the speaker beforehand.
Would the speaker consider contributing to an online event blog?
Some virtual events create an event blog to keep attendees engaged even after presentations. And this could be a great opportunity for speakers to further collaborate with your organization.
Ask if they would consider writing a post or even multiple posts with tips from their presentation. Maybe even inquire whether they’d be willing to post some of their slides to the blog as well.
Attendees may have difficulty hearing or working their video camera. But having the same information in written form on a blog could continue to enhance their event experience.
Is the speaker comfortable using breakout rooms?
Breakout rooms are a great way to increase audience engagement. Some individuals find it difficult to speak up at large events on online platforms.
So breaking out into a smaller group helps to alleviate such anxiety. Ask your speaker if they’d be comfortable using breakout rooms during their presentation.
This would not only give the speaker a break. But it would get attendees engaged in the live-action of the presentation itself.
Additionally, speakers would have the chance to hear the audience’s reactions to their presentation. They would have the option to take in feedback or not.
But it all comes down to whether you ask the speaker what they prefer. Breakout rooms provide some fruitful opportunities, but only if everyone is on board with the plan.
The bottom line
There are many considerations to take in when choosing a speaker for your virtual event. But hopefully, these tips have helped to shed some light on the process.
Live audience interaction around the world is one of the many unique attributes of a virtual event. If you’re keen on fostering such collaboration, make sure your speaker is too.
Sessions can go in wildly different directions without proper communication beforehand. Take the time to ask whether your speaker is comfortable with video and audio technology.
Confirm that they are able to provide an appropriate background and lighting. All of these elements might seem like small details that nobody will notice.
But, trust us, they will. These details will greatly enhance the attendee experience of your next event.
Keep Reading: How To Make Virtual Meetings More Fun
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC for hire, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular virtual comic, magician, and virtual speakers.