Remember “Virtual Reality”? Only 6 months ago was I working with a client on setting up virtual reality stations throughout the conference hall to give guests an activity to do during breaks and receptions. Well here we are living in a world of “virtual” being our reality! What a crazy shift our industry and so many others have had to make.

The virtual space can be overwhelming so creating expectations and setting your presenters up for success is critical. For even the most seasoned speakers and leaders, presenting into a computer or web cam can be intimidating and uncomfortable. We found that creating a “Digital Guide” for speakers is a great way to communicate best practices. Things like lighting and background are new considerations that presenters haven’t had to consider at live events.

Below are some tips we have found helpful in coaching presenters to make sure they approach the digital space prepared!

  • Select a backdrop that is simple but a blank wall is not suggested, shelving or cabinets can act as a good back drop
  • Ensure wall coverings aren’t too busy to cause audience distractions (ex: patterned wallpaper)
  • If an office setting with shelves or desk area, remove all clutter and trash
  • Avoid sunlight in background & have lighting in front of you not behind or beside which can cause glares or shadows (be mindful of windows and doors nearby where the sun exposure could change during your presentations)

Wardrobe will vary based on the tone of the event, but it’s good to stick with neutral tones and avoid solid white or black as well as colorful patterns. It’s also good to discourage glasses as they can create a glare. Another pointer if any portion of your event is being pre-recorded, is to encourage speakers to take a selfie at the time of recording. This will provide a reference point if anything needs to be re-recorded in the editing phase and ensure the same outfit, hair style and accessories.

Fast forward to the “day-of”… it’s showtime! Below are some reminders that are helpful for a smooth presentation.

  • Ensure devices are fully charged or plugged in
  • Close out of email and all applications on the computer to avoid disruptions or alerts during your recording
  • Encourage others in your household to stay off your WiFi during your speaking time (often times things like video games can reduce your bandwidth and interrupt your connection)
  • Ensure family is aware that you are recording and that children and pets are being taken care of during your allotted time
  • Air pods can be a great way to reduce background noise versus your computer speaker
  • The webcam is your “audience,” so if using a script or talking point, keep eyes up and speak to the camera; often times speakers present to the screen when the camera is traditionally at the top of the laptop.

As planners, we have already embraced this new normal, but we need to anticipate that there will be a learning curve that comes with presenting digitally. That comes with a unique opportunity to step up and guide our presenters with how to navigate successfully in this new world, one virtual event at a time!


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