We run virtual keynote delivery and webinars for companies with relative ease at these times. We’d like to share some of our good practices with our audience of speakers for whom this is relevant.
We also wish to inform clients who maybe unaware of the simplicity of how easy it is to set up virtual talks. They are significantly lower in cost to host than traditional conference stage based sessions which involve time away and travel costs. With access to good speakers we are finding ways to bring strong positive communications to clients and their partners, improving positivity at a time when all of us are being asked to keep social distance.
Companies everywhere are scrambling to find virtual speaking solutions to communicate messages of positivity to employees working remotely. They are also a great method for showing employer empathy and delivering upskilling. Last but not least, these sessions can provide a welcome break from the monotony of long periods of isolation and reconnect people.
Companies don’t need speakers to focus on the negative content regarding Coronavirus. These messages are dominating our news networks, so the focus of the session should be steered away from CV-19 and 99 per cent directed on providing the solution.
From 2 to 10,000 attendees online, virtual keynotes are easily set up using the right platform, that supports the size of the audience. Here’s an article we published about the video conferencing platforms and costs here.
In order to demonstrate how a well-composed virtual keynote delivery should run, we’re going to use a real conference that we delivered with 100% success this week in May. You’ll see video links within this post that show the outcome by recording our screen.
‘Success’ for a virtual keynote delivery is when all of the online audience watches and interacts without any service interruptions, and sound and picture quality for the duration of the virtual event are perfect.
In our case, none of our global pharmaceutical companies audience of 400 employees, based worldwide had any connectivity issues whatsoever.
The moderator is in the office studio and the speaker from home. Both had high-quality green screen backgrounds in operation giving the audience a highly professional appearance. It helps that the speaker was excellent. Virtual speakers need more than content they require the ability to talk to a camera unable to see, feel or hear the emotions of 400 people reacting to what he was saying.
A top-quality virtual keynote will look close to the stage production when done well. To achieve this is not as technically difficult as it appears. The selection of a great speaker on a relevant topic for the audience is essential. Getting this wrong will lead to a bored and ungrateful audience. Getting this right will help motivate the group and who will be grateful for the gift of the virtual session. They’ll be encouraged and inspired to make positive actions going forward.
The studio can be at home or from a professional recording studio. This will depend on the location of the speaker and regional social distancing rules. Finding a recording studio may also be preferred if you wish the speaker to be alongside the moderator. But as we are showing you here in the examples, the speaker was transmitting live from his home in the UK and the moderator was at the client’s main offices in Denmark. We want to tell you how easy it is to set up a solid home recording studio.
If you plan to stream a high-quality keynote or an interactive Q&A session with a speaker then don’t have the speaker simply staring into their computer screen or camera. They should be standing up with a fully interactive background, which requires a green screen, professional microphone, high definition recording camera (though these are found on higher-end home computers) and strong lighting in the room.
Studio lights can be bought for about $50 on Amazon.com for three lights which include two umbrella reflectors. Alternatively, a simpler solution is to use a couple of angular desk lamps. We had a look at mics and one of the most popular and best looking is the Blue Yeti which costs about $130.This kit is not as expensive as it seems with many packages in the $200 – $400 range. It is also possible to use green fabric or even paint the wall green behind the camera.
“If a speaker delivers a really good virtual talk, the small investment in this equipment is for the long run in this rapidly evolving space. If any of the AV variables which includes the internet connection fail or drops off, clients will be extremely unhappy and unlikely to either rebook this speaker or potentially other speakers.”
Here is a link to recent buyers guide for home recording studio packages. The internet connection should be wired by ethernet cable and have a speed of at least 20mpbs. Running wirelessly is to be avoided, as no matter how strong the connection, wireless connections are prone to dropout. Test your connection speed immediately for free via Speedtest or Fast.
Speakers should want to adjust the content that appeared on their stage presentations for the virtual version. This will mean that any videos, slides and sound can appear behind the speaker for both prerecorded speaking and live sessions.
This is complicated if you lack knowledge of video editing. Thankfully there are many platforms and apps available online will allow for simple editing and addition of special effects that can be trialled and tested. The simplest package that we found was one called Camtasia 2020 which is available for Windows and Mac. Buying an individual licence appeared to cost about $250 on a one of purchase basis. Apple users might also look at Final Cut Pro X which at the time of writing this article has a 90-day free trial.
Recommended Video Conferencing Platforms
When in-person communication isn’t an option, video conferencing is preferred for feeling connected with co-workers. There are numerous applications and platforms for video conferencing and collaboration.
Some, such as Cisco WebEx, are industry standards but can be expensive. Others are growing in popularity and may even be offered free or at a low cost.
Based on our actual experience in recent times we have ranked the Top 5 video conferencing platforms in the following order when considering the quality of service, usability and price.
Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing solutions for businesses. It is feature-rich, with various plans based on business size and needs. Prices range from free for basic personal meetings to $19.99 per month (with a minimum of 100 hosts) for large enterprises.
Coronavirus has led to demand from expert speakers on a range of established speaking topics. The topics and the skills required to best manage difficult circumstances are directly applicable to companies working with isolation and social distancing measures well which are affecting performance at employee and company level. Here they are:
#Resilience – Overcoming adversity by being more resilient in changing and challenging times
#Change Management – How do employers and employees make the seismic shift in mindset that is required to adapt to a new world and new way of working
#Culturalchange – Many organisations will be forced to make personnel changes and recruit locally to replace internationally diverse teams. What policies can be adopted in order that the change is effective and seen positively
#Communication – How do we communicate effectively using available technologies and how often should we be communicating
#Motivation– All speaker inputs should be #motivational for all of these topics, communicating positive messages. A pure motivational speaker can be engaged virtually to inspire groups in challenging times
#Leadership – How do you lead and inspire teams to perform in times of extreme difficulty. How often should be speaking to remote employees? What messages should a strong leader give out and what comments should be avoided?
#Futurework – Where does your company want to be in the future? What are the likely changes to infrastructure; changes to work/life balance, the need to be flexible and adaptable to change.
Here are speakers and the topics that they are well placed to speak virtually to audiences:
Choose a strong moderator who either knows about or they will research the company and sector. A good moderator will pull the strings, give energy and is the interaction between the online audience (who will send questions for the speaker) and the speaker. If possible we recommend that the leadership of an organisation moderate as it provides airtime and shows empathy from above.
‘The moderator is, therefore, the face of the company.’
Select a strong speaker on a relevant topic of interest, from those we mentioned above. The speaker should in addition to their experience have the home studio recording setup that we’ve been outlining above. Another option is to travel to a local recording studio or even the client’s office to record the live stream from. There are recording studios in most cities who provide these services.
The 9 Key Elements & The Order of the Virtual Session should be as follows;
(1) The virtual waiting room area opens 5 minutes before with a looping speaker video c.30 seconds
(ii) Exactly on-time the Moderator will welcome guests, set the scene and introduce the speaker.
iii) Play the speaker’s introductory video (usually up to 3 mins in length>
(iv) at around 30 minutes the speaker concludes their keynote and opens for questions.
(v) the moderator will select questions from the audience, which can be sent using the chat room facility on most video conferencing platforms. Or for greater interactivity using an app like Slido for running polls and generating useful feedback from the online audience. This session lasts for as long as the Moderator feels fits the situation.
(vi) The Moderator will close out the entire session within 45 minutes (be aware that some free versions of video conferencing software have time limits on duration. Zooms free version allows up to 100 users and limits the conference to 40 minutes, and automatically turns the session off if the user goes beyond their time limit.
(vii) Take feedback on the same day from your audience whilst it is fresh in their minds. Did they enjoy it? Was the session valuable? What did they learn most? Do they have suggestions to make improvements? Would they like to participate in future virtual sessions?
(viii) Share the feedback with your audience as much as possible. We recommend also asking the speaker to produce a summary of their key points and include this. See the example on the right we sent out for a recent virtual talk by leading speaker Jim Lawless to 400 people at a global pharmaceutical company.
(ix) Finally, review the entire virtual process. It should be very easy to organise and set up. If it was not, then look at where the problems arose from the audience feedback and fix them for the next session.
Virtual speaking is easy to set up professionally, cost-effective and should be an extremely effective tool for communicating positivity to isolated employees. Or perhaps for impressing client partners.
If you have any questions at all about how to run a successful virtual keynote or webinar speaker series we’re happy to speak on a video conferencing platform and guide you.
Jonathan Curran, Managing Director
Promotivate Speakers Agency