The Impact of CORONAVIRUS on the Public Speaking Sector and How Speakers Can Deal With It Best

The Impact of CORONAVIRUS on the Public Speaking Sector and How Speakers Can Deal With It Best

My experience in the speaker industry has been developed over a sixteen-year career working with thousands of professional speakers, both in representation and placement for events worldwide. COVID-19 or Coronavirus as its also known has thrown an enormous spanner in the works. 

I am not going to spin out motivational words of wisdom and tell people that everything will be fine soon in our industry. It is clearly not going to return to normal in the short to medium term. Business-class travel is all but dead and transatlantic flights few and far between for non-essential workers. The other day I listened on the morning news to a Financial Analyst from one of the world’s leading investment banks talking up Q1 in 2021 for a return to normality. ‘Seriously!’ how on earth does a Financial Analyst know more about the recovery and cures for Coronavirus than the thousands of global scientific advisors and politicians – I think not.

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The harsh reality is that the Coronavirus has reduced speaking in public to rubble. The industry has ground to a total halt and the short-term outcome does not look good. We can talk up virtual speaking (more about that later) but the truth is that the real in-person conference speaking market is gone, Vamos! There are a few bubbles of exception in Switzerland and Italy at the time of writing, with capacity limited to 100 persons or less. Better than nothing though!

Event Companies

The suppliers of the conference venues and designs, contract staff, food and beverage providers, ticketing systems (Eventbrite, etc), hotel, and airline accommodation bookings many of them have evaporated into thin air.   These companies rely on packaging up the overall solution to run conferences seamlessly from beginning to end. With little to no governments providing financial support for this sector, it’s hard to see an immediate recovery anytime soon.

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At this point in time, all of the world’s leading companies have canceled their international conferences that they use to drum up business and market their products, services, and brands.

Examples of Major Conferences Cancelled Due to COVID-19

Facebook has said they won’t have any live events involving at least 50 people until June 2021. Salesforce.com who also run major conference worldwide won’t run any live events for the remainder of this year.

Leading an events provider of any size must be a disheartening experience at this time. It was a competitive and crowded market place before Covid-19 but what happens next and for how long can staff be maintained on furlough schemes that are winding down in Europe and beyond? For how long can a company that puts on conferences costing $100,000’s to $millions of dollars survive without this business? By October 2020 we’re already over six months into the pandemic and it looks like there are no live events for at least another six months which is well into 2021.

Now The Good News

It’s ironic that in these desperate times that the speaker industry should suffer so badly. Shouldn’t this be the time that speakers are really needed not just to improve morale and output but also as a way of bringing teams together? This is where the world of public speaking has not died its own death but comes into greater demand via online or virtual events. This is a rapidly growing marketplace part due to the necessity companies have to ‘do something’ to counteract the negativity the comes with Coronavirus.

Even the most successful businesses in the world feel this pain. Working for Tesla during the pandemic can’t have been too bad with the companies share price increasing by 60% or more. But even for those in organizations not financially impaired by Covid-19 this eats away at our morale. Stepping outside the office; watching the news; having an outbreak in your child’s school; a partner out of work; elderly parents isolated; and of course the wearing of facemasks, etc, this affects us all in some way or another. And we’re expected to maintain a positive outlook, it’s literally a ‘hard-life’ with so much anxiety surrounding us all. 

Virtual Conferences & Events

Originally we set out to believe that events companies were in serious danger as the workplace buckled and people were isolated at home. Optimism arose when a handful of companies had or developed the technology to run virtual conferences. We don’t mean a speaker talking to employees or attendees via a platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams that most of us have now become acquainted with. This is a user literally walking into a digital version of the conference or event, past digital sponsored stands, with break out meetings and a far easier way of networking. The attendee can look through and align meetings via the delegates list or by company name. This is also a great feature from an event organizers perspective as they can facilitate these virtual introductions which at a live event take time to occur and are often missed opportunities.

GDS is a UK-based events company who in discussion with Promotivate told us that they had successfully converted all their major client events to their slick virtual conference platform. Here is a link to a video about a recent Retail Summit run on their immersive event platform:  https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6712722269963120640

One of the few advantages that companies have due to Coronavirus is the cost savings on not running live events. So we were surprised to learn that the cost of running fully scaled digital versions of conference arenas with all the sponsors taking stands and beyond can reach the same cost or fee as the live event. This is potentially good news for event organizers should they be able to acquire and market virtual conference software. We contacted three providers and established that we could acquire this software for clients for an annual four-figure which seemed reasonable.  We expect that the heavyweight tech companies, Microsoft, Google, etc are developing more sophisticated versions of these event platforms and this should further drive down costs.

How Can Speakers Make The Best Out Of The Coronavirus Terrible Situation?

If you’re reading this post as a speaker then we hope you’ve noted that there is an opportunity and demand out there.  It isn’t as good as it was before COVID but it offers the opportunity to learn new presenting skills and to adjust content to fit with living with the virus. We have never experienced so much demand for speakers who specialize in talking about ‘Resilience’ and working in isolation.

If you are reading this article with interest in booking speakers for an upcoming virtual event then the good news is that;

(i) speaking fees are less

(ii) there is far greater access to speakers worldwide

(iii) companies and events organizers have a far wider reach to employees, clients, and partners by taking events online

Motivational speakers and positivity are most needed now if we are going to get through COVID-19. In many ways I like this opportunity to really see what’s going on and to allow us time to adapt to new methods of speaker delivery. There is a growing market for speaking virtually and it’s a lot safer posing few health risks.  Having great speakers who have adapted fast to the new world is fun. They’re progressive, they want to help in whatever way they can. Everyone has been touched by this awful virus. If we can bring in some really interesting speakers who can and do make a difference in a very positive way then we are extremely useful and not done yet, or ever will be.

As always I welcome feedback and like talking to people myself.

Thanks for reading!

 

Jonathan Curran, Managing Director

Promotivate Speakers Agency

VIRTUAL KEYNOTE SPEAKER COST

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How Much Does A Motivational Virtual Keynote Speaker Cost?

This is a question that we have been advising on since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.

It is not only companies and clients asking this question. Speakers are also asking the question as we have all entered into a new world of virtual service delivery. What we have is inexperience and no established cost model in place for virtual speaking. This part of the speaking circuit remains ambiguous in terms of pricing.

After six months of the pandemic and speaker requests both from globally recognized companies and virtual conference organisers, we do observe that unacceptably low offers are being put across for experienced speakers. ‘Don’t pay for a Mini and expect a Rolls Royce!’

In this article, we provide helpful advice on guest speakers and their fees for virtual keynote delivery.

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(An example of some of the great speakers we book for real and virtual speaker events)
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(Living with Coronavirus: Good examples of leading speakers and their topics of discussion)

Don’t Assume A Virtual Keynote Speaker Cost Is Less Expensive

Speakers have traditionally factored in travel time to and from conferences.

Consider if a conference location is remote or without nearby airports and regular flights. Unless the speaker is local to the venue their commitment or time away can be two or even three days of travel. This means lost time and for highly in-demand speakers, other bookings can’t be accepted due to travel time.

Just because the talk is online, which means no travel time is needed by the speaker doesn’t always mean the speaker will charge less for their keynote delivery.

Another point of view is that travel time is irrelevant to the speaker’s fee. The speaker is paid to deliver a keynote on a topic in a location. How they get to the venue and however long it takes is unrelated to the guest speaking fee.

Some of our speakers have queried reducing fees for virtual or even pre-recorded inspirational speaking. The valid point that they made is that: ‘ film stars and musicians don’t discount their fees when recording movies or music videos, so why should a speaker.’ Speakers are also performers after all!

The speaker still has to invest the same time and energy in preparing their keynote content and presentation. A briefing call and now added is a check on the speaker’s home audiovisual set-up are mandatory requirements in the virtual setup.

Some speakers report that they are still collecting 100% of their normal speaking fees for virtual talks. This is likely to occur when the speaker has been previously booked by the company with success.  Speakers are reminded that agents work in a more competitive landscape than speakers themselves. Agents make recommendations and work to the available budgets. Agents have a wide array of speakers to choose from which is to the client’s advantage.

Our Position on Virtual Keynote Speaker Cost

We advocate finding a balance for virtual speaking costs that sits well with everyone. In this case, it is the clients booking them and the speakers themselves.

A good agent provides strong advice and the ability to generate the best value in selection of the speaker to meet the clients requirement.

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(Finding the balance for paying for booking virtual keynote speakers in a new world)

Virtual Speaking – Key Factors

  • Virtual talks require no travel time
  • Not all speakers are good or experienced delivering talks to a camera with no audience for feedback
  • Preparation time for a virtual keynote delivery is significant which includes testing the speaker’s AV and video conferencing set up
  • Speakers should not be expected to suddenly give talks for free or for a fraction of their standard speaking fee
  • Virtual talks are normally shorter to keep the user’s attention (20 – 45 minutes we advise)
  • Virtual talks can be turned into a mini-series focusing one or multiple speakers on bite-sized topics from leadership, sales, coping with Coronavirus etc.
  • Innovation eg. we can have copies of the speaker’s books signed and sent to coincide with the virtual session
  • The more well known the speaker, the less likely a discount will be made for a virtual live or recorded session. This also applies to the traditional speaking model
  • Access to a far greater range of speakers for virtual keynote delivery over the traditional model with travel

Virtual Keynote Speaker Cost: Conclusion

Virtual speaking services should be less expensive. But by how much is based upon an individual basis and the speaker’s status.

We don’t think any speaker should be devaluing their professional speaking fee by more than 25 to 50 percent of their in-person on stage fee. But we do feel that in most cases clients agree that a 25 to 50 percent reduction in standard speaking fees is acceptable. This won’t apply to all speakers as there will be those at the top who clients will need to pay their full speaking fees to secure their services.

We have a responsibility to professional speakers to help not have speakers income reduced further. We have already seen great loss with the temporary shut down of conferences worldwide.

“Our belief is that speakers can and will play a very important role in bringing positivity and learning to companies during and post Coronavirus.”

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(Speakers are great for communicating positivity in the times we are living in)

There should be a higher volume market for virtual keynote delivery as companies familiarise themselves with video conferencing solutions. This is positive for those speakers who’ve made the leap successfully to speaking online.

We are here to help advise, recommend, and negotiate with leading conference speakers to bring their talks online.

If there is anything we can do for your group or organization to set up an event online please let us know.

Jonathan Curran

Managing Director

Top 20 Available Virtual Keynote Speakers

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Virtual Keynote Speakers: An Improved Service For A New World During And Post Coronavirus

 

Since the onset of Coronavirus in March (2020) we’ve been working with speakers to take their work online as virtual keynote speakers in the most professional way.

We’ve used this time to develop a template for virtual keynote speaking delivery that is as flawless as technology allows. To add to this we previously published a guide to help speakers set up a professional home-based recording studios at relatively low cost.

Importantly, virtual keynote speaker delivery is easy to set up, test and when prepared well is surprisingly good. It is also far less expensive than running a traditional conference gathering which involves expense for venue hire, set production, event management, branding, travel, and downtime by employees who attend. We believe as people become familiar with the video conferencing platforms that these will evolve faster and be far more widely used.

We have collated the information we have, which includes client feedback and our own assessment of how well the internet-delivered video conference worked. We’ve also kept a close eye on how the session was prepared and the speaker’s participation to help this process.

We’ve considered speakers from not just in Europe but other regions who we work with and listed our top 20 virtual keynote speakers who we recommend and are doing this well.

Our Top 20 virtual keynote speakers list is far from conclusive and these names will change as more and more strong speakers become familiar with the required set-up. The majority of speakers should be able to deliver high-quality professional virtual keynote speaking from remote locations to hundreds of users online. Our role is to help this process along.

Organizations have the capability to deliver many more virtual amazing keynote speaker sessions to their audiences than they would have done before pre-Coronavirus. In the longer term, we look forward to traditional conferences returning but also combining into an evolved new world with multiple web-based virtual keynote speaker events.

Example: Sir Clive Woodward – Live Q&A, June 2020 (in the midst of lockdown)

The virtual keynote speaker solution we recommend involves short sharp keynote delivery or targeted Q&A delivered by a known and proven expert in a field. With relevance to the business unit.

For example, whilst writing this post, we had Sir Clive Woodward the former coach of the winning 2003 England Rugby World Cup tested and prepared earlier in the day for a live session on leadership that went live to a technology client later that day.

 

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Clive is a renowned expert in leadership, change management, and high performance. He started his business @hivelearning in 2012 to harness the power of mobile phone technology to deliver continuous high-performance leadership programs.

As Clive does a lot of television rugby commentary speaking to a camera, as opposed to an audience comes naturally to him.

There are well known international speaking circuit speakers who are not comfortable speaking for a prolonged period of time talking into a camera without feedback or audience interaction.

‘There are many well-known speakers who don’t like and are unwilling to do virtual keynote speaker delivery. So it’s worth asking this question early in the discussion’

For most established speakers speaking without an audience, interaction is a new skill. This provides speakers with a fresh challenge but one they can adapt to with a little effort.

There are also many innovative ways in which video conferencing can be used. Yesterday we watched this fascinating virtual collaboration via Zoom between leading sales speaker Frank Furness and Grammy-nominated Freddie Ravel of Earth, Wind & Fire, Santana, and more. How does music influence people’s lives? Frank was in his studio in London and Freddie on his keyboard in his in L.A. It was a very good live production with strong audience engagement.

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Tips On How To Upskill As A Virtual Keynote Speaker

 

For speakers who lack the skills and confidence to deliver virtual keynote speaking sessions here are some helpful points that will lead to a better output:

  • Work with a strong moderator in advance to build a good rapport
  • Upgrade the home office to have a studio look with strong AV
  • Have a briefing call and test run on the video con platform in advance
  • Take questions via the moderator at the end of the virtual talk
  • Do as many virtual keynote deliveries as possible for practice
  • With the client’s permission aim to have a few sessions recorded to demonstrate capability and content to share with potential clients

 

Our Top 20 Available Virtual Keynote Speakers – International & Evolving Quickly

 

1. Duncan Wardle (U.S): ‘Innovating in Crisis’

 

Duncan Wardle spent his 25 years career at Disney developing some of their most innovative ideas and strategies. Ideas that would forever change the way the company expands its impact, trains its employees and solves problems creatively.

“Duncan’s workshop sparked our creative minds and gave us tools that will pay dividends for years to come. My team was thoroughly captivated, fully engaged, energized and inspired. Look no further than Duncan for one of the best investments you will ever make in your business.” Orlando Magic

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2. Robert Muggah (Brazil):
Latin American specialist in smart cities, security, migration, and new technologies

 

Robert is at the leading edge of debates on the future of cities, disruptive technologies, digital and real threats, and the future of liberal democracy. His experience covers over 20 years’ working on the frontlines of many world conflict zones and criminal hotspots. Using exciting data and visual tools, he addresses corporate, public sector, non-profit, and academic audiences worldwide on global challenges and solutions.

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3. Alex Zanardi (Italy): ‘Unleash Your Potential’

 

Former Formula One driver turned gold para-Olympian, turned 2018 Ironman World Record Holder. Alex’s life-changing story from near-death and losing both legs leading an Indy Car race to what he decided to do next is incredible and extremely inspirational.

“As you approach the finish line, you go through a tunnel of people, all of them cheering and encouraging you. Then I heard the speaker say, ‘Alessandro Zanardi, you are an Ironman!’ It was something phenomenal, something amazing. … I got very emotional at that point. Normally I don’t let things like that get to me, but yesterday I was in tears. It was truly amazing.” Alex Zanardi

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4. Nando Parrado (Uruguay): ‘Alive – Miracle in the Andes’

 

Nando Parrado tells one of the greatest ever stories of hardship and heroism. When the plane with his school rugby team and mother and sister crashed in the High Andes in temperatures of -30°. Resorting to the only option of cannibalism for food, only 16 of the original 45 survived the 72 days it lasted.

“Nando Parrado is the best speaker that I have seen in all my corporate life…and what a charming, candid and respectable person. Through all my years in the business world, I have seen and listened to many speakers. There have been average speakers, good speakers, excellent speakers, but EXCEPTIONAL speakers only one. Nando Parrado ranks above them all.'”Yahoo!

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5. Ricardo Diniz (Portugal): ‘It’s All About The People”

 

Ricardo in a widely sought after inspirational speaker in Portugal. Comfortable in front of the camera he talks about his humble beginnings in a fishing village before becoming a renowned sailor and author, co-founding and becoming the President of the Portugal Ocean Race.

“Ricardo really captured the audience and told a very engaging story to the event participants. He was vocal, interesting, spoke to the point and managed to convey the message that we wanted. At the end of his speech people stood up and were applauding him which is an excellent testimony to his brilliant presentation. We were very glad to have him as a speaker at our event.” Louis Vuitton

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6. Rasmus Ankersen (Denmark): ‘Hunger in Paradise’

 

Rasmus Ankersen from Denmark is a bestselling author, a speaker on performance development and a trusted advisor to businesses and athletes around the world. Back in Denmark at the MCH Arena, the home FC Midtjylland, his childhood football club where Rasmus is the Chairman, they have created the world’s first drive-in for football. The players play in an empty stadium, the fans are parked in their cars outside the stadium watching the game live on a huge screen. Innovation for helping to live with Coronavirus!

“CCI hosted Rasmus Ankersen in One Team leadership event held in Turkey. Ankersen in his speech ‘Hunger in Paradise’ abolished the correlation between strong performance and great results through ‘Outcome Bias’ concept. Rasmus made audience to think about the ideal condition for success and asked them to leave the comfort zone to reach real improvement. His real life examples on the issue of saving the success from failure made important contribution to the meeting as well as provided valuable insights to CCI’s leadership team.” Coca-Cola

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7. Jim Lawless (U.K) – ‘Bold Change Management’

 

Jim is a wonderfully energetic motivational speaker who practices what he preaches. Hugely in demand for businesses seeking a conference speaker on improving Performance, Change, Communication & Leadership. Jim has entertained and inspired over half a million people on five continents, plus many more through his bestselling book ‘Taming Tigers.’ In 2020 Jim was voted #1 speaker outside of America and #6 in the world’s Top 30 Speaking Gurus. and he has successfully taken his performance online. Highly recommended for injecting the ‘bold decision making’ needed to find and adapt to our new world.

“Hi Jonathan, thanks so much for your support and that of your team in arranging for Jim to work with us. He was fantastic—I have had nothing but extremely positive feedback from my teams. Jim was easy to work with and flawlessly integrated key meeting themes into his message. I am thrilled he was able to join our meeting.” Crocs EMEA – Split, Croatia

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8. Frank Furness (U.K) – ‘Managing Disruptive Change’

 

Frank is an internationally sought-after motivational speaker. His lively, enthusiastic and humorous style has inspired audiences all around the world.
He is a specialist in sales, technology, social media and goal setting and how they work in tandem to produce great results for organizations. In the past 3 months, he has done over 30 virtual presentations to audiences as small as 20 to groups of over 600 and has mastered the art of virtual keynote speaking.

 

“Frank came to our recent sales conference in Athens and gave an energetic and informative presentation on ‘Hunting with Tigers’, this was excellent as it fitted perfectly with the theme ‘Hunting to Grow’. A very insightful view on how top salespeople work and many key lessons were presented. Thoroughly enjoyable and I would recommend to any sales organisation” GE Healthcare

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9. Mark Gallagher (U.K) – ‘Adapting To Change’

 

Mark has managed teams in Formula One. His insights into how F1 teams need to adapt and innovate to change or fail is highly applicable to the Coronavirus situation. As a result of Coronavirus, most organisations will need to implement change quickly across leadership, marketing, technology and beyond. Mark has this experience and is a leading international speaker in this area.

“Having heard him speak at an EADS Engagement Forum in Paris I asked Mark to speak at our Leadership Conference for Airbus in the UK. He was able to combine his experiences of F1, leadership and engagement in a humorous and enlightening way that really connected with the audience” Airbus

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10. Sir Clive Woodward (UK): ‘How To Win’ (In these difficult times)

 

Sir Clive Woodward is a high-performance Coach of the England Rugby and the British Olympic Team for London 2012. He led England to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup and worked for six years as Director of Elite Performance for the British Olympic Association. He’s also a designer of executive leadership programs on the science of winning having been a successful businessman for prior to his involvement in sport.

Here is a link to the live Q&A session with Clive Woodward we refer to above for reference.

“Clive was excellent. He was focused and hard-edged throughout his talk and he enthralled and inspired the audience.” Lloyds of London

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11. Ann Daniels (UK) – ‘How Anyone Can Change Their Outlook In An Instance’

 

Ann Daniels is a record-breaking polar explorer and a renowned international speaker. Daniels is the first woman in history, along with expedition teammate Caroline Hamilton, to reach the North and South Poles. Aged 30 Ann was a mother of triplets, working in a bank and had never had a rucksack on her back. She has turned ordinary into extraordinary.

“Your talk and contribution to the day was a great inspiration to us all. We were fascinated by your achievements and you brought a new dimension to the event.” IBM Europe

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12. Marc Lammers (Netherlands):’Adapting to Change, Teamwork & Focus’

 

Marc Lammers is the former Dutch Olympic Hockey Coach who introduced technology and innovation to improve performance and develop winning teams. He has coached Spain, Netherlands and the Belgian national sides leading the Dutch to Olympic Gold in Beijing in 2008.

The relevant strength to Covid-19 is that he is an expert at guiding people to adapt, to be better team players, handle stress and learn from failure and difficulty.

“Marc gave an energetic presentation at the launch of our company 2ndSense. Where a crisis is an opportunity. Just the nail on the head when it comes to our attitude and our philosophy. Our guests were full of praise for Marc, even those who have seen him before.” 2ndSense

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13. Araceli Segarra (Spain): ‘What Lessons Can We Learn From The Mountains’

 

Araceli was the first Spanish woman to conquer Everest. She is a
model, television and radio personality, author, and children’s illustrator
A multilingual speaker who is fluent in Spanish, Catalan, French, and English.
Expert in leadership, teamwork, goal setting, organization, and risk management.

In her virtual keynote, Araceli discusses characteristics that the virus pandemic has placed upon people which include; frustration, isolation, uncertainty and lack of motivation. All mountains are different and require a different focus and each requires a new skill to overcome them.

“Araceli helped us communicate to our team that to get through rough times the keyword is teamwork. She made a superb presentation that made everybody leave the room with a completely different view of work and life.” Bulltick Capital Markets

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14. Bruce Dickinson (France): ‘Don’t Be Afraid of Failure’

 

Although the lead singer of Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, is probably best known for being a global rock star, he is also a polymath who has enjoyed great success in diverse areas. He is a commercial airline pilot, the driving force behind Cardiff Aviation, Vice-Chairman of Pouncer, Chairman of GoldiLox, commercial entrepreneur, and an excellent fencer.

“Bruce Dickinson is a superstar… When you dig deeper, you find that his tremendous sense of humour facilitates the telling of an epic story. This man has an enormous heart and fighting spirit.”

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15. Stefan Hyttfors (Sweden): Managing Disruption, ‘We are ALL SUFFERING, but this is also an OPPORTUNITY.’

Stefan Hyttfors is a brilliant international conference speaker and author of the highly-acclaimed business book: Yoga For Leaders: ‘How to Manage Self-Disruption in a World of Self-Destruction’

His skill set is very well-tuned to provide expert advice and guidance on how to manage the disruptive change that the CORONA-19 virus has placed on all us world-wide.

“Stefan is a combination of a stand up comedian and thoughtful key note speaker. He delivers energy and laughs while at the same time making you reflect upon todays challenges and how to tackle the unknown future. We really appreciated his key note and I highly recommend him if you want an inspiring talk about change. He was also very easy to work with.” Spotify

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16. Erin Meyer (France) – ‘Driving Cultural Change’

 

An expert on cross-cultural management, Erin is the author of ‘The Culture Map’, a Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, winner of the Thinkers 50 ‘On The Radar Award’ and Top 30 HR Influencers. A perfect candidate to speak to companies now needing to redefine cross-cultural leadership due to remote working. Erin teaches speaks on ‘Leading Across Cultures’ and ‘Managing Multi-Cultural Teams’.

“Whether you are sitting at a desk in Boston or eating at a restaurant in Beijing, communicating across cultures is the great challenge of the global economy. Getting it right will be the the difference between success and failure. Erin Meyer shows you how to get it right.’ Founders of the Thinkers50

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17. Dr Steven MacGregor (Spain): ‘Wellbeing In A New World’

 

Barcelona based Chief Wellbeing Officer and a top expert in leadership, health, and wellbeing, Dr. Steven MacGregor founded The Leadership Academy of Barcelona (LAB) to help deliver global programs for his impressive list of clients. His build’s positive cultural change into organizations, much sought after in managing to deal with Coronavirus.

“I have worked together with Steven in different projects. His performance and attitude have always been excellent. He is very proactive and he knows very well how to manage things. You feel that you can leave things on his hands, and they will be done on time and with high quality. He is creative and imaginative, but at the same time very pragmatic and result-oriented. He is a person to work with, without any doubt.” IESE Business School

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18. Benedikt Böhm (Germany) – ‘Accepting The Situation’

 

Extreme mountaineer Benedikt Böhm is the international managing director of Dynafit, a leading global ski touring brand. He is also a speaker whose talks, managed with great finesse, sees him develop ties between the world of extreme mountaineering and the business world.

“You have really inspired us with your presentation, and have clearly hit right to the heart of the big overlap between the mountain world and the business world. Based on your presentation, topics such as communication, decision-making and speed can be discussed anew with a totally fresh perspective. Many thanks for that!” Linde AG

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19. Ian Bremmer (U.S) ‘Calculating The Political and Economic Risk of Cororonvirus’

 

Ian Bremmer created Wall Street’s first-ever global political risk index. As the president of Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer is a sought after adviser on international risk management on the geopolitical and economic landscape.

Ian provides an informed view as to where we are likely to be headed and the consequences we will face or avoid.

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20.Steve Wozniak (U.S) – ‘Networking & Technology Post Coronavirus’

 

Co-Founder of Apple and builder of the world’s first home computer. A pioneer of the modern technology era who had a desire to build a home computer that was easy for everybody to use and that he could about teach to the younger generation which he remains very passionate about. Woz provides virtual speaking keynote delivery from his home recording studio.

“I’ve had the pleasure of featuring Steve Wozniak across several conferences and enjoyed working with him immensely. His enthusiastic personality translates to a fantastic keynote, and his generosity off stage connecting with attendees had the entire event buzzing. Woz is akin to the Santa Claus of technology – all those that cross paths with him can’t help but be charmed and delighted.” TechMedia

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As we mentioned earlier in the post. This Top 20 list is not conclusive, it will change as more speakers adapt to provide strong virtual keynote delivery capability. The speakers named above are those that have been working on their complete package and we are aware of.

We are all in the process of learning to adapt to new ways both during and post-Coronavirus. These are challenging times, but it also creates an opportunity for success. In these times, great speakers help by inspiring and motivating when it’s most in need.

Now the ability exists to reach far greater audiences using rapidly developing, but already great video conferencing packages. Without the large costs of running traditional conferences, clients can save small fortunes but still by using a virtual speaker to connect with their employees and run virtual client events.

A few speakers will be uncomfortable, but many like we do will see an exciting new way. Speakers could, with this positive outlook achieve many more virtual bookings, especially as travel and the associated time it takes are temporarily on hold.

If you have questions about any of our speakers listed here, or you would like guidance or recommendations on selecting a great speaker for a forthcoming conference, please contact me T: +34938004890 or email us here.

Jonathan Curran

Managing Director

 

Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars

Promotivate Speakers Agency Green Screen backdrop

How To Set Up The Perfect Virtual Keynote

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.

Why?

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.

But…

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.

Screenshot 2020 05 15 at 14.00.05 1024x557 - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars

How Many People Can Attend A Virtual Keynote Or Webinar?

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.

How?

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.

What Does A High Quality Virtual Keynote Look Like?

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.

How To Build A Home Studio To Deliver Virtual Talks

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.

Green Screen - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars (A typical Green Screen or what the Speaker places behind them)

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.

Promotivate Speakers Agency Green Screen backdrop - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars (Here’s our example of what the Green Screen is replaced by as seen by our virtual audience in the background)

Green Screen Software

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.

Zoom screenshot 1024x664 - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars Source: Zoom
Microsfot Teams - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars Source: Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams has been widely adopted as part of the Microsoft 365 office suite. Teams is useful for big companies. It is possible that for small enterprises the expensive costs outweigh the benefits, but for big corporations, Teams works great to unify the company on a central hub and standardizes the tools needed for work. It is arguably the best platform for running video conferencing to the big screen for large events as the image below shows. The costs vary from free to $20 per month for small to mid-sized businesses.
Cisco WebEx is an industry-standard service, especially for those with a large number of team members or an exceptionally large enterprise, Cisco’s WebEx video conferencing service enables joining meetings online or via the phone, depending on the participant’s location and ability at the time. Pricing starts at $13.50 per month.
Cisco WebEx screenshot - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars Source: Cisco WebEx
GoToMeeting screenshot 1024x613 - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars Source: GoToMeeting
GoToMeeting has many useful features, including instant meetings or meeting scheduling and in-app meeting messaging between participants. It is not free and GoToMeeting pricing starts at $14 per month for groups of up to 10 meeting participants and costs $29 per month for larger groups of up to 150 participants.
Google Meet is an upgraded version of Google Hangouts. It is designed for G Suite users. Google Meet is for video meetings among team members, with similar features to Zoom. With many users operating their business email accounts via Google’s servers we expect Meet will quickly rise up the rankings.
Google Meet screenshot - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars Source: Google

What Are The In-Demand Virtual Speaking Topics?

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

#Sales & #High Performance – How to retain and even grow sales pipelines under isolation. How to build your own network of sector experts that will help growth when we are socially distancing

#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:

The Set-Up And Technical Requirements For Virtual Talks

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.

Screenshot 2020 05 15 at 14.04.05 1024x531 - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars Jim Lawless: Green Screen
bear grylls 2 - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars Bear Grylls: Teaser Video – Click image to play
Brief the speaker at least 3 days before the talk to discuss the objectives and desired outcomes. To help build the audience, have the speaker send a maximum two-minute ‘Teaser Video’ announcing their participation and a summary of what they will be talking about. Here is the teaser Bear Grylls recorded by way of example for an up and coming conference.
Limit to 35 – 30 minutes for keynote delivery followed by Q&A. Our experience shows that going beyond a total time of 45 minutes is likely to be counterproductive. Consider that the viewers are sitting in front of computers with access to the internet, email and other distractions. We also work with speakers who are very comfortable and effective communicators for up to 90 minutes. But for most groups, the shorter duration is advised.

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.

Example Follow Up Recap  The Ten Rules For Taming Tigers Recap for  client name removed  May 2020 copy - Guide To Delivering High Quality Virtual Keynotes And Webinars (Follow Up Notes of Jim Lawless after his virtual keynote)

In Conclusion

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

A Guide To Virtual Webinar Sessions And Virtual Keynote Speaking – Is One Better?

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First! What’s The Actual Difference Between a Virtual Keynote and a Virtual Webinar?

 

A webinar (a combination of the words “web” and “seminar”) is a video workshop, lecture, or presentation hosted online using webinar software. Often business-related, these sessions can be used to share knowledge, ideas, and updates with people around the world. Webinars can also be leveraged to build and nurture relationships, build authority around a brand, or demonstrate a product.

A virtual keynote delivery is a live speech by a speaker to a live virtual audience. They typically involve the speaker foccussing on topics of relevence to the organsitation. They can be tailored to a clients specific needs with an advance briefing or planning call.  The interactive part of these virtual sessions normally comes from questions being sent digitally and answered following the session. A moderator is required to help the speaker manage the question feed.

With the effects of Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant changes to the way in which companies work with their employees, the way in which we communicate has likely changed forever. 

There are significant advantages of being able to provide top-class speakers for moderated virtual webinars and keynote delivery directly to companies worldwide.

Lets in the first instance look at the disadvantages compared to the advantages of hosting virtual sessions.

Virtual Speaking 1024x536 - A Guide To Virtual Webinar Sessions And Virtual Keynote Speaking - Is One Better?

Disadvantages of Virtual Sessions

  • Lack of one-to-one and team interaction with employees or client partners
  • Perceived technical connection issues
  • Potential security risks due to engaging 3rd party conference streaming software
  • Frustration if set up poorly

Advantages of Virtual Sessions

  • Easy and quick to set up
  • Direct communication with employees and clients,  showing that the organisation cares about its people
  • Significant travel and accommodation savings
  • More efficient use of employees and clients time
  • Ability to ensure the ‘target’ corporate theme/message is delivered within a concise window of time to a defined audience
  • Easy to encourage full participation by a selection of a great speaker, topic and advance invitation by email (teaser video encouraged, see below)
  • The audience has the ability to ask questions and interact online
  • A professional moderator will add a lot of online audience engagement
  • The session is more intimate in comparison to a large auditorium
  • Easy to compile a short summary video for follow up and a reminder of the session
  • Access to speakers worldwide, not just in your region
  • Less expensive speaker fees, due to no travel requirements

 

Speaker Selection

The first important consideration to note is that ‘not all speakers like virtual speaking, and are competent at it.’

This is likely to change as remote working becomes the normal and in most cases speakers will have to adapt to this new world. But many speakers are already experts on relevant topics that include; resilience, teamwork, communicating remotely; taking risk; remote sales and more.

The good news is that many of the worlds leading conference speakers from the former pre-Coronavirus period have adapted quickly to speaking virtually. Some speakers and celebrities already have studio arrangements in their own home for greater interaction and with fans. This is a real benefit!

Speaker fees are also affected in a positive way for clients. Without travel speakers fees can be reduced as they are now able to work on more than one talk per day from home.

To look at speakers of interest in this area visit the Speakers page here.

 

The Moderator

“The role of the moderator is extremely important when it comes to virtual webinars and virtual speaking. A good moderator will control the energy levels and what the audience leave the session having learned.”

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A great moderator is like a chat show host, able to add humour but importantly have researched the client, speaker and the industry sector itself.

In doing so, they are able to manage the interactive question and answer session with skill.

They command the virtual room and should be considered as important as the speaker themselves by the client.

Companies may also where possible use the senior leadership for these sessions as it allows a great platform for communication from above.

 

 

How Long Should A Virtual Webinar or Keynote Delivery Be?

There is a direct answer for this, based upon our experience of what has worked and not worked so well.

Virtual Keynote Delivery: 25 – 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes interactive Q&A

Virtual Moderated Webinars: 20 – 60 minutes to include 15 minutes of interactive Q&A

 

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Which Platform To Use And At What Cost?

This depends largely on how companies and organisations have been communicating internally and externally via video conferencing platforms. Security plays a key factor in determining which platform is most suitable.

Here are some of the most popular video conferencing platforms in use: Skype for Business, Zoom, Livestorm, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet

In addition to this, the numbers of people who will be invited and attend the virtual session will influence which platform works best. For example Zoom’s offering is free for up to 100 participants on a video call but limited to 40 minutes.

To have 500 participants and unlimited call time you would require the purchase of a professional licence. With Livestorm where you can have up to 2,000 participants per call the licence fee would for running unlimited webinars is c. $400 USD per month.

Looking beyond the more well known commercial videoing names there are also a host of bespoke platforms, that companies seeking greater multi-screen capability should consider. Twentythree is one of these and we have included their pricing model here by example.

Here is a link to a good reference page that summarises the capabilities of the current video conferencing providers.

 

What Does The Remote Worker Require?

An internet speed of 10 Mbps or more guarantees successful connection to the virtual set up. They should make sure that they have well in advance downloaded the required software and then check the video and sound settings on their terminal.

The positioning of the computer or handheld device closer to the wireless router should be considered. We recommend that participants should test their internet speed using free online checkers such as Speedtest.net or Speedcheck.org.

Money 1024x536 - A Guide To Virtual Webinar Sessions And Virtual Keynote Speaking - Is One Better?

 

How Much? What Are The Fees for Booking Virtual Speaking & Webinars

This is the question that we have been receiving repeatedly since March 2020. The answer is that they vary, but we are finding an acceptable level. We have found that there are many less-competent speakers marketing talks for very little money or free.

This we understand, but it should not mean that experienced and leading conference speakers should also give away their talks if going online.

With the speakers themselves finding that their incomes have been affected by the loss of conference work, here at Promotivate we have been recommending that the speaker’s fees for virtual speaking should amount to 50% of their normal speaking fee.

The only exception to this being if the client booking the speaker requires the speaker to spend significantly more time preparing for the virtual session.

 

Testing, Teaser Videos, Trial Runs and Add-Ons

We recommend that at least a 15-minute test run is completed a few days before the virtual event itself.  If audience participation is included; such as having live Q&A or online poling then this should be included.

bear grylls 2 - A Guide To Virtual Webinar Sessions And Virtual Keynote Speaking - Is One Better?We also like to ask speakers to provide clients with a short teaser video. Normally the video is no longer than a minute and should announce their arrival and what they are coming to talk about.

It’s a great way to make sure signup and attend the virtual meet. Here’s an example we had Bear Grylls record for a forthcoming virtual conference.

View: Bear Grylls Teaser Video

For example, we like a mobile phone application called sli.do which allows the online audience to answer questions set by the organisation in advance, during or following the virtual session.

Slido Image 300x146 - A Guide To Virtual Webinar Sessions And Virtual Keynote Speaking - Is One Better?

Slido improves the interactivity and provides valuable feedback to leadership teams about important issues that are affecting the group in real-time. This also then enables reactive measures and behavioural change to be applied.  The feedback can be anonymised if required.

Conclusion

We believe that virtual keynote and virtual webinars will become far more popular as people familiarise themselves with remote working.

There is no answer to whether a webinar or a keynote is better. This is simply down to the need of the audience. Both virtual setups will undoubtedly be useful in moving forward. Companies will be using both virtual programs to communicate at far less cost than flying employees and client partners to annual conferences worldwide.

We look forward to the return of the physical conferences when normality is restored. But we believe the speaker industry can benefit from companies booking a series of virtual talks annually when previously one big organised event was scheduled.

“In the longer term, the combination of both virtual and traditional conference speaking should see the industry restored to beyond its pre-Coronavirus levels.”

If we can help you organise either a virtual talk or a webinar programme we’ll be pleased to assist you. We are working normally worldwide with none of us on the government furlough support schemes. We have both the speakers and technical capability in position to deliver these advanced virtual speaking solutions now.

Jonathan Curran, Managing Director

Promotivate Speakers Agency

 

Finally, you might enjoy:  Watch the Speakers Series: ‘HOPE: COVID-19 ‘Inspiration by Experts in Resilience’

HOPE: COVID-19 ‘Inspiration by Experts in Resilience’ – Updated daily with new videos

covid video banner - HOPE: COVID-19 'Inspiration by Experts in Resilience' - Updated daily with new videos

INSPIRATION BY EXPERTS IN RESILIENCE

It made total sense to Promotivate that we put our speaker’s expert knowledge on managing difficult situations online at a time when it is most needed. After all, this is what we are regarded as being knowledgeable about.

In late March we have launched an independent video channel on YouTube.

The channel’s objective is to provide daily INSPIRATION to everyone during these difficult times. We’ve gathered leading professional speakers who are experts on how to be RESILIENT and deal with SIGNIFICANT ADVERSITY. We asked each of them to provide a few minutes of their best advice to provide HOPE for others.

Channel Link: HOPE: Covid-19 ‘Inspiration by Experts for Resilience in Challenging Times’

The videos are from our world-renowned adventurers, record breakers, scientists, high-performance coaches, game-changers, top motivators and more. In addition, we welcome receiving videos for inclusion from other experts who can help share valuable advice in these difficult times. To be involved please make a short video (3 min max) and send it to me for inclusion.

All of the speakers that we are featuring can be booked for ‘Virtual Speaking’  to employees working from home and we can guide and arrange for the appropriate internet streaming to be in place.

Jonathan Curran, Managing Director