Speaking at In-Person Vs. Virtual Events
Speakers and event organizers adjusted their business models and content delivery methods over the last several years as virtual events have risen in popularity. Additionally, the virtual events industry is on the rise fiscally with its rapid growth expecting to turn into to a 701 billion dollar industry in the next seven years.
If you’re an experienced speaker who has not made the jump to a virtual format yet, it can be intimidating. Likewise, new speakers may be overwhelmed by the different event types; virtual, hybrid, and in-person. What does each one mean for speakers? We’re here to help you understand what each event type requires and how to tailor your approach for each one!
The time commitment required to speak at an in-person event can vary greatly. Your actual speaking session may only last an hour or so, and if the event is local the time commitment is fairly minimal. You’ll need some prep time, drive time, and a couple of hours at the event site. You may opt to stay for the full event. However, if you need to fly in for the event, you’ll likely need to factor in two travel days.
One major advantage of speaking at virtual events is that they require a smaller time commitment. If you already have a busy work or speaking schedule, incorporating virtual speaking engagements can give you the opportunity to squeeze in some additional speaking opportunities.
Delivering your speech to a live audience is the classic speaking format. You will most likely be presenting in front of a live audience or speaking on a panel for a live audience. The energy from the attendees can make this form of delivery really fun! Or it can be intimidating for speakers depending on their experience and comfort levels.
You have several delivery options when speaking virtually. Live, simulive, and on-demand content delivery formats all offer speakers and audiences the ability to interact and share information virtually.
Just as you deliver your in-person sessions to a live audience, you can speak virtually to a live remote audience.
A simulive format streams a pre-recorded session to a live audience. The audience can all engage in real-time and the speaker has the option to participate through chat or a live Q&A at the end. This option is great for speakers who want to pre-record their main content. Speakers have more flexibility in their preparation and recording process with simulive. This can be great for newer speakers who are not as comfortable speaking to a live audience yet. It also allows speakers to focus fully on audience engagement instead of juggling speaking and participating in the chat.
We watch movies and tv shows on-demand, so why not let viewers watch your content on-demand? On-demand content also gives speakers the opportunity to pre-record content for on-demand viewing, or make recordings of live sessions available to those who missed them. On-demand content can also be used to provide attendees with introductory information on the speaker or the session topic before a live in-person or virtual session.
Preparation for In-Person Vs. Virtual Events
Prior to your in-person speaking engagement, you’ll need to prepare your content. Some speakers know their content and their area of specialty so well that minimal preparation is needed. However, it’s still a good idea to review your planned content and tailor it to the expected audience and event purpose. In addition to preparing your content, you also need to make appropriate travel plans.
For virtual content, you’ll still need to prepare the content, consider your audience, and possibly practice your delivery. You may have access to more information on registered attendees through your virtual event portal. Some speakers choose to make video introductions or other short virtual content available before the session, so that event attendees can learn more about you and your planned session beforehand.
Some content may be pre-recorded for on-demand viewing or simulive broadcast. If this is the case, you still need to prepare to present your content, but you have the opportunity to do multiple takes or make edits. This can take some of the pressure off of the speaker, but whether it adds preparation time or saves time will vary. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the virtual event platform. Each platform is a bit different, so it’s best to take some time to learn the features and settings of the platform before the event. Make sure you know how to engage with the audience on the platform in addition to performing standard tests like checking audio and video settings.
There are a variety of ways to get people involved in-person. You can start off with a question or greeting and encourage the audience to respond by yelling out replies, raising hands, or clapping. For example, asking “how are you all doing today?” or doing the classic “raise your hand if…” with an event or session topic-specific qualifier. You can also take questions through a Q&A portion or at designated times throughout the session. In addition, simple things like telling a joke to elicit laughs throughout the room can help boost the energy in the room.
When delivering content virtually, you need to be intentional and interactive in your audience engagement approach. People can more easily drift off or become distracted when watching content online. Incorporating interactive activities such as polling or a Q&A segment can help encourage viewer participation and keep people focused.
Chat features also help speakers monitor attendee feedback and answer questions in real-time. In a simulive event, you can be in the chat responding throughout the session. If you are delivering live virtual content, the chat can still help gauge viewer’s interests and responses to the information that you are sharing.
Reach for In-Person Vs. Virtual Events
The reach of your in-person speaking activities will depend on the size and attendance of the event. If you are speaking at a large conference, you may have the opportunity to present to a large crowd from across the country. On the other hand, many events will have smaller numbers and a more localized reach.
Virtual events remove geographic, financial, accessibility, and other barriers to attendance, so they tend to provide a much larger reach. You may have people from across the country or even across the world viewing your session.
People may come up to you after your session to ask questions or simply just to tell you how much they enjoyed listening to you! Being able to meet and talk to attendees after the session can be incredibly rewarding.
People will want to talk to you after a virtual session too. How you will do that varies based on what platform you are using to conduct your virtual speaking engagement. On Social27 Event Platform, you can use Roundtables to continue the conversation after an event. Roundtables allow groups of attendees to get together to network or have a discussion via video chat, and speakers can join or host their own Roundtables as well.
You can also direct viewers to your website or LinkedIn to connect after the event or receive more information on yourself and your work. This can be done at an in-person event too, but you’re likely to see much more traffic from a clickable link at the end of a virtual presentation than including your website on a handout or projected at the end of your in-person presentation. It’s simply easier and more convenient for the virtual audience to click over while they’re already at a computer and your content is fresh in their minds, so they’re more likely to actually do it.
Event organizers receive more viewership and interaction data from virtual events than they would at in-person events. As a speaker, a lot of this data can be helpful in evaluating how the session went. For example, you may be able to access data on whether attendees left the session early or the average length of viewership. This can help you determine where you are losing their interest and adjust accordingly for your next speaking engagement.
A Third Option
Want the best of both worlds? Try speaking at hybrid events! Hybrid events feature both virtual and hybrid components. Speakers and event organizers of hybrid events can leverage virtual content before and after an in-person component. Live in-person content can also be made viewable to remote audiences that cannot attend in-person.
Hybrid events let you leverage the unique benefits of virtual speaking engagements, while still providing the energy and excitement of a live in-person session.
Ready to Speak at a Virtual or Hybrid Event?
Social27 Event Platform gives speakers the tools they need to deliver clear and engaging content to virtual audiences. Features such as including polling, roundtables, and moderated chat can help you keep viewers engaged.
Set up a demo today to learn more about what Social27 has to offer speakers and event organizers.