Virtual events have become commonplace over the last couple of years, with many associations moving their event programmes online. As many have experienced first-hand, presenting virtually is very different to standing on a stage. In most cases, you will not see your audience when presenting virtually. Speakers are responsible for making sure the microphone works, unlike on-site where you’ll be in the hand of an AV technician. The list goes on!
It’s usual to feel nervous before presenting virtually, so we recommend taking some time to make sure you are relaxed, have a glass of water to hand, and close your emails, MS Teams, or anything else that could cause a distraction so you can focus completely on your presentation. We’ve included three additional tips to ensure you feel prepared for the next time you’re invited to speak.
Make sure you look and sound great
Making sure you sound great is essential to keeping the attention of your audience. If they are struggling to hear you, it’s likely they’ll miss parts of your session. Invest in a headset with a microphone and test with the platform you’ll be using on the day before the event. If you’d prefer not to use a headset, you could use an external/ directional microphone. The key here is to avoid using your laptop microphone if you can!
Take a moment to think about where you’re going to present from on the day of the event. Is there enough light in the room? If possible, try and position yourself close to natural daylight so your audience can see you clearly. Make sure the light is in front of you, rather than behind. Position the webcam at eye level to give the impression that you’re looking at your audience.
Internet speed is everything
Your internet connection can make or break your presentation. Ensure that you run a speed test before the event. You can do this through several websites, and it only takes 2 minutes. Simply Google “speed test”. If you’re looking at anything less than 5mbps download and/ or 2mbps upload, you’ll want to consider a different location. Slow internet can cause your audio and video to buffer or even cut out completely so it’s always worth checking in advance of the day.
When you’ve established a good internet connection, plug your device directly into your router with an ethernet cable. Wired connections are always more stable than Wi-Fi. It’s likely the option will be available in your office, but if you’re at home you may need to invest in an ethernet cable and position yourself near the router.
Even the fastest internet connection can fail on the day. It’s always sensible to plan for the worst, so we recommend having your phone close by. You can create a personal hotspot from your smart phone which will allow you to connect to a mobile network via your phone, rather than Wi-Fi. Before you go live, simply turn your personal hotspot on and make sure you can connect to it successfully. Then swap back to your wired connection before the session starts. Your personal hotspot will be there for you if you need it. Be careful if you have a limited data package with your phone provider as streaming will use a large chunk of your available data.
This gives plenty of time to check the internet connection again, make sure your audio and video can be heard and seen clearly and for any last questions you have for the events manager. Usually everyone in the session will be invited early, so if you haven’t met the chairperson this is a great opportunity to say hello before going live. 15 minutes is usually enough time before the session goes live, but it depends on the number of speakers and complexity of your session.
Take time to unwind
It’s easy to finish a virtual presentation and immediately look at emails, check messages and look at your to-do list. It’s important to unwind after participating in a virtual event to avoid feeling unproductive, tired or stressed later in the day. We recommend taking at least 30 minutes to give yourself a break from looking at a screen, stretch your legs, get some fresh air, or make yourself a well-deserved cup of tea.