Speaker Preparation: Delivering Virtual Sessions

Speaker Best Practices

A successful virtual event relies on a great delivery of the sessions and activities that are taking place. Unlike in person events, speakers will have to rely on more than their stage presence to make the presentation a hit with attendees - they will also need to consider some best practices on working with technology to ensure the best delivery of their session.

Content

Sharing content during a presentation is a common practice of both in person and virtual events, but with virtual events the content is much more front and center to the audience that it is being shared with. Instead of viewing a slide deck or images from a large screen, attendees will be viewing it from a much smaller screen within their homes such as TV displays, computer monitors or tablet screens. This means that some small changes may need to be made to the way that content is created and presented during the session. 

  • The Speaker should be very familiar with the software that will be used for the session content as they will be responsible for presenting and advancing the slides of their presentation. 
  • Slides should stay clear of small fonts that will be difficult for an audience to read from their personal screens. 
  • Content will be shared in full screen mode, so any notes needed for the presentation will need to be kept separate from the slides. 
  • Rehearsing the content is key to minimize the amount of reading required while presenting. 


Performance

Presenting to a virtual audience is very different from a live event, and can present its own unique challenges to speakers. For most virtual sessions, the speaker will not directly see the audience and their reactions. To make sure that they are delivering the best performance, speakers should keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Add in non-verbal language
  • Keep energy levels high
  • Be aware of the pitch and speed of their voice while presenting
  • Keep a good posture - Don't lean forward or backward during the presentation


Device Setup

Computer Hardware and Software
For best results, we recommend recording directly from a computer instead of a mobile device or tablet. The speaker will also want to make sure that any software that is being used to record the session is up to date before they start, and that all relevant settings have been enabled. For example,  the following options will need be enabled for Zoom under the Video Settings: 

  • Original ratio
  • HD
  • Mirror my video
  • Touch up my appearance (best placed in he middle of the sliding scale)
  • Adjust for low light (set to auto)

All notifications and additional applications should also be closed when recording to prevent any possible distraction. We also recommend having the computer plugged in rather than relying on the battery to ensure that there aren't any issues during the session. 

Internet
Having a strong internet connection will help to avoid interruptions to the recording, and will help to make sure that the video is appearing in the best quality possible. We recommend that the speaker plugs into a hard line directly if they can, or that they locate themselves as close to the router as possible. Before recording a session, the speaker should complete a speed test to confirm that their internet speeds are sufficient. 

Camera & Audio 
Before recording, the speaker should check to make sure that their camera is clean! Fingerprints on the screen can reduce the overall quality of the video that is being captured. 

To make sure the speaker is getting the best audio results as well, they should use an external microphone or headset - this will prevent audio feedback and will help to isolate their voice. It is also best if the microphone does not obstruct the speaker's face too much while they are presenting as it will be visible during the session and may cause distraction to the audience. 

Lighting, Framing & Composition
The angle that the lighting is coming from can make a great deal of difference in the clarity of the video that is being recorded. The camera should never be working against the light, so any lighting should be coming from in front of the speaker. Keep in mind that the computer screen will also act as a source of lighting - so adjusting the overall brightness of the screen is recommended.

While the speaker is presenting, they should look into the camera as much as possible to keep a direct eye line with the audience. They should also appear in the center of the video, and make sure that there is enough space on the sides and bottom to allow for overlays that may be needed to share titles and other graphics. 


Environment

When choosing where to record the video, the speaker should consider what additional items may create distraction - to themselves or to the audience. 

  • The location should be removed from outside distractions or interruptions (including background noise)
  • Everything needed for the presentation close by, so that it is available when it is time to use it
  • The background shouldn't be too distracting and should help to set the right tone (consider removing family photos, etc. to keep privacy). 
  • Clothing should be solid colours without large logos or branding (this could conflict with sponsorships at the event), and accessories should be avoided if they may get in the way or create additional noise while moving during the presentation.