With the business of speakers curtailed here is how to find a top virtual keynote speaker to wow attendees at your next virtual meeting, event, conference or summit. Today the Top Celebrity virtual keynote speakers and virtual emcees have never been more in-demand but selecting the right one can be a challenge.
Virtual meetings, presentations, and events if they are handled well can be a highly effective way to motivate inspire your employees. However, we’ve all had to sit through those rather long and boring zoom virtual meetings, conferences, summits, webinars and events which quite frankly deliver a very low return on investment in terms of time and money.
How can you create a more inspiring and interactive virtual meeting, conference, summit, or c-suite briefing?
How can you find the best virtual keynote speaker to inspire and engage your audience?
As Canada’s Leading Virtual Speakers’ Bureau, we have had the pleasure to deliver both many virtual keynotes and presentations for clients including Google, BMO, TD Bank, IBM, and Apple.
Meanwhile as a Virtual Speakers’ Bureau, who has worked with CEO’s, athletes, and celebrity speakers for multiple online summits we have also had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s top virtual keynote speakers.
In this briefing we would like to share with you what we have learned and provide you with tips to create more immersive virtual presentations, conferences, or events.
START WITH WHY
The management guru Peter Drucker once said, “the most common source of mistakes in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answer rather than the right question”.
Often when our agents speak with clients who are pivoting to virtual events or conferences, they want to immediately discuss the format. However, it’s important to first ask a series of questions to really understand why you are doing virtual events in the first place.
So, let’s approach your virtual event design in a more curious, creative, innovative and questioning way.
WHY VIRTUAL EVENTS
Why should you do a virtual event in the first place? Why shouldn’t we hold off and wait to do a traditional in-person event next quarter or next year?
We all know that COVID-19 has resulted in global travel bans and made it more difficult for you to bring your team, clients, and partners together to share insights, opportunities, updates and ideas.
However, there is a more strategic reason for pivoting to virtual events and it relates to one of the biggest challenges global companies have today reducing carbon footprint. Also, employees are in huge need for support from Burnout and Stress.
Now don’t get us wrong there are many other positive side effects for making your next event virtual or hybrid. If you are reading this and you are likely a senior executive you know how valuable your time is. If you are based in Singapore and have to attend your company leadership conference in London then you are looking at 48 hours travel time not to mention the jetlag. Virtual events instantly save you travel and opportunity costs while in the process enable you to inspire, educate and inform your key employees.
And while we are on the topic of savings we shouldn’t discount the fact that large live in-person events eat up a huge amount of financial and human resources. Virtual events cost a fraction of producing live events as they benefit from:
- Lower cost per attendee or participant
- Flexibility (virtual events can range from 20 to 20,000 attendees for the same costs)
- Speed (you can create, launch and deliver a virtual conference in under 30 days)
- Accessibility (watch anywhere and on any device)
- Evergreen (you can turn the recordings into training content for your employees)
- Lower fixed costs (no travel, hotel, venue hire, food costs)
- Confidentiality (control exactly who has access to the online content)
- Global (easy to bring in virtual keynote speakers and panelists from around the world)
DIFFERENT TYPES OF VIRTUAL MEETINGS & EVENTS
Let’s assume you know you are going to make your next event, conference or leadership meeting virtual. Now you can ask a series of questions to help you define what kind of virtual event is right for your audience. The most popular types of virtual meetings and events are:
- Virtual Summits or Conferences
- Hybrid Events (more about that later)
- Virtual Trade Shows
- Virtual Company Meetings (e.g. C-Suite Briefings, AGM’s, Leadership Meetings, Sales Kickoffs)
- Online Learning
- Virtual Workshops, Masterclasses and Webinar Series
- Product Launches
With our experience working with keynote speakers we believe Hybrid Events provide the most flexibility and highest ROI for the kinds of clients that bring our speakers in to deliver keynote speeches (mostly mutli-national companies, industry associations and national governments).
The new trend that may develop in 2021 are Hybrid Virtual Events. A Hybrid Virtual event is a conference, company meeting, or trade show that combines live, in-person elements (socially distance of course) with virtual components. For example, a business conference that hosts an in-person gathering in London and live-streams its keynotes, workshops and sessions to a global virtual audience would be considered a hybrid event.
Both the speakers and the attendees can be socially distances in-person or virtual. So for example you may have three speakers who present in-person (in a studio) and two who present virtually from their home studio or office. Likewise the attendees or audience can be in-person or virtual. Some may decide to travel to attend in-person while others will attend virtually because of time, costs, visa or health constraints. These all-weather hybrid events work well during economic storms, political gales, global pandemics and travel bans.
VIRTUAL EVENT EMCEE / HOST
Perhaps one of the least understood elements of virtual events is that more of your event budget will be spent on your on-screen talent (emcee, keynote speakers, panel moderators) and less on technical event production. Unlike in-person events, virtual events don’t require large audio and visual setups. You will likely choose one of the popular virtual event platforms (e.g. Zoom, CISCO Webex, Adobe Connect) based upon your requirements.
Choosing a professional virtual event emcee or host is critical to the success of your event. The good ones combine the presentational and improvisational abilities of a live TV News anchor with the technical skills of a SpaceX flight engineer. Many of them have backgrounds in live broadcast or TV presenting so they have the ability to look like a swan gliding on a calm lake while at the same time making the virtual attendee oblivious to the technical issues going on beneath the water line.
Many of our speakers have hosted and emceed multiple large-scale virtual conferences and summits with the largest attracting over 22,000 people across 80 countries. Different formats that they can work with is a facilitated fireside chats and panels with over 500 experts from the worlds of business, politics, media, arts and technology.
A good virtual emcee will spend days in content and technical preparation for an event. They are the glue that will hold your virtual event together.
VIRTUAL EVENT STUDIO TECHNOLOGY
Regardless of whether you hire a top virtual keynote speaker or an experienced virtual emcee the Speaker should have a broadcast quality office studio. If you look at the professional keynote speakers who do a lot of virtual events it will not be uncommon that they will have spent $30,000-$150,000 on their in-house studios.
There are three main types of studio setups or looks that virtual keynote speakers and emcees will use:
- Virtual Presenter Setup
- Virtual Trainer Setup
- Virtual Keynote Speaker Setup
The Virtual Presenter Setup is used mostly by professional emcees and hosts. It is the classic person in front of the bookcase look and works well whether your on-screen talent is giving a c-suite briefing, simple speech or media interview.
Essentially all the presenter, host or guest needs is a computer, a webcam, natural light or a beauty light ring, a good external microphone, some earbuds, simple backdrop and a little makeup.
We recommend that our keynote speakers have the Virtual Trainer Setup. These are used mostly by those who deliver training virtually such as a virtual workshop, masterclass or webinar series. When some of the best speakers deliver virtual keynote speeches they prefer to stand, partly for aesthetic reasons but mainly because it allows them the energy high for longer sessions.
Whether your L&D/HR team deliver in-house virtual training or you bring in an external virtual trainer I would suggest a setup which in addition to Virtual Presenter Setup would also include a second camera, a widescreen TV, whiteboard or flipcharts, better lighting, wireless lavaliere microphone and in-ear monitor. Let us explain why you need those.
The human eye likes a little variety to keep us interested. This is especially the case with virtual presentations. By having two cameras you can switch between a wide shot, a close-up and your Powerpoint presentation. Including a widescreen TV (to show your slides), whiteboard or flipcharts gives the trainer the tools to improve interaction with the virtual attendee.
As the virtual trainer is standing and not sitting, they need to be able to move around without any cables trailing behind them. A wireless lavalier microphone and a broadcast quality in-ear monitor allows the presenter to add more movement and dynamics to their training. It also enables them to hear any direction coming from an event director or live translation during Q&A sessions.
A high- quality studio setup like this is only used by the top virtual keynote speakers that ProSpeakers.com recommends. So, when selecting a speaker for your next virtual event it pays to ask a little about the speaker’s studio setup and ideally see some video footage.
INTERACTIVITY DURING VIRTUAL EVENTS
This is one of the biggest differences between in-person and top virtual keynote speakers. With in-person keynotes it tends to be more about ‘the sage on the stage’. With virtual keynotes however you also need a speaker who can be ‘the guide on the side’.
Simply put, virtual meetings or events require you to add more interactivity if you want to use the medium well. Here are just a few ways that we suggest our clients build interactivity into their virtual events:
- Polling Technology
- Breakout Rooms (allows you to split your audience into smaller rooms for them to interact with each other)
- Virtual Q&A’s (see below)
- Small Chat Rooms
- Gamification of the meeting (badges, awards)
- Highlighting Top Comments
And those are just ideas for adding ways to interact with employees during the event itself. You can also get very creative about increasing interaction between the attendees pre and post the virtual event. It’s not uncommon that a client will ask our top Virtual Speakers to give a keynote and then afterwards do a small virtual meet and greet session with the event sponsors or VIP’s.
BEST VIRTUAL KEYNOTE SPEAKER TIMING/DURATION
If in doubt, go shorter. In the past we would often be asked to give a 60 minute in-person keynote; 45 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes of Q&A with the audience. This format doesn’t work quite as well in the virtual world.
As well as Zoom fatigue there is an even better reason for doing shorter virtual keynotes. Questions! You see in a 1,000 person live event you might get 5-10% of people who raise their hands to ask a question. With a virtual presentation it’s not uncommon to have 20-30% of attendees who want to ask the speaker a question. This is good news for the audience, speaker and event organiser.
For example we had virtual keynote where there were 500 people in attendance. Instead of doing a 50min presentation and 15min Q&A we suggested to the event organiser to do a 30min presentation and 30min Q&A. After the speaker gave the half hour keynote they received nearly 100 questions from the participants. Thankfully they had also hired a great virtual emcee who was able to see the common questions and they managed to answer 20 questions in the time available.
Our recommendation is go shorter for the keynote part but give your speaker lots of time for Question &Answers.
There are three types of preparation that we suggest our keynote speakers put into every virtual keynote that the best Virtual Speakers give.
Firstly, when a client has booked the keynote speaker we will arrange do a pre-event call with the client. On the call both the ProSpeakers.com rep and the speaker ask a LOT of questions including but not limited to:
- What are your virtual event objectives?
- What is the event theme?
- Who will be attending ?
- What is the Audience demographics?
- Which speakers have their audience liked in the past and why?
- What is keeping their audience members awake at night?
- What have been the most significant events in your company/industry this year?
- Who is speaking before and after the Virtual Speaker?
- Who is the Virtual event emcee or host?
- What type of event format is it? (virtual conference keynote, c-suite briefing)
- What technology platform are they using?
- How do they want the audience to feel at the end of the keynote?
- Will you need to review the presentation in advance? If so, by when?
- What date/time do you want to schedule the technical check for?
Secondly when then the speaker starts researching the company and the trends within the client’s industry. The best keynote speakers also look at the annual reports for both the company and their top three competitors.
Thirdly we will do a technical check (usually the day before) where the speaker will walk the client through their presentation and they check any slides, videos, polling questions and the final agenda and timings. For very high-profile virtual events the speaker will also offer to pre-record the entire keynote in case they have any technical issues on the day.
VIRTUAL SPEAKER CHECKLIST & NEXT STEPS
Hopefully we have helped demystify the process of producing successful virtual events and working with top virtual keynote speakers and emcees.
If you are interested having someone from Canada’s Leading Virtual Speakers Bureau ProSpeakers provide a list of the top virtual keynote speaks or virtual emcee please contact us HERE.
ABOUT PROSPEAKERS.COM – CANADA’S VIRTUAL KEYNOTE SPEAKERS BUREAU
ProSpeakers.com Speakers’ Bureau is a trusted and reliable resource for Virtual keynote speakers, business speakers, motivational speakers, political speakers, Virtual celebrity speakers & entertainers. We provide access to a full range of professional speakers for Virtual Corporate meetings, national associations, conferences and corporate spokespeople.
We also arrange spokespeople and brand endorsements, as we represent a range of talent from media personalities to athletes, chefs, medical experts, lifestyle spokespeople and industry experts.
Founder Heather MacLean and business partner, Kim Smither met over 20 years ago while attending a post graduate program. While they immediately discussed starting a business, their lives took them in different directions, and both went on to pursue successful careers in Global Sports Marketing.
In 2017, the two friends decided it was time to combine forces. Building on Heather’s unprecedented 10 years of success in running ProSpeakers, Kim returned from working overseas to join Heather and bring additional global expertise to our clients.
Founded on their long-term friendship and business expertise they combine a shared appreciation for business, sport and laughter to set the stage for ProSpeakers today.
Heather MacLean – Founder & President |PROSPEAKERS.com
In 2008, Heather MacLean purchased the small company – ProSpeakers – with the vision to harness the power of great speakers and influencers for her clients. From its humble beginnings, she has built it into one of the top Speaker agencies in Canada.
A graduate of the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business Administration program, Heather has continued her learning throughout her career, including the completion of executive education courses at the Harvard Law School and post graduate courses in Event Marketing.
As the former Head of Global Sponsorship and Event Marketing for InBev-Anhueser Busch and Labatt Breweries of Canada she is adept at navigating the world of preeminent sports marketing including the IOC, National Hockey League, National Football League, Canadian Olympic Association, Toronto Blue Jays and FIFA.
Combining her knowledge from both the client and agency side of the business Heather uses her years of insight and negotiation expertise to deliver results through some of the finest speakers and influencers across North America.
Heather lives in Toronto with her two boys, Charlie and Griffin and dog Siri. In her spare time, she is an active athlete in cycling, stand-up paddle boarding and is a nationally ranked squash player and champion.