Adapted by Heather MacLean from online materials
After almost four months glued to our screens inside our homes, being teachers and camp counselors and not being able to get sweaty at our local yoga classes, we’re way too tired of watching the same old videoconferences calls and Zoom events . It’s official: Zoom fatigue is a real thing.
For an online learning and training community, the time is now to innovate and shift our virtual keynote presentations. Why?
While it might be until the new year before we can meet in large numbers for in-person conferences with keynote speakers, there are more options to connect and learn online than ever before. The presentation on “whatever” might not be as fun as going out to dinner for the first time since March or taking the kids to the park — especially since your 1 p.m. webinar audience knows it’s being recorded for later. Honestly, how many times have you watched it later?
Competition is fierce right now, as a meeting planner and host you need to entice your audience to win them back to the screen. If you want to spice up your virtual meeting, here are eight things to try and two to avoid.
- Featuring Big Names
When there was less competition for eyes and the audience was locked in, almost any person could pass as a presenter. Something (or someone) talking to you was better than nothing. Today, however, we’re finding that bestselling authors and big-name celebrities, athletes and reality TV stars are popular choices to attract the attention of an audience. Some ideas from the ProSpeakers roster of talent are:
- Adding Diversity
People are tired of the typical middle-aged white male presenter. Diversify your speakers — age, gender, ethnicity — to resonate with your diverse audience.
- Using A Moderator
The one-person band is no longer interesting. Get someone to host the event. A funny, lively moderator can spice up the Q&A and add a different point of view to the content.
- Involving the Audience
Solicit questions from your audience in advance to drive participation. People love to hear their ideas addressed in a talk. By including the audience from the beginning, you’ll keep them tuning in — and staying put.
Online polling and surveys during a presentation also work well.
People love to win free things. Have a raffle tied to a question. Use online gift cards to reward participants. Pepper the raffles throughout the talk.
- Including Guest Appearances
Enliven your event with a guest appearance. Consider adding musicians, comedians or magicians to warm up the audience prior to the presentation, during breaks or as an added bonus at the end. ProSpeakers talent that fits this bill is as follows:
- Pre-recorded Sessions
While a live virtual event can be more interactive, a pre-recorded session can look more professional and be more exciting. When you prerecord and edit, you can cut out the slow spots in the presentation and add in more sizzle to the visuals.
Or you could do a hybrid of recorded and live.
- Hosting A Virtual Event Party
One reason many people go to events is to get out of the house (or office) and away from the kids. Networking and partying are a big part of live conferences. After the presentation, invite people to an “after-party.”
For instance, you could send out “quarantini” kits to VIPs, have a cool DJ and start a dance party. Use breakout rooms/social lounges so people can hang out as a group or split off in twos.
Contact ProSpeakers for more ideas and cool online ideas for Virtual Event Parties:
- Virtual Backgrounds
While virtual backgrounds can look fun, they can also appear cheesy. Some might work for a pre-recorded session with controlled lighting, but most look out of place at a live virtual event. Instead of adding to the event, they distract from the talk.
- Boring Introductions
Nothing kills a good talk more than a poor introduction. How many times have you felt excited listening to someone read from a page about college degrees, accomplishments and the blah, blah, blah (or the yada yada)? Listening to a résumé never worked when we were at live events, so it sure won’t work now.
For a good introduction, provide your emcee with some ideas for a story they can tell. The emcee can share how they are familiar with you and your work and what your work means to them. It’s all about connecting with people through story — not data and facts.