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Just because you are a great speaker on stage and in front of customers doesn’t mean you qualify as great on virtual scenes. A reality most event organizers and companies realized during the pandemic. In 2020 we could get away with credentials from the physical speaking world. But in 2021, the onus is on us to prove we are worth stage time on the virtual arenas.
Audiences quickly zoom away from mediocre virtual performers
Last year, anyone that could go virtual did so, often with little preparation—resulting in an audience suffering from zoom fatigue, both when it comes to the volume and quality of virtual interactions. The high volumes of parallel virtual events and meetings made zapping move from the TV room into the audiences’ home offices.
For virtual events to remain a valuable tool when offices open up, we need to raise the quality level. This journey starts with event organizers setting higher quality bars and speakers having to prove they can meet new ambition levels—all in the interest of delivering a better experience for our audience.
Speakers need to prepare to make both internal and external cuts
Only half of the field in professional golf tournaments gets to play the last two days. Expect a similar screening as virtual speaking becomes more competitive and becomes like the weekends in golf.
The first hurdle is to qualify as a virtual speaker candidate for your company. The second hurdle is about letting your company play on attractive virtual stages. Your biography is a tool to secure both these hurdles.
Take inspiration from a models’ portfolio book to upgrade your speaker’s bio
Large companies support their spokespersons with speakers’ biographies – one page with highlights from your curriculum vitae. But for the virtual stage, I suggest you incorporate some aspects of a models’ portfolio book. Models are great at collecting their best pictures and using them as a marketing tool for their next gigs.
Event organizers and your company want to eliminate the risk of poor virtual performances—a risk best mitigated by looking at how you have performed on virtual arenas in the past. Your past virtual deliveries’ overall impression becomes vital in eliminating delivery risks and necessary for you to get selected for new opportunities.
Work on collecting an exciting portfolio of virtual speeches
Take some time to find links and references to the sessions you have performed during the pandemic. Capture both deliveries at industry events and customer meetings. Ask yourself if they come across in a way you would be proud of as your bar this year. Include references to recorded as well as virtual speeches you have delivered live.
Never say no to a virtual speaking opportunity until you have a solid portfolio of speeches your can offer as references. Search actively for smaller virtual stages where you can build new reference speeches on subjects you know well. A great collection of virtual speaking references will be your most valuable asset in landing new virtual speaking gigs.
Identify peculiar numbers that can make your bio stand out
Classic speakers’ bios often rely on words to tell your story where you went to school, what roles you have had and what you have accomplished. Numbers are limited to the length of your professional career. This type of bio makes you blend in well, but the demand to stand out is higher in the virtual speaking world.
We can all find exciting numbers of our professional and private life:
- Replace years of experience with months, weeks, and days. Somewhere you have a special milestone to leverage.
- List places/countries where you have lived. The number tells us something about your history. Being the fifth generation living in Kansas is as exciting as having lived in 5 different locations.
- As a speaker, you are likely well-traveled. Tell us about how many countries or airports you have visited.
- How many cars have you had? Do you change often or run them into the 100,000-mile territory.
Identifying a few numbers can make your virtual bio more exciting and provide input to social media campaigns around your next virtual speaking gig.
Start building a comprehensive modular bio for fast turn around of requests
I want to suggest you build your bio in two steps. One more comprehensive with all details you need on the journey from initial interaction until you are on the virtual stage. Covering the range of subjects your or your communications department interact with organizers around
- What does your personal brand stand for? One of the hardest questions to answer but a key to your long-term virtual speaking success.
- Who are you, and why are you exciting? Do not just articulate what you do? As discussed in a previous blog post, we need to strive to be movie stars on stage to keep our audience engaged.
- What type of virtual speeches you do? Stick to the ones you manage well as a base and branch out selectively.
- Which platforms do you manage for live sessions? A frequent issue is to jump between platforms in a home office where you are both speaker and tech support.
- Promotional pictures, classic headshots combined with in-action speaking shots.
- Sessions you can pull of tomorrow. The 3-5 themes that represent the core of your capabilities. Easy to sell and easy to deliver.
- Micro bios of different lengths for promotions, announcements, and marketing on social media, come in handy.
An entertaining qualification bio ready for external scrutiny
Different virtual speaking opportunities need different facts. The modular bio’s purpose is complete, but the biography you use externally is about spark interest in you as a speaker and prove your capabilities.
Two pages is a suitable target length: one more traditional side and one with links and references to previous performances. Extend the private section of your bio beyond what you have done in the past. A virtual audience is more curious about the complete person, not just your professional side. Our virtual speaking references, especially the ones we are proud of, will be thin to start with so add physical speaking references, media interviews for articles, and written contributions you have made.
Is it worth the time and effort just described?
Professional speaking is a pay-for-play business, where you either pay or get paid to speak. A big check can get you on a big stage, and another check can get a great speaker to your event. The virtual speaking arena opens up a set of new trajectories. The type of bio described here can earn you virtual speaking slots in a world where credential rather than cash is king. Virtual speakers are also an exciting trading currency between companies.
Additional reading suggestions
This blogpost intends to build on existing excellent biography insights rather than to replace them. Here is a collection of resources for deeper dives into the art of biography writing:
- How to write a great speaker bio [BLOGPOST] – by Presentation Skills Academy
- How to write an awesome speaker’s bio or introduction [VIDEO] – by Lauren Sergy
- Speaker bio: Writing a speaker bio that captivates event planners in 5 easy steps [BLOGPOST] – by Taylorr Payne at Speker Flow
- How to write a speaker bio that will attract attendees [BLOGPOST] – by EventBrite
- Create a professional business bio that attracts clients and virtual speaking gigs [WORKBOOK VIDEO] – By Nancy Juetten and Bryan S Arnold
- Modeling portfolio 101 [BLOGPOST] – by My Model Reality