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Successful virtual/hybrid speakers invest a lot of time preparing for an event. The required preparation time, and an upfront handshake on the expected commitment, are often missing today. Here, you will learn how speakers and event organizers can set expectations on the required time speakers have to invest.
Initial brief on the engagement – 30 min
Any successful virtual/hybrid speech starts with an initial brief between speaker and organizer.s This step is an opportunity for organizers to share the event’s essentials and frame the session. Speakers use this interaction to get a clear context for the session ahead.
Sharpen up session titles and questions – 30-60 minutes
An attractive title name is essential to attract your audience. The draft title you picked initially often needs to be polished and treated like a blog post title wordsmithing. Every word can make a big difference.
Same procedure for the questions framing the session. The better-formulated questions, the better delivery. Write 2-3 alternative formulations on each question and pick the best one. Great moderators and speakers collaborate in sharpening up the questions.
Workgroup meetings with moderator and panelist peers – N-1 x 30 minutes
All sessions with more than one speaker require workgroup meetings to discuss topics and flows. N-1 is a good baseline for how many prep meetings you need for a panel with N speakers. The focus of these meetings is to:
- make speakers understand what their peers will cover
- eliminate overlaps between speakers’ perspectives and points
- for moderators to find suitable bridges between speakers
Research and write up of own talking points – individual
The most significant portion of the preparation job is the research and write-up of talk tracks. Two approaches dominate, either created proactively around speakers’ signature talks or custom-made for each speaking opportunity.
Beyond the total time consumed, this is also preparation work defining project lead times. When juggling multiple speakers for a program, this part is where you should expect your project risks to be. Close collaborations between organizers and speechwriters are essential for mitigating lead-time risks.
Personal read ups and rehearsals – 60-90 minutes
Expect the rehearsals required for virtual/hybrid speaking jobs to be longer than for a physical speaking session:
- Most speakers are less experienced with the virtual/hybrid speaking drills.
- We don’t use slides to the same extent and memorize more points.
- Delivery in shorter and snappier formats requires more preparation.
I use morning walks for rehearsing speaking sessions. An uninterrupted time where you can go through sections of your talk. You talk with your normal voice and let your gestures play out while you walk. The only drawback is that dog owners might label you as a crazy person in the neighborhood if you do a lot of talks.
Tech check – 15-30 minutes
Never bet against tech checks. The 15-30 minutes you invest is your insurance against tech issues at delivery. Many things can go wrong with various software programs and external devices connected to your laptop, and troubleshooting often requires professional support.
Do your tech check 1-2 days before your session is captured. Don’t touch any configurations after the tech check. The devils tend to be in the details, like a software upgrade.
Recording or go-live – 60-90 minutes
For live sessions, speakers join 15-30 minutes before going live. A recorded session with successful tech checks behind you can be slightly shorter.
When scheduling the recording or going live, 15 min extra before and after for a live session is a good role of thumb. Live is hard to run precisely on time. For a recorded session, allocate three times the planned recording length, leaving room for a complete retake or retakes of parts. It can sound long, but you often need it, especially if the first take runs over the planned frame.
Review and approval of recordings
Recorded sessions require approvals by the organizers and sometimes by the speakers. This job can be very intense and time-consuming for organizers of significant events where many speeches are going through editing and approvals in parallel.
Plan for three rounds. The first round focuses on getting the scope and length of sessions clear. The second round eliminates all technical issues, such as transitions, captioning, sound glitches, etc. Round three is the target go-live version circulated for sign-off by vital stakeholders. Multi-party approvals are complicated and art to master and plan for upfront.
Mail management during the engagement
A potential time consumption hog is mail management. A plan created upfront to minimize the number of emails sent to each speaker is a good strategy. Without a plan and many stakeholders on the organizing side, mail management could add to the overall time commitment and increase risks for confusion.
Questions for you and your team
- How aware are our speakers of the difference in preparation efforts between physical, live virtual, and recorded speeches?
- How much time do we expect speakers to invest in preparations for a typical session?
- What difference in effort and lead-time are required for a pre-defined versus a custom-built speech?
- What can we do to minimize the investment in time required by each speaker?
Additional reading suggestions
- If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparations; If an hour I am ready now [BLOGPOST] – QuoteInvestigator
- Why virtual events require more planning time [BLOGPOST] – Casey Gale, PCMA
- How long does it really take to plan a successful virtual event? [BLOGPOST] – Stephanie Baiocchi, Impactplus
- Prepare your speakers + performers [BLOGPOST] – TED
- 7 steps to prepare a speech in a surprisingly short time [BLOGPOST] – Elizabeth van den Bergh
- Why virtual event rehearsals matter (+ a checklist to do them right] [BLOGPOST] – SpotMe
- The four most important steps when preparing your speech [BLOGPOST] – Jon Zimmer, PresentationGuru