Six quick wins all virtual/hybrid speakers should consider

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The virtual/hybrid speaking environment can be pretty intimidating for speakers that don’t do it weekly. Not all of us can nor should take all the pages out of the speak-well-book 📚 and try to implement it. Here are six ideas on a minimum viable virtual/hybrid speaking product—something every speaker can implement with low effort. 

Jumpstart with better light, sound, and camera gear

The equipment you use has a substantial impact on your virtual appearance. Using the built-in cameras and microphones in your laptop and no lights is part of our 2020 history and belongs there. 

An essential upgrade to an HD/4K web camera, a USB microphone, two light cubes or panels, and a wired headset make a big difference. Use your kit for all internal meetings to be super comfortable using the gear when facing an external speaking situation.

 

Dare to stare at the camera lens for great audience connections

In virtual speaking sessions, your face is often presented 4-6 feet from your viewers on a big screen. Think human close-ups in a movie. An essential part of connecting with your audience is to look at them all the time. It is natural and tempting for us as a speaker to look 👀 at them, causing the connection to get lost. 

Force yourself to stare at your camera the whole time in a session, both when you speak and when others talk. The ability to stare at the camera and limit the input stimuli you get to what you hear is challenging but valuable in creating stronger connections. Aim to deliver great cinematic experiences.

Script and memorize your talks in max three clear bullets per topic

Few use slides in virtual/hybrid sessions, which push the burden of getting the message across to you. You often put too much information on the slides and speak from what you show when using PowerPoints. Speaking without slides is different, and reading from a script does not come across as authentic. It would help if you had a new tool to prepare your talks. 

A simple way is to script and memorize your talks in a maximum of three bullets per topic. It is an excellent common ground between what you can remember as a sender and what your audience can receive. 

Find three favorite speaking formats you can master

The last 24 months have been a challenge for all virtual speakers. Most of us entered 2020 without knowing which session formats to use, how long virtual sessions should be, and what it takes to prepare. 

Find your three favorites among all available options and push to master these three. Aim for delivery in half the face-to-face delivery time and plan for preparations to be front-end heavy. 

Promote your speaking performances extensively on social platforms

Competition for your audience’s attention in digital channels is brutal. Smart speakers see every talk as an opportunity to build their personal and company brand, attract listeners to their talk, and create a connection afterward. 

Create a blueprint for promoting your talks to drive registrations, turn-outs, sharing, and post-event views. No book sells without a book tour with the author, which is also valid for virtual/hybrid speakers; your goal is to make listeners reach out on social platforms afterward and become a part of your fan base.

Rerecord your initial three minutes for a great start

When recording virtual/hybrid events, you have the opportunity to do retakes. Many speakers take pride in recording a talk in one take, with options for a whole retake or parts that did not turn out well. One take conserve flow and authenticity, and retakes eliminate errors. 

A tricky thing to master is a hot start, to shine straight out of the gate for the duration of your talk. Most speakers need a question or two to get up to their comfort speed, even after a good rehearsal. 

Set out to record all in one take, but take the opportunity to rerecord your first three minutes a second time in the end. This trick allows you to leverage your mojo at the end to give you a flying start. Few do it, but it is a powerful tool for producers and speakers to leverage. 

Additional questions for you and your team 

  1. Which areas did you find most challenging to master in 2021 – we are all still beginning the virtual/hybrid journey with plenty of room to grow. 
  2. Which of these six quick wins have I not tested yet – minor improvements can have a significant impact on your 2023 talks? 
  3. Who can I team tag with gradually improve my game – look for speaking colleagues, great external speakers for inspiration. 
  4. How do I pivot from virtual to hybrid speaking events – the big question for all speakers, where the most certain prediction is that the quality bar continues upwards. 

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