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Organizers and speakers well understand plans and priorities for physical events. As a speaker, you have the whole time up until the event for preparation, and many start late, update slides until the day before delivery and rehearse on the flight out. Events involving recorded virtual/hybrid speeches need a flipped project plan, where speakers must be ready to do all the heavy lifting in the first half of a project.
Physical events are less demanding for experienced speakers
An experienced speaker finds physical speeches and customer interaction less demanding. You and your team start with a solid story anchor in a master slide deck, and everybody is familiar with the drills of tweaking slides. You have extensive delivery experience and are confident you can deliver a well-rehearsed talk or even wing it if forced to do so. You are used to putting off preparations close to delivery to use the best and latest insights and facts. You interact with the audience on stage and have learned to be flexible and adjust your talk to the circumstances.
The project realities for recorded virtual/hybrid speeches is different
Speakers and event organizers use recorded sessions to eliminate risks and increase quality at important events. Recordings allow organizers to eradicate threats with disturbances to home broadband/WiFi Connections and speakers running over their time allocations. Speakers get an opportunity to do retakes, and the final editing ensures that you hit your session’s target length.
The only real challenge is starting a lot earlier, especially if you are more than one speaker in a session. Not a little bit, but way earlier than speakers do for physical events and face the harsh reality that you can not wing it in virtual/hybrid sessions. You prepare yourself early and extensively, or you fail. Starting late or winging-it is never an option, and all speakers can not expect to record the last day.
Your new reality is to deliver in the first half of the project
A rule of thumb for virtual/hybrid speech is to expect you have to make all scripting, rehearsing, and recordings in the first half of the project. If it is six weeks to go live, you should have recorded within three weeks.
If you are project managing a virtual/hybrid event, your biggest challenge is to get all speakers to buy into the need for a flipped time plan with all action upfront. It is an arduous task to be firm towards senior and external speakers on what it takes to succeed.
A front end heavy project relies on great supporting tools and tricks to help speakers
You will find a few tools handy to enable the heavy lifting in the first half of the project:
- If a speaker is great in physical deliveries but less experienced with virtual/hybrid, you can consider pairing them up with a moderator to ease the preparation burden on speakers.
- Create a blueprint in advance for talk tracks and how to script questions. You will be short of time for any aspects of framing stories and getting speakers recording ready once plans move to projects.
- Approval processes add to the complexity and plan for the details in the sign-off of questions to use and the completed recordings.
Anything that takes you from initial contact in the speaker outreach process to the actual recording is worth pursuing. Inefficiencies in handling this as an organizer quickly multiply with the number of speakers you are juggling.
A good project baseline that will keep your stress levels down
You are now about to kick off the execution of your multi-speaker project. A task where all contributors are in charge of creating an exciting short film festival. The excitement will come from a mix of speakers, topics, and formats presented with high quality.
Eight weeks represent the bare minimum for project execution, counting from the moment all planned speakers are confirmed. A window requires that all speakers already have a strong story and tune for a specific session format. During the eight weeks, you will cover five key steps:
- Week 1 is about clarifying the story angle and delivery formats in collaboration between the organizer and speakers.
- Week 2 covers refining the story, question clarity, and key talking points. It also covers finding a suitable recording spot in speakers’ homes and a rehearsal session with all involved speakers in a session.
- Week 3/4 is heavy on speakers with individual practicing, to the point where your dog can tell your story, get all technology connected, and then record in one or two takes. Seasoned virtual/hybrid speakers should aim to record in week three and leave week four for those needing all the available preparation time.
- Week 5-6 is the video editing weeks, where lead times should allow for three review rounds up to sign-off
- Week 7-8 is for programming your virtual event platform. This step is not as straightforward as you think, and shortcuts here can lead to delivery problems when you go live.
The first two weeks can be significantly longer depending on the maturity of the stories that speakers bring to the table. You need a strong content person on your team who can vet stories along the road and avoid having to save too many sessions when you are in the recording window.
Questions for you and your team
- How experienced are our speakers with the workflows required for recorded sessions?
- What tools do we have to secure the necessary preparation work runs smoothly
- How many weeks do we need to add to the eight-week minimum baseline to reach a point of solid stories in place?
- Which technology risks do we see with the chosen production environment?
- What can we do to record or most solid sessions first to secure they do not end up on the critical project line?
- Are we mature enough as event organizers and speakers for recorded sessions with much action in the first project half?
Additional reading suggestions
- The ultimate guide to virtual event planning [BLOGPOST] – Maria Waida, Wrike
- How long does it take to plan a successful virtual event [BLOGPOST] – by Stephanie Baiocchi, Impact
- Elements of virtual events no one is talking about [BLOGPOST] – by Sennova https://www.senovva.com/2021/04/13/virtual-events/
- How to prepare speakers for virtual events [BLOGPOST] – Nancy Zavada, MeetGreen
- Virtual event planning checklist [TEMPLATE] – by Mount Saint Mary’s University