Virtual/hybrid speaking is creative teamwork, fulfilled by energized specialists

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Creating virtual/hybrid events is a team sport between event organizers and speakers and the team backing up each speaker. In this post, you will learn the roles required to deliver an excellent virtual/hybrid event on both sides of the equation. There are no clear boundaries between the outlined roles, but you get a detailed perspective on what it takes to deliver. 

Connecting speakers and organizers 

As discussed earlier in this series, the preparation work required for a virtual/hybrid event is more comprehensive than an in-person event. 

For most involved, our experiences from virtual events come from the last two years, and for hybrid events, we are in the middle of pivoting towards a moving target. 

Frequent virtual/hybrid speakers with a great support structure in place 

A few things stand out when you look at regular virtual/hybrid speakers. The following is worth copying

  • a portfolio of themes/topics for external speeches ready for instant delivery
  • the ability to deliver in multiple virtual/hybrid formats 
  • access to good technology for delivery from home or a permanent micro-studio in the office. 

Great virtual/hybrid speakers have evolved their speaking game from delivering theatrical to cinematic experiences. They have a portfolio of pre-defined speeches in their field of expertise, which is essential to reduce preparation work. They nurture their ability to manage multiple formats through frequent deliveries. 

The support structure behind speakers varies with the seniority of the speaker and the resources allocated to your speaker’s program. The following five roles are foundational to allow senior speakers to do what they do best, to speak well. 

  • Personal Admin for logistics and scheduling.
  • Speechwriter or content creator, pulling together story elements and crafting scripts. 
  • Tech wizards secure access to the right tech and set up for remote capture. 
  • Marketing interface – for speech promotions by speakers’ home organization. 
  • Communications interface – secure messages fit the audience and final sign-off. 

Personal Admin 

Virtual/hybrid events have more moving parts, and great PAs evolve to fulfill two key roles. 

  • Scheduling, growing in complexity with the number of speakers in a given session 
  • The two-way exchange of data points is essential for speakers and organizers. 

When one person can handle both, you eliminate risks and make the whole project run smoothly. 

Speechwriters/content creators

This function plays a central role in speaking engagements and works closely with the speaker. Today more focused on storytelling and less about shuffling and pimping slides. 

  • Framing of sessions and alignment to speakers’ presentation style. 
  • Questions/topics to cover – for framing sessions 
  • Session synopsis – for inclusion in the event program
  • Talking points – for memorization or teleprompter use 

A great content person has crisp templates that the speaker is familiar with and never builds a speaking engagement from a blank sheet of paper. 

Technology wizard 

The technology bar has been rising during the pandemic. Laptop cameras and microphones do not deliver the required quality, and professional TV crews are not for everybody. Your technology wizard is invaluable to:

  • secure all required light, audio, and video technology. 
  • configuration and set-up 
  • main technology interface to the production team
  • tech support during recording, streaming 

Aspire to find a technology level that meets your needs and expect it to be a moving target to increase the quality gradually. 

Marketing interface / Social media team 

Think about this role as promoting the speaker’s participation at a given event. 

  • prime interface to the organizer’s marketing team 
  • activation of promotion material received from organizers in owned channels 
  • create and activate speaker promotion material in own brand for owned media channels. 

Each speaker deserves excellent promotions for their next performance, and parts of the job land in the speaker’s home organization. 

Communications team 

Continue to play a vital role in managing all rights issues for a speech and secure speakers speak within given frames. 

  • managing speaker release forms
  • leading communications and legal reviews 
  • sign-off of talking points 
  • review the recorded sessions before sign-off
  • promote own speakers on social media 

When speechwriters and communications teams work as one, you save time, especially in the closing stages. 

Organizing side 

The organizing side is even more comprehensive for virtual and hybrid events, with the following key roles 

  • agenda responsible 
  • scheduling and set-up responsible 
  • speaker outreach
  • content owners for each session 
  • Virtual/hybrid production team 
  • hosts/moderators 

Agenda responsible – creative director 

This role involves a lot of heavy lifting. 

  • Leading topic research ahead of the conference to secure a great fit between audience needs and speaker direction. 
  • Managing selection of companies, topics, and speakers to feature in the program 
  • Wordsmith program headlines 
  • Select suitable session formats 
  • Interface to session content creators
  • Convert plan to an executable run-of-show

This role is a full-time job for an event with more than ten speakers. A job closely linked to speaker outreach. A mix of a top-down and a bottom-up role. Never a dull moment. Some interface to speakers’ content creators. 

Scheduling/set-up responsible 

A broad program management role involving

  • Managing schedules, all procurements, and budgets. 
  • Securing all input from the speaker; bio, headshots, release forms, etc. 
  • Scheduling briefs, rehearsals, tech checks, recording, or live sessions. 
  • Connecting all PAs 

Project management-intensive role managing internal, speaker and production interfaces. Some interface to speakers’ PAs. 

Content owner per session 

For medium and large events, the overall agenda responsible need to offload session details

  • script session topics to cover 
  • prime interface to speaker’s content interface 
  • evolve content from initial brief/teaser to ready for sign-off before go-live/recording 

There is no need to go super deep but own headline, synopsis, and topics to cover. A job starts at the initial content brief and ends after the final delivery sign-off. 

Speaker outreach 

An extensive job with long lead times, working closely with the agenda responsible. A bit of a magician converting wishlists of great companies, exciting topics, and dream names into real confirmed names in the program. As part of this role you:

  • develop a speaker candidate list 
  • secure inside relationship with the speaker 
  • lead outreach with/without connector 
  • hand-off to content and scheduling peers. 

Your speaker outreach manager starts from many connections to potential speakers and knows how to close relationship gaps quickly. You will fight an uphill battle if you don’t start this activity before your content is frozen. 

Marketing /social media responsible/s

A role serves two essential purposes: first, market the event to speaker candidates, and second, bring in an audience crowd. To fulfill this role, you need:

  • Event briefs 
  • Invitations and registration emails, and landing pages
  • Speaker promotion assets 
  • Social promotions assets 

Great virtual/hybrid marketers make it easy for speakers to understand what they sign up for and drive a big part of the promotion towards potential attendees. These people are great at engaging the speakers’ marketing team in the promotion efforts. 

Virtual/hybrid event producer

The role of making or breaking an event. Few have these capabilities in-house and select a suitable production partner to:

  • secure light, audio and video equipment, and associated staff 
  • make camera angle selections 
  • direct captures/recordings 
  • operate remotely, when required, or for part of the team

These are TV professionals securing all video has great framing, high quality, and exciting transitions. 

Master video editor ✍️ 

The video editor role is part of the production but requires extra attention as it is a vital activity late in the process. See the video editor as the chef turning all captured video and related pictures and graphics into the final deliverable. For recorded sessions, this responsibility involves: 

  • Multi-stream integration 
  • Including graphics 
  • Adding captioning 

Expect three revisions for each session from the video editor. Revision one for getting flow and direction right. Revision two for finding all minor details. Revision three is for sign-off and showtime. 

Host/moderators 

The final role you want to staff is the host or moderator role. One person or a duo opens and closes the event and provides interstitials between sessions. What you can expect here is that it is:

  • often a live role, for recorded and live sessions 
  • high energy and talking in short stints 
  • summarizing sessions and teeing up the next one. 
  • Integrating audience interactions such as questions and answers, polls, etc. 

This role secures that your event is free from commercial breaks when the audience zaps out. 

Questions for you and your team 

  1. what roles do we need to staff in the speakers’ team or as event organizers? 
  2. Which people do we have access to, and how do we use them best? 
  3. What are the strong and weak links in our team? 
  4. What professional services do we need to procure? 
  5. What can we leverage from our library of event templates with experiences from previous virtual/hybrid events? 
  6. How do we ensure the whole team sees what it takes to deliver and the required teamwork? 

Additional reading suggestions 

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