Currently the amount of video calls, zoom calls, conference calls, webinars etc, is becoming overwhelming and as a communicator for your organisation, you need to be heard about the noise and clatter. There’s simply so much online. The competition for getting your voice heard online may get lost because we are all online ‘experts’ now.
Since communicating online is new territory for a lot of us, the standard of communicating online will need to improve so that your message can be heard and implemented.
With the onset of COVID-19, the reliance on communicating differently has been one of the turning points for our society during COVID-19. This has happened in the past and has changed for the better.
During the depression President Franklin De Roosevelt embraced the technology of that day, radio, and delivered his very first fireside chats on radio about the banking crisis, eight days after taking office (March 12, 1933). These fireside chats turned into a series of talks given by him and by doing that, he went over the heads of the press and he talked directly to the American people.
Queen Elizabeth delivered her first televised Christmas Broadcast or 'Queen's Speech' in 1957, it was her first televised Christmas Broadcast and it changed how the Royal family communicated from there on. So, like, then, our present way of communicating has changed because of COVID-19 and we must change with it.
Before COVID-10, as a Speaker, Thought Leader or CEO, you may have simply spoken on stage with a microphone and used the stage as your ‘anchor’ now the process is not as simple. In order to be competent presenting online, a completely different set of skills is required. However, this can be mastered, if just a few of the basic requirements are taken care of in the first few presentations, then as you get more proficient you can add in the ‘bells and whistles’.
Below are a few basic ways we suggest you can communicate better and avoid some of the obvious pitfalls on zoom or other communication platforms.
However, remember the audience is there to hear from you and learn from you as a Speaker and that is more important than any technology. Simple things like shorter sentences, how you present yourself, along with your company branding, such as branded backgrounds & slide decks is also important.
1 - Positioning of yourself
Position yourself so that most of the light is coming from in front of you (behind your monitor), instead of behind you. If you have a window behind you, close the curtains, otherwise, you will be backlit.
2 - Lighting
Lighting is so important. Invest in a cheap ring light or position natural lighting so your face is fully and evenly lit from the front. Halogen lights are great and really help (At the time of writing there are some great cheap ones, on sale in LIDL). LED Ring Lights are also good. Make sure to check and tweak your lighting as it will change according to the time of day.
3 - Positioning of your computer screen
Adjust your camera so that it is not too low or high. Your camera should be at eye level. Usually placing your laptop on a stack of books works, however don''t get too close! Position yourself so the camera is seeing you from the chest or waist up, instead of just seeing your face. This is more natural for the viewer (after all, in an in-person meeting you’re usually seeing more of a person than just their face). This is especially beneficial if you tend to gesture a lot.
4 - Background
If you are using virtual background, and want to pretend you are in Tahiti as opposed to the west of Ireland, it is a good idea to use a green screen before you switch on the virtual screen otherwise your head will just morph into the background and distract your viewers. Alternatively, you can choose a plain background to keep your private life out of the viewers eye or you can choose to decorate your background accordingly.
5 – Your Focus
Talk directly into the camera as if you are speaking to just one person! It’s much more engaging than watching a static power point slide, (where guaranteed your audience will get distracted and bored). This tactic will mimic the in-person feeling of eye contact. You can also gauge reactions by looking at the screen, but alternating that with looking at the camera makes the audience feel like you’re really talking to them.
6 - Interact
One of the key differences between a traditional webinar and a truly virtual event is the level of interaction and engagement offered to attendees. Ask questions during your presentation. This will prompt viewers to type answers. Read comments and questions during the live segments of your stream so attendees feel more involved. You could also consider running competitions or surveys to keep people interacting. When you get more proficient you can start using slides
7 – Technology
Start off with the basics, as getting used to all the technology and platforms that could be used is somewhat intimidating. However. if possible, try to use a good quality camera and headset instead of your computer’s built-in ones. Zoom works just fine with the built-ins, but the quality is even sharper with higher quality hardware.
Regarding cameras, a lot of expert Keynote Speakers are recommending the Logitech C920 and the even more advanced, Logitech Brio. Likewise with audio, a lot of the pros are using the Yeti microphone, but there are a lot of cheaper versions out there.
6 – Platforms
Every platform offers certain advantages and disadvantages, but it depends on where your audience is and your budget. If you already have a particularly large following on a certain platform then that might be where you start. Whatever you do, don't get overwhelmed, get really proficient in it and then use that same platform.
Below are a list of some of the many platforms we have come across that seem to be the most popular.
A - Zoom
It seems to be the most popular for businesses at the moment as it’s great for meetings. It is also scalable, as you can simply start off using the free program and if that works you can scale up depending on your needs, however there is a flatness to it and there are restrictions and limitations (unless you’re willing to pay a lot).
Nevertheless, there are a lot of built-in engagement tools at your finger-tips such as screen share, annotate shared content. You have the capabilities to send out quick polls, solicit feedback in chat and split your attendees up into video breakout rooms. You can also measure if your audience is engaged during screen sharing by using the Zoom attendee attention tracking feature which is quite handy.
B - Skype
It’s one of the easiest ways to get a video-conference going without anybody having to install anything new. Skype for Business has long been a more robust tool, but it has officially been substituted and replaced by Microsoft Teams.
C - Facebook Live
According to SproutSocial- A social media management and optimization platform for brands and agencies of all sizes, Users 65 years and older are the fastest-growing group on Facebook and 74% of Facebook users are high-income earners. With that, It’s a nice safe place to start if your organisation is already active on Facebook, and in the light of the jump in live streaming popularity, they have also started to quickly roll out more features.
The advantage of using Facebook live is you can stream privately or publicly. There’s great opportunity for chat through ‘viewing parties’.
However, if you want more than one session to flow together you’ll probably need additional software. There can be restrictions on how you access and communicate with your viewers and to a certain extent you’ll find yourself at the mercy of Facebook. It’s their audience, not yours.
D - YouTube
Probably one of the best and least technical options out there and with lots of possibilities. If you are running a free event you can always stream to YouTube as well as your own website. You can switch between public and private videos and there are loads of free, built-in features including a ‘tip jar’ which is a nice addition, during these COVID-29 related times.
E - Periscope/Twitter
Periscope is Twitter’s live video tool. It’s good for simple, raw live streams but it’s quite limited in what it can do and how much control you have. It’s probably not going to be your best option, but if you have a good Twitter following it can be worth testing.
F - LinkedIn Live – This is still in beta mode and not available to everyone, but works in much the same way as Facebook Live. They will be rolling it out to more and more people over time, but currently you have to apply and wait.
G - StreamYard
This is a live streaming studio in your browser. You can interview guests, share your screen, etc as well as stream directly to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other platforms. There are other ones, such as Twitch and Wirecast, Streamyard and loads more seem to be popping up, with their own features and pricing structure.
There are many other platforms, but these are the ones we have come across, give them a test and see what works for you. A lot of them let you use a free trial version first which is great for playing around with.
7 - Extra tips
Should you be presenting live have some extra devices at your fingertips, like a spare laptop, just in case your computer decides to give up the ghost at the most inopportune time.
Likewise, should the internet go down, have back-up. Don't depend on only one provider. Have access to another network or the capabilities of hotspot. So, in that case, it could be wise to have two different carriers. It’s an insurance policy if you are going to be speaking professionally
Since this all new for a lot of people (and us too) experiment, play around with all these formats, get live demos.
For your own presentations, record yourself and watch the playback with a critical eye. Did you talk too quickly? Too many ums and ahs? Send the recording to a colleague/ friend who you know will give you candid feedback.
We hope you have picked up at least one piece of valuable information for presenting. If you need more advice or you are looking for one of our expert Keynote Speakers please call us
This is a great video interview with Marc Randolph by Laura Schreffler at Haute Living and a an abstract of some of the conversation below.
Netflix is the one thing getting people through this quarantine (that and banana bread). How does it feel to be one of the people responsible for starting something that’s this powerful in a time of need?
I have been reflecting on the positive contribution Netflix is making now. You’ve got to understand that in many ways my biggest or most well know achievement in life was developing this way of having people spend more time in front of a screen, which I’m not quite sure how I should feel about. Now of course that I get so many notes from people saying this is one of the things helping people cooped up inside—especially those being copped up with small children—and it’s a way to bring these families together and pass the time. I feel quite a bit of pride having helped develop something that’s helping people in this difficult time.
What do you want to accomplish?
‘I’ve been doing keynotes speaking for years, where I go and get in front of an auditorium and get three or four thousand people and get to spend an hour with them and of course you don’t change a thousand people’s lives very much in an hour, maybe a little bit if I’m lucky, and then of course I wrote the book so now I get to spend twelve or thirteen hours with somebody and I have the people that I mentor which is only a handful of people but I spend hundreds of hours with them and I am coming to realising how do I take the things that I have learnt, how do I scale that? How can I be more effective at helping other people to unlock their potential that I believe everybody has’.
Do you ever have any regrets [about stepping down as Netflix’s CEO]?
Zero regrets. Or one regret in a thousand non-regrets. In some ways would it be fun to still be sitting around the table at Netflix and solving these really interesting programs? Absolutely. I learned something about myself quite a long time ago: Which are two things. What do you like doing and what are you good at? The reality is for me, they’re the same thing. They’re early stage companies. I love when companies are new, when the problems are all new… As Netflix grew and became more successful, less and less of it was start-up-y… I realized the things that I loved was doing start-ups. For the last 15 years I’ve gone back to doing the thing that I love doing—and quite frankly—I’m pretty good at it. No regrets. And especially now when most of what I spend my time on is mentoring other early-stage entrepreneurs. I spend my time solving problems, but I get to go home at night. I get to pursue my other outside interests. I’m the most fortunate guy you’re ever going to meet.
Would you say that having a strong team around you is the secret to success?
There’s no question about it. One of the reasons that I wrote That Will Never Work is to tell this behind-the-scenes story of Netflix. That it was not something that springs out of one person’s mind in some moment of inspiration like Newton under the apple tree… These are ideas that are the contributions of dozens of people… all contributing something different. I wanted to show that it was a team who built Netflix… Ultimately, that’s all you really have is the people. The culture is so important, why how you treat people is so important which is why who you pick to have around you is so important.
What is the best piece of business advice that you can impart?
Start. That can be implied two different ways… Most people have these ideas… and we do the thing that is second nature, we keep them nestled in these safe, warm parts of our brains… But the world is a much harsher reality and too many people are scared to take these ideas when they feel like they’re not fully formed and put them out there. But you have to put them out there… The biggest problem people have is they don’t start and if you don’t start, of course you never get anywhere. People who are in business now have started and are trying things but almost universally they wait too long… What I realized is that almost universally that preparation time is wasted. I’ve never seen someone take their idea and put it out into the world too soon.
What would you say is the most important takeaway from “This Will Never Work”?
What I want people to say is what really goes on at a start-up, that this is not about getting rich, not about getting famous, not about being on Shark Tank. I wanted to create a real picture of what it feels like to take a crazy idea that no one thought would work—that my wife didn’t think would work—and that somehow through perseverance and creativity, you finally find a way to make it successful. It’s not easy; there are tiers, you have to fire people that have worked for you selflessly for years; there are times where you’re almost out of business; there’s people slamming the door in your face, but somehow, god that’s fun.
For more information on Marc Randolph please view his Bio here:
Due to the impact of COVID-19 live events have ground to a complete standstill. As a result there has been an upsurge in the number of virtual events taking place worldwide. Event organisers are congregating to virtual event platforms to address and deliver content to their audience.
Virtual events, (which can be live-stream, webinars or virtual summits) will never fully replace the real-life experience, however they are a perfect substitute for the lock-down lives we are currently living in.
While some organisations have chosen to completely cancel their live events and have re-established their event online, other event organisers have decided to completely postpone their event and reschedule it for later on in 2020 or for 2021. Whatever path you choose as an event organiser, it will be the best decision for your event and organisation.
There are currently many advantages to going online during the current lock-down, but after COVID-19, the conferences and events industry will be a very different place. Based on our many conversations with event organisers and keynote speakers, audiences will expect a virtual element of sorts to be added to live events in the future. The option to attend in person or to attend from home or office will be an added requirement.
However in the meantime, while we navigate this strange, challenging time we find ourselves in, it is important to keep front-of-face in the virtual world and keep your event and brand name visible in front of customers so as not to become redundant during this digital age.
As a solution, if you have not run a virtual event before, now is a great time to experiment. Start off small and run a virtual version before you take the financial risk of rolling out a complete replacement to your live event. This will help determine if your event is suited to the online platform. In order to do that there are many things you need to keep in mind. Below are some of them: -
1 - Cost
If you go virtual, the overall cost of putting on your event will be greatly reduced. Event organisers and planners no longer have to pay for staff, venue, setup or take-down. There will be no worries of accommodation, meals or transportation costs. Keynote Speaker fees are also reduced as well as their additional costs such as airfare and expenses.
The main cost will be for hosting the virtual meeting platform, whichever platform you decide to use and there are a lot of options out there, from easy and free to sophisticated and costing hundreds of thousands of euro.
2 - Audience
The size of your potential audience at online event can be much greater. There are opportunities to sell more tickets to individuals who previously would not have been able to attend in person. In addition, the type of person who attends your online event will also is different, so you will have the opportunity to open up your event to a more diverse audience.
3 - Networking
Networking is difficult online, for some organisations it can work well, for others, not so well. It works best if guests are willing to interact and engage in the comments and chat section. From virtually attending a host of events since the lock-down, the few attempts we have seen at networking in separate ‘rooms’ after the event have been challenging, however this may change in the coming months. We are all experimenting. If the modus operandi of your event focuses on networking and deal-making, live traditional conferences is still where the most conducive networking deals are made, but in the meantime, needs must.
4 - Space
Online can accommodate limitless numbers, so you don’t have to worry about a venue or its limited capacity.
5 - Keynote Speakers
Keynote Speakers are more available, they have had cancellations too, and most of them offer reduced fees for speaking online. Event organisers have easier access to new and diverse Keynote Speakers who otherwise were unable to attend your traditional event.
6 - Lead generation
As there is the opportunity for a bigger audience to attend your virtual event, this means there is a opportunity to capture more leads. Having access to new email addresses gives you a get chance to convert your lead to a customer.
7 - Accessibility
If you record your sessions, these recordings can continue to be watched and sold long after the event providing ever-green content. If you add in multi-language subtitles, it again will increase access to countries that may have not previously heard of your event. In addition, the keynote speeches can be watched anywhere and anytime.
8- Additional marketing opportunities
Videos of Keynote Speakers could be re-used at later dates, with the same material discussed on sessions and later broadcasts. In addition, materials such as speaker interviews, virtual Q&As can be re-broadcast and bonus material can be downloaded for more high-level customers.
9 - Climate change
Virtual events are great for companies looking to demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability, by not being allowed to travel or even stand beside someone, we are already reducing our carbon footprint and helping our environment.
If you need help in booking Keynote Speakers for your next event be it virtual or in person, Oration Speakers is happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact us.