Speaker Management in a Virtual World
Covid 19 caught our industry off guard, no one could deny it. We as organisers, managers, consumers and sponsors of events had never really put too much value into Virtual Events as the talk was all about real life experience and the power of being in the room.
The past year has obviously seen a huge shift and with that shift some real learnings. None more so than Virtual actually has real power in both audience reach and content longevity. However with the onboarding of any new thing, as you learn 1 lesson you tend to bump into 1 or 2 more that you still need to learn.
Something the South African market is definitely learning is that not everyone can present virtually, sometimes the speaker who can own a crowd of thousands on stage, portraying great charisma and presence along with great visual content – really needs that crowd! Speaking to a camera, on your own, in a small studio / your home is a real skill.
It’s a skill that is harnessed and improved only with practice, understanding, some serious learning about how virtual works, and mostly with a mind shift around audience; but it’s also something that a speaker shouldn’t be carrying alone. This is one space where a good Event Company can really earn their fee – speakers need great briefs, real expectations of what their talk is in the programme to achieve and importantly a great understanding of their audience.
Fully virtual events need to be thought of as broadcasts, scripted, measured and managed to the second, community manager and show caller sitting side by side, facilitating audience experience and engagement while giving that speaker every chance possible to do what they do best.
As the opportunities for Hybrid events continue to present themselves, even though the audiences are small we are able to at least give the speakers some audience they can engage with – however this again produces a new challenge – you’re now building an event for 2 audiences, one that experiences the event live and one who’s watching through a screen. Once again this brings both opportunity and challenge.
In our opinion, the opportunity to bring people back into the engagement space, offering a small amount of normality in both audience and entertainer experience is worth the budget. It adds a sense of atmosphere and authenticity to an event. Even for those viewing virtually.
The challenge must obviously also be weighed in the equation. There’s a requirement for greater budget, or at least a shift in budget allocation. We also need to take Covid Compliance into account, but we strongly feel the pros outweigh the cons!
A year on we’re all adjusted to the new virtual world now, audiences know what they want, they know when and how they want to consume it and while organisers got some leeway upfront – expectations are rising. It’s time we as Event Organisers do what we do best and deliver great events, no matter the platform.