Saturday, March 30, 2013

10 questions for event organisers to ask virtual presenters

There are many great speakers around who you could select for your next event. For those who are appearing in person, it’s fairly easy to get a recommendation from someone who has seen them before. However, it’s much more difficult to make the judgement when selecting a virtual presenter, who will be appearing only on a screen. Great speakers don't necessarily make great virtual presenters.

Here’s a check-list of questions that will help you to choose a virtual presenter that will delight your audience.

1) How much virtual presenting have you done?  Everyone has to start somewhere, but if you have an large, important event to organise, it’s unwise to risk a first-time or inexperienced virtual presenter. Allow them to gather experience at smaller events.

2) What software have you used? Every technology requires some knowledge and experience to make best use of it. Whether you are using Skype, GoToMeeting or any other system, ensure that presenters know how to use it.

3) What technology do you have? A reliable connection is a must. So is high-quality sound. Good virtual presenters will have a hard-wired, high-speed internet connection and a good external microphone.

4) Can we see testimonials? The view of other organisers is always a strong indication of how good a virtual presenter really is.

5) What training have you done? There are some skills required for virtual presentations, and any presenter who has had no training at all is going to be a risk.

6) Can we have a chat on Skype? You can use a Skype conversation to make a live assessment of someone’s skills. Ask them a question that requires a detailed answer, sit back, watch and listen. How good would they look and sound in front of your audience?

7) Can we see your YouTube channel? You can make a good assessment of someone’s on-screen skills by looking at how they communicate on video. They don’t upload videos? Look for someone else.

8) What do you think are the key skills of a virtual presenter? They should be able to tell you the important skills required - confidence, looking into the camera at all times, limited use of notes and the ability to “project” into the room.

9) Are you prepared to engage with the audience before and after your presentation? How would you do that? You need a “yes” to the first part, and a sensible response to the second.

10) Are you prepared to appear at short notice? Sometimes, the best plans need to change. If you need to bring in a speaker at short notice, is this someone you could rely on?

How do you assess the responses? There is no list of “right answers”, but any shuffling of the feet and embarrassed mumblings will reveal a great deal. In my opinion, demonstrable results and testimonials rank high on the selection criteria, but it depends exactly what your event is looking for, and is prepared to pay for.

I've delivered many virtual presentations, and I'm still discovering ways to offer an even better service. Don't risk the success of your event by booking a virtual presenter who can't deliver the goods.

Photo Credit - John Cassidy (Headshots)

1 comment:

Heather said...

Good summary. Virtually presenting, with or without the use of video is a different skill to being physically present up in front of a room of people.

I'd also add another quality to the list 'flexibility and unflappability'. Technology does go wrong and can your virtual presenter cope when things go wrong?