9 Tips for Picking and Prepping Virtual Event Speakers

Choosing the right virtual presenter can guarantee your next event is a hit. Ensuring the virtual speaker is adequately prepared can build lasting relationships with many thought leaders in your industry.

Unlike preparing speakers for a face-to-face meeting that is mostly already set up by the audio and visual staff of the venue, hosting a virtual event requires more commitment from the presenter since the visual and audio quality depends on the individual’s equipment setup.

Therefore, providing your virtual event presenters with the support they need, from technical feedback to audience engagement methods before the big day, will produce better results. To get the best out of your virtual event and virtual speakers, follow these simple steps:

1. Start with your event objectives
Finding the right speakers starts with knowing and communicating your goals and vision for the presentations.

Reflect on who your intended audience is and what value you want them to get out of your event. Are these current clients who appreciate expert insights, or business leaders hoping for networking opportunities?

Also, consider your goals for your organization. Are you hoping to build brand awareness or strategically guide prospects further into your sales funnel? Either way, these factors will determine your approach to choosing virtual speakers.

2. Tap your network for speaker ideas
There’s no better way to know what your audience wants to hear than simply asking. Poll your guest list on who they would love to hear speak at your upcoming event.

You could also reach out to others in your professional community. There’s a good chance someone in your network had a great experience with a thought leader who may not be on your radar.

Even if the suggestions aren’t the right fit for your event, this can still give you an idea of the type of content and angle your audience is most excited about. Additionally, it’s a great way to raise early awareness and curiosity about your upcoming event.

3. Look for a speaker who can deliver the highest value to your audience
By knowing your event goals and what potential guests might want to hear, you can narrow down your list of potential speakers to those who will provide the best insights and experience for your audience.

4. Complete a speaker agreement
Create a written agreement outlining how you intend to use digital content from the event and confirm you have your speakers’ permission to use their voice, image and event content. This should include clauses that address all rights, restrictions and responsibilities your organization and your guest speaker should be mindful of.

5. Confirm content and format details
Establishing the presentation content and format can happen before you select your speaker lineup, or after in a collaborative fashion. Either way, it’s important to clarify your intention for the event session.

For instance, is it a 45-minute talk followed by a 15-minutes live Q&A session, or is it an hour-long panel discussion? Are you expecting virtual speakers to come with slide decks? What is your event’s theme and are there any specific talking points you wish for your audience to hear?

After answering these types of questions, your virtual speakers can prepare their presentations accordingly. Clarifying whether you’re hosting a purely virtual or a hybrid event is also important.

6. Host a kickoff call
After confirming the details, invite all speakers, hosts and other participants to join a kickoff call. This is an expectation-setting conversation during which you can make the necessary introductions and brief everyone on the event content, format and logistics.

It’s also a chance to ensure your speakers are aware of all key event-related dates and respond to any preliminary questions they may have. During this conversation, provide a speaker prep checklist to help your presenters keep track of everything.

7. Nail the backdrop
Even on a small screen, a virtual presenter’s messy or chaotic background can distract audience members and contribute to a negative brand image for the organization they represent and the event as a whole.

To avoid this, advise speakers that they should choose a clear, clutter-free workspace to present from. Ask them to set up additional lighting behind their webcams to ensure their faces are evenly lit.

Consider providing an image your speakers can upload and use as a backdrop. Something simple in a solid color with a logo in one corner can provide a crisp and professional appearance that visually unites presenters no matter where they’re located.

8. Arrange a practice run
Several days before the main event, have all participating hosts, moderators and presenters gather virtually for a rehearsal. This will provide an opportunity for everyone to familiarize themselves with the technical logistics, from screen-sharing and self-muting to utilizing live chat features, getting sound levels just right and more.

It’s a good idea to run through the event itinerary to ensure all participants know how the transitions from one speaker to the next will flow.

Also, discuss backup plans and troubleshooting tips so that, should technical issues arise, your virtual event speakers are prepared to adapt and make attendees feel like they’re not waiting or missing a beat.

9. Touch base the morning of the event
To ensure your virtual event is a success, connect with your speakers on the day of the event a few hours before they go live. Do a tech check and make sure they have everything they need.

The next time you’ll meet will be a few minutes before the event begins, so this extra check-in provides some time for important questions and last-minute troubleshooting.

Coordinating with virtual presenters can add a lot to an already demanding event planning to-do list. To make your next event impactful and stress-free, consider partnering with JTB USA Meetings & Events.