Six Steps to Success at a Virtual Conference.
1. By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail…
Good planning is essential for a virtual presentation. Start off by writing down a few ideas. If you can, avoid writing a speech – this can sometimes come across too formal and unnatural. By noting down a few bullet points, you have the comfort of knowing your notes are there to refer to, whilst keeping the presentation conversational and engaging.
2. Test equipment
With a virtual presentation you have the added pressure of ensuring all your technology is up and running. Living in the mountains of North Wales I have had my fair share of problems involving the internet – technical difficulties are the last thing you need before starting a presentation! You will feel much more relaxed going into a presentation if you have tested your microphone, camera and internet beforehand.
3. Keep the talk short and concise
Keeping an audience engaged is difficult at the best of times, never mind in an online environment. Now that there is the option to sign into a virtual conference and leave it playing in the background, there is even more pressure to capture the interest of the audience. By keeping the talk short and straight to the point you give yourself a better chance of being heard and understood.
4. Use visual aids
Visuals are important for any conference but even more so when the conference is online. A virtual conference takes away the opportunity for you to use gestures and body language to engage with an audience. Using visual aids in your presentation slides is a good way to ensure your message sinks in and that your presentation still stands out and is particularly memorable.
5. Keep tone and energy high throughout
When I was first asked to speak at a conference, I was relieved to hear it was going to be online. The thought of not having to stand in front of an audience provided some comfort. In reality, speaking at a virtual conference comes with its own difficulties. The problem with a virtual conference is that you have no idea how the audience are responding to what you are saying – you’re not able to see them nodding or smiling when they agree, nor are you able to see them shaking their heads when they disagree! I find that in this situation it is best to remain upbeat, friendly and approachable. It is important to keep your tone and energy positive throughout and making the extra effort to keep the audience engaged.
6. Rounding off
In a virtual conference, you are missing out on the opportunity to network. Make the extra effort to reach out to people on LinkedIn after the conference and expand your network that way!
By Holly Jones