Virtual Guest Speaker Checklist
Once you’ve found your perfect guest speaker, the next key step is ensuring everything runs smoothly, both in the lead-up to the event and at the event itself.
Virtual events run a bit differently than in person and provide a bit more preparation in order to ensure an engaging experience for all participants.
Logging into a virtual event as a guest speaker with no prior contact can be daunting. The first thing you should do once you’ve booked a guest speaker is to open up the communication channel and introduce yourself and any other relevant stakeholders such as an MC or the person introducing the speaker! This will help the speaker feel more comfortable and confident during their presentation.
Set up a briefing or rehearsal prior to the event if necessary, otherwise, use the Pickstar instant messaging to introduce yourself!
A clear line of communication is vital to make this happen.
Confirm the deliverables
The second thing you should be doing once booked, which is just as important as the first, is to confirm the deliverables for the event with the speaker. You’ve probably already communicated some of the details, but now is the time to reinforce the theme or topic, the duration for the guest speaker, and anything else they may be required to do at the event, like participate in Q&A, rapid-fire questions, or anything else you can think of!
Ensure a great virtual conferencing setup
You want a great virtual conference set up to make your event run as smoothly as possible. This will also help your guest speaker to succeed as they will feel confident and comfortable while delivering their virtual presentation.
There are a couple of things to help with this. Firstly, ensure key participants and the guest speakers' internet connection is strong and stable. Secondly, ensure that you and your guest speaker are confident and comfortable with the software being used. Each virtual conferencing software is different and may take a bit of practise to ensure it runs smoothly.
We recommend a quick rehearsal with your speaker or getting them to log in prior to their presentation.
Ask for promotional material
Your great guest speaker can help elevate your event on the day, but it can also help promote the event in the lead-up. Ideally, you will have already discussed this during the negotiation
Depending on the event these can be used to either inform the audience and get them excited, or promote the event! These materials can include:
- Speaker bio
- Teaser videos
Nail the logistics
The biggest hiccup for virtual events… timezones! Virtual events have opened us up to national and international speakers without the costs of travel. However, this creates a new obstacle in that time zones vary depending on where the speaker is located.
Make sure that you find out where they are located and communicate the timing with them in their local time to ensure they are there and ready at the desired time.
Educate the virtual audience prior to the event
There are a couple of things we take for granted with in-person events, a key one being audience participation, reactions, and energy! This can be key to ensuring a successful event, both for the audience AND the speaker.
Typically, speakers can read and react to audience energy and reactions and adjust accordingly. This becomes a bit more difficult virtually.
We highly recommend having your audience cameras ON but audio off. Then the speaker can see the faces and gauge reactions.
Other recommendations include having an MC to facilitate the presentation, having a Q&A component, or having a select few with cameras on for the speaker to react with.
Write a great introduction
This part can often get overlooked. It’s easy to say, here’s the speaker and let them launch straight into their talk.
But this is an opportunity to set the stage for the speaker you’ve hired. Don’t tell their entire life story or give away the key points of their speech, but give them the credit they deserve with a short, succinct introduction that tells the audience why the speaker is there, why they’re qualified to speak on the topic you’ve chosen, and anything else you think is vitally important.
We’ve got some great tips for writing an introduction here.
It’s great to say you were great, but it’s even better for a speaker if you can say “you were great because you were able to touch on the points required, engage the audience through a Q&A, provide further reading, and nailed a few jokes to keep the audience involved.” The speaker then understands what, specifically, you were happy with so they can ensure that’s part of future speaking engagements.
Equally, if you’re providing some negative feedback, keep it constructive. You were terrible doesn’t help anyone and can often cause friction. “We were disappointed because you arrived late, went over on your allocated time, and then had a few too many drinks” gives the speaker a far clearer understanding of what you were disappointed by.