Doing virtual speeches

BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

Live conferences are back, and I now do at least two live events weekly while the rest are still virtual. Live events come in two forms. In-person strictly for people inside the room and the other is “hybrid,” addressing both the people in a room while a bigger number follow me through live streaming video. The world turned weird in 2020. I can only serve my clients, friends and family through virtual platforms. So we sprang into action. I converted a room in my house into a studio so my son, Bryan, who is into photography and music, helped install professional studio lights and sound systems. My techy daughter-boss, Rachel, summoned her team and quickly provided tools and technology to ensure we could give excellent presentations. I’ve given more than 500 online speeches since the pandemic began and am still doing a lot. I have learned and gained experiences from it, so I would like to pass on these experiences and perhaps help you with your virtual speech-making adventures.

1.Technology matters, but there is more to it.

One HR directress asked: “Francis, it seems that you never do any virtual talk sitting down. Is there a reason?”

My response is, “I want to always be on my toes.” (pun intended). I want to deliver work of excellence; I respect my audience and present my content with seriousness. Too casual a setting robs off the seriousness of the presentation content. I do not do my presentations in shorts, and I would never wear t-shirts. I am not advocating wearing a tuxedo or formal suit with a tie, but the rule remains the same whether in virtual presentation or in-person engagement. The speaker should always wear attire one notch higher than the audience.

2. Do not allow a lull to happen.

Attention span in virtual settings is a challenge and I have seen speakers trying too hard to engage. They have the participants push buttons, post stuff, or do games. I discovered that when the content is substantial and the delivery is effective, you do not have to worry about attention span and engagement. The audience is engaged, and they will pay attention. I do a three-day, three-hour Level Up Leadership Master Class, and participants expressed their wish to have more time as there are many things they like to learn.

3. Prepare early and be ready for unexpected interruptions.

At a live event, excellent professional tech people operate the tech booths and control, the lights, and sounds. For virtual keynote and speeches, the responsibility rests on me. I have two different high-speed internet providers. I inform clients ahead of time that specific virtual platforms have limitations and are not easy to use, so in case a problem happens, we would quickly shift to another internet connection or virtual platform. There is usually a tech run before the actual event, but I make sure I will be on board at least half an hour before the virtual event starts.

4. Reframe my thinking that virtual engagements are not setbacks but opportunities.

I now use the platform to my advantage. Let me spell these out for you:

I can now use facial expressions and add a little bit of humor to liven up the presentation.

I can encourage people to share their thoughts and feelings through the chatbox even as I do my presentation. (I cannot do this during live events.)

I can now reach out to many more people worldwide, which I could not do in live events.

I can display slides more compellingly because the participants view them up close on a screen instead of in a big room. In the process, I have been challenged to squeeze every creative advantage out of the online performance.

We should not overlook video uploading or forget to push the record button, wearing a good head-worn microphone so the audience would not hear the next-door neighbor’s construction noises.

Other things to consider are:

Did I get the time zone right? Better to double-check.

Would there be anyone in the audience that could not understand Filipino and would rather that I speak in all pure English?

Is the room temperature comfortable?

Do I have a small area or a side table where I can have a pen and a pad ready for me to take down notes or indicate special points to be expressed and presented? Is a place stable enough to place my cup of coffee or a glass of drinking water?

Have I turned off or muted every noise-making device in the place?

I hope these ideas help because virtual events will be with us for a long time to come.



(The next Level Up Leadership 2.0 Master Class Online run will happen this Sept. 27-29. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)


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