October 13, 2021 | By Warwick Merry
Although Australia’s two largest states are opening up, there are still plenty of virtual or hybrid events to be delivered as things return to normal. One of the key differences between online and face-to-face events is the atmosphere and energy in the room. It is one of the biggest challenges that presenters face. The only energy in the room is the energy that they bring with them.
So how can we build the atmosphere when we are not physically there?
Here are a few different ways:
Music is a great way to fill “dead air” and to build up an audience when introducing a speaker. While there can be a few hiccups with getting the audio right, your AV team will no doubt have the answer for you and be able to help. Just make sure it is not too overpowering. Most importantly, make sure that you have the license to play the music. If in doubt, head to One Music Australia’s website and find out what you need. Most professional speakers and hosts (like myself) will have a license for music.
A key message I give to clients is that when you are presenting (either digitally or face to face) “be yourself, amplified!” What this means is that each of your gestures is a little bit bigger. Your variation in volume is a little greater. Your actions are a bit more intense.
Your audiences are still getting you. You are being authentic, but it is amplified – there is no confusion about what excites you, what annoys you, what you think is funny and what makes you sad. While this takes a little more energy, the results will speak for themselves.
To keep the engagement and the energy levels up, it helps if your speakers speak a little faster. If they are slow, rambling, without intent, the audience will be lost. They may stay online but they will not be with you. Speaking a little faster keeps people on their toes. They don’t want to miss anything so they stay focussed on what you are saying.
This doesn’t mean you have to be a stand-up comedian but there is a reason why Breakfast Radio hosts typically have a comedy background. It is not their scripted jokes but the way that they can take a situation and inject a little bit of humour into it. So look for ways that the delegates can have more fun and a few laughs. It makes a massive difference.
Make sure your sessions are not all about work. People need to let loose a little. Have some entertainers, trivia, magicians, comedians, celebrities or some left-of-field presenters on your run sheet. Your delegates need time to relax and have fun as they are learning. Make sure you build it in.
The more of these elements you can inject into your online event, the better the atmosphere you can build. The better the atmosphere, the more likely you will get increased registrations next time.
Warwick Merry is a certified speaking professional, dual certified virtual presenter and past national president of Professional Speakers Australia. He hosts and produces online events globally.