Being a speaker on virtual stages is not easy!

Being a speaker on virtual stages and webinars without being able to “feel” the audience is not easy! We are all learning and adapting. Speakers and the public are finding their role in this new digital model of online meetings, presentations and events.

Maria Cabral de Sousa
May 18 2020 • 3 min reading
Being a speaker on virtual stages is not easy!

I am sharing my view on the role of someone who has attended numerous webinars, participated in several online meeting and in national and international digital events, that today, more than before, I am able to attend on time without having so much to balance.

I have been part of audiences "full of absent people" and have watched speakers of different ages and nationalities who, in a webinar, conference, or a training session, share know-how that interests me and lead me to register.

It is with the critical look of those watching from the audience that I feel the need to share some constructive tips!

The effort is commendable, the ability to fight technological barriers in older generations is admirable. Thousands of people have become screen artists sharing know-how on the challenging stages of webinars and online events.

Not everyone was born to “be a star and step on the stage”, we already knew that, but I now realize that even those who where already comfortable on the stage, are different behind the screen. They probably miss the publics buzz, the clapping, the music playing when they enter, the chat before starting. They are now embarrassed, too formal and with a strange infinite look as if anyone is listening to them.

Here are some tips for the speakers, from whom watches them carefully:

  • Be on time: In a country used to delays, the Portuguese people have become masters of punctuality. So be ready to start 10 minutes before the announced time
  • Move away from the screen: if you are sitting down and talking to a camera, lean back in your chair so you don't get too “glued” to the camera
  • Increase the letter of your notes to be able to read them without having to stick to the screen and without making strange struggling faces that everyone can see
  • Embrace failure: manage net failures, the passage between speakers and silences ... without just talking about the failures repeatedly
  • Do not overdo the formalisms and recognitions: When you have several speakers, present them, but do not spend all the time thanking the intervention of one and the other with unnecessary formalism at a where barriers are being broken and we all feel nearest
  • Wait for your turn - when there are several speakers on a panel it is important that the conversation flows normally, but it is equally important to wait for your turn to speak because the overlapping conversations become digital noise and it is impossible to understand
  • Even when projecting a presentation keep “your face in a small window”, do not leave the scene if you want your audience attention
  • Allow people to share their cameras and faces speaking to multiple windows with faces is easier than speaking to a screen
  • Ask questions, but don´t rush on wanting the answers, there is a digital delay and your audience must have the time to make several decisions before participating: writing in the chat or speaking? unmute the sound? share only sound or screen?
  • Be natural.

Surprisingly, I feel that the older generation is "at their best". They are the ones who, although less agile in digital, are more at ease in this model where nobody expects them to be technological masters and, perhaps because of that, they face everything more naturally, with nothing to prove and have a more fluid and effective message.

The art of stepping on a digital stage is not for everyone but is accessible to everyone and now, more than ever, in this process of reinventing ourselves, we have the right and, who knows, the obligation, to do so.

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