The same as for a physical event, making sure your speakers are comfortable and well prepared is critical for a successful presentation.
In this article we'll provide some guidance on how you can prepare your speakers for virtual meetings.
Additionally, we've created a reusable slide deck for speaker coaching, that you can adapt to your needs. These slides include information that will help you prepare your speakers with:
- Zoom and Webex speaker instructions (set-up, mute/unmute, video on/off, screen share, lighting, testing).
- Q&A and Polling instructions for speakers and moderators.
- Support, best practices, before and after webinar checklist.
Our 4-step approach to speaker preparation
1. Send each speaker an email briefing
Sending your speakers some information and preparation materials will help reassure them from the very beginning.
At SpotMe, we send each speaker a short email briefing, that contains a few explanations on the tool to install, and some useful pointers so that they can best prepare.
This is the email template we typically send:
"Dear [INSERT NAME],
My name is [INSERT YOUR NAME]. I am the project manager for the [INSERT EVENT NAME]. As you know, this event will be virtual, and we want to make sure you are comfortable with how things will work.
How can you prepare?
As a speaker for the [INSERT MEETING NAME], we are providing you with some support to be well prepared. Please run through the following:
- Install Zoom (the conference tool we will use): Follow these simple steps to install Zoom
- Review the following articles:
- Best practice when speaking at a virtual meeting.
- Interactivity with SpotMe.
What is coming next?
We are going to schedule a 30 minutes one-to-one briefing session together. During this, we will test your configuration and make sure you are comfortable with everything.
Please confirm which of these time slots works best for you:
At a later stage, we will also schedule a rehearsal with all the other speakers, to make sure everybody is comfortable with transitions and interactivity.
In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions.
2. Run an individual speaker briefing session with each speaker
It is important that each speaker has a working and suitable environment to present from (sound, video, light, background).
To make sure these requirements are met, and to address any other questions, we schedule individual speaker briefing sessions with each speaker.
Each briefing session lasts 30 minutes, and during this time we cover the following:
Test the conference tool
- Ensure that speakers are able to login to the tool easily.
- Run through their settings with them – turning video and audio on/off and sharing slides.
- Make sure their internet connection is strong enough to stay connected through the whole event, share slides, and show their video. Ask the speaker to run a speed test on their computer by going to https://www.speedtest.net/ and check their results (minimum 3.0 Mbps upload/download speed recommended).
Test the sound quality
- Help your speaker find their best microphone setup – computer microphone (least recommended), external microphone, cell phone, landline.
- Test speaker & microphone settings – the conference tool should have settings that allow you to run through these tests easily.
Test the video quality
- Help your speaker find their best camera setup – computer camera or external camera if available.
- Test video settings – check if HD is feasible based on the setup and internet connection.
- Test video lighting – speaker should be visible and clear. Background should be neutral and not distracting for the audience.
Check the speaker's environment
- Ensure the speaker's lighting is good.
- Ensure that their background/surroundings are appropriate.
Run through the conference tool functionalities
- Mute, share camera, share presentation, etc.
Run through presentations
- Introduce the speaker in the same way they would be introduced during the event.
- Have the speaker unmute themselves, turn on their video, and start sharing their presentation.
- Run through a few slides for practice.
- Have the speaker transition to the next speaker, or back to the moderator.
- Have the speaker mute themselves, turn off their video (as needed), and unshare their presentation.
- Remind your speaker that polling questions should be set-up in advance.
- Agree on a cue word/phrase that will be used to determine when to launch potential polling questions, this could for for example "Please vote now".
- Launch a test poll to show the flow of the question.
- Remind the speaker that there will be an approx. 30-seconds delay between their presentation and the live stream.
Last step: Address any other last questions the speaker might have.
3. Run a rehearsal session with all speakers
Having everyone understand what the agenda is and how things will transition between speakers is critical for a seamless virtual experience.
This is why the last step of the preparation process is to bring everyone together for a rehearsal session, where we can tie up any loose ends.
Schedule it at a time that works for all speakers and production crews, 1-2 days before the actual meeting. The duration of the rehearsal session can vary from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the number of speakers and the complexity of the meeting.
Whenever possible, always do an entire meeting practice run, with each transition worked out. An example of an agenda practice run could be:
- Introduce each speaker/moderator.
- Introduce the production team.
- Present an overview of the meeting agenda.
- Run through the entire meeting – not running through all entire presentations, but launching each of them to make sure speakers are comfortable with screen sharing.
- Address any last questions and comments.
4. Send the marching orders
Now that everybody is set, make sure your speakers know when and where they need to show up.
We send a simple email reminder, where we group the critical information they need to know at this stage.
It typically looks like this:
"Dear [INSERT NAME],
Thank you for your time preparing for our [INSERT MEETING NAME]. I wanted to summarize here all the details you need to know.
On the meeting date:
On the [MEETING DATE], at [MEETING START TIME - 1 HOUR], click on the following link to launch and connect to our conference tool: [ZOOM URL].
We will then take a few minutes to make sure everybody’s configuration is still working as it should. Then we will simply wait until the meeting starts, at [MEETING START TIME].
In the meantime:
A few things you can do:
- Feel free to launch the conference tool and get further used to it
- Review our interactivity and speaker best practice guides
- Make sure you have your slides ready and handy on your laptop
We look forward to running this virtual meeting together. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions.