Event management 101: Remote presentations

In the past few months, I have visited (or co-organized) numerous events and all of them had one thing in common. An awesome speaker located somewhere very far, way beyond the organizer’s budget, also known as an online speaker.

There is one ultimate rule you need to know about organizing events and that is: What can go wrong, will go wrong! Never, ever, ever, ever, ever… leave things at your luck, cause when your event is live, there is very little you can do if you run out of it.

When it comes to having online presentations, I see it as is a proof that the organizer forgot the ultimate rule… Which is? WHAT CAN GO WRONG, WILL GO WRONG!

On such presentations, there are usually three scenarios:

  1. You cannot even connect with the speaker, your audience is annoyed and after 15 minutes you give up and don’t deliver this part of the agenda.
  2. You have you lovely presenter speaking on the big canvas, telling everyone how disappointed he/she is for not being there and how he/she hopes to have the chance to meet everyone in person in not distant future, starts the presentation and somewhere in the middle this… this… his… is… ssssssss…  happens! You internet connection screws you up! Not cool!
  3. You have your online presentation, your speaker is done and you turn to the audience and discover that people are sleeping! The whole room looks like someone has released a biogas, everyone is gone and it’s just you and your friend from the other side of the world.

Yes, it is the apocalypse of events!

In most cases, the remote presentations are a result of the organizers desire of having someone at their event, by not paying them at least the travel money. Trust me, neither your audience wants an unresponsive speaker, nor your speaker wants to be talking to a computer. And they will both know you are cheap!

Now, if it is totally inevitable, if your life depends on it and you must have a remote presentation, at least do it the ‘semi-right’ way. This should be a formula which will surely not fail you:

  1. Ask your speaker to make a video of his/her presentation. They do know what they’ll be talking about, they do not have any contact with the audience to modify it according to their reactions, so it is not likely that it will change. Ask them to make a video recording either of their screen while speaking in behind or use a camera to record a regular presentation, with them moving, pointing, doing stuff and so on.
  2. Make sure the presentation is not longer than 10 minutes and make sure it is really good. Your audience cannot relate to a screen, so make it short, fun, explosive and energetic!
  3. If you do insist on having a real time conversation with the speaker, leave it for the Q&A. But only for that! Of course you will first have to make sure you’re internet is stable and good and that you can provide a proper means by which the speaker and the audience can hear each other. Even in case the connection fails you down, at least you have already made your point with the video presentation.

Hope this helps and if you are not happy with the advice, I’m sure your audience will be 😉


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