Top 5 Tips for Speaker Management in Virtual Space

In the last six months, the Client Success Team at JUNO has supported hundreds of online conference sessions for emergency room physicians, e-sports experts and event pros.

They’ve interacted with hundreds of speakers and coached them through audio optimization, slide-sharing and more.

This first-hand experience with various speakers offers insight for future planning. Here are the top tips from Marjorie, one of our senior success managers.

1. Have a chat moderator.

“With live speakers, I've noticed they really like to have a secondary moderator in the room, someone who is watching those questions that come in or reminding people in the chat to submit questions.” Having that moderator helps the speaker stay focused on their content and not be distracted by operational things.

Having other people support you, that's where I've seen the most comfort. Moderators can coordinate with the speakers, ‘Hey, do you want me to come on and ask you questions afterwards? Do you want me to just promote them to you right away?’

“It’s great so they don't feel they're all alone standing on stage, especially because a lot of speakers aren't used to presenting to an empty room, and that's basically how virtual can feel sometimes.”

2. Encourage virtual interaction.

“People love the emojis. The attendees feel like they can give instant gratification, and the speakers feel like they're in it together. They really love it. They love the interaction. We have the Q&A, the chat, that kind of stuff. But for those speakers who are used to giving smaller talks to 20 people in breakout rooms, they have a harder time feeling like they have that interaction. So it's nice when they can see people giving them their thumbs up.”

3. Make speaker training accessible, flexible and mandatory.

That's different for every client, how much and how speakers are trained. I've had a lot of medical conferences, and those doctors have a lot of other stuff going on in their life and might not be able to make it to the speaker training. Let them read short training materials ahead of time or access recorded webinars.

“Sometimes those 30 minutes of green room time (before they present a session) is the only time the speaker is on JUNO because of their schedule.”

Require speakers to touch base with you prior to the conference inside a session room on the platform. “For those who required speakers to join a session or at least talk to the meeting planner beforehand, that was something that was helpful for more speakers to feel more confident”.

“We've been putting up test rooms where speakers can go in on their own time before the conference and just practice, poke buttons, that kind of stuff.” Test rooms give speakers who are nervous the time to be nervous. They can come into their room and just take a peek, turn on their camera, make sure audio and visuals work, and alleviate a lot of their virtual jitters.

“Some of our clients have scheduled 15 minutes to just meet someone in a room. Also, check your background. Meeting planners are nervous about not having virtual backgrounds and making sure their speakers all have a professional-looking background.”

So put 10 or 15 minutes on a speaker's calendar to do just that. “That's a great time to troubleshoot. We can schedule two hours where organizers can invite testers onto the platform and we'll get one or two of our tech team members on call to help well ahead of the actual event.”

4. Talk about computer limitations.

Once speakers are in a training or a test run, help them step through what will actually happen. "Having people understand the limitations of their own computer setup is important. One small monitor is tough to give a presentation on, especially if it's a 13-inch MacBook.”

“The biggest thing that we hear in green rooms is ‘Wait, but if I do that, I can't see my notes.’ That’s because the easiest fix for how to present on a one-monitor setup is to put your presentation into an individual window, but it doesn't show your notes because it doesn't have the full presentation view. The way PowerPoint has always been set up to run is from your computer to the projector.” So, if there is no projector, computers only have two options; it shows everybody your notes, or it shows nobody your notes. Stepping through these realities helps people be prepared, such as printing out speaking notes ahead of time.

5. Step through the experience.

Run-throughs are great in virtual, just like they are for in-person events. Our team can come in and walk through “stage” instructions of when each person turns on their camera and speaks.

You do the same at a dry tech run at a big conference. It’s a setup for i-mag, right? Basically, we are now all i-mag managers. JUNO staff is now the tech table that used to sit in the dark back corner.

“Think about what tech setup you did in live context and remember to do that in the virtual world. Because even though we're all in our own homes, it's still helpful. It’s helpful to know when John says X, then the spot turns on and that's what happens. Talking through that is really the only way. And sometimes that's when questions and important issues come up.”