Speakers need to adjust to a ‘hybrid’ future

covid meetings Apr 26, 2020

If you are a trainer, facilitator, speaker or event organizer you would have loved an event I had the good fortune to MC last week.

The bottom line, according to Kristin Arnold, one of the guest speakers, was that the speaking and presentations business will never go back to ‘normal’.

Kristin was speaking to a virtual gathering of members of CAPS, the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers.

According to Kristin, the industry is currently at a way station, waiting to transform into something no one can identify right now. Whatever happens, she says, speakers, presenters and coaches will no longer be speaking to large crowds in conference and seminar rooms.

Her prediction is supported by some leading international companies. Microsoft have suspended all their events till July 2021. Facebook has cancelled all meetings involving more than 50 attendees till June 2021.

Kristin Arnold is an industry leader when it comes to facilitation and leadership. Her clients include NASA, Marathon Oil, Mercedes Benz, Nature Conservancy, and the US Armed Forces. She’s an international expert in meeting facilitation, interactive presentations and leadership coaching.

Like Kristin, the whole event industry is wondering what the future will be, post-Covid-19.

Julius Solaris, the editor of Event Manager Blog.com, says event planners will be paying special attention to a range of new concerns:

  • Insurance 
  • Social Distancing
  • Thermal Scanning
  • Sanitation and Disinfection
  • Triage and Handling of Those Who Show Symptoms
  • Vulnerable population management

Add to that list problems with travel, and the natural reluctance - at least in the short term - for people to gather in crowded rooms, and you have an industry that has to change in order to survive.

One bright consequence of Covid-19 has been the growth in usage of teleconferencing apps like Zoom.

A lot more people are suddenly experimenting with video conferencing - staying in touch with colleagues, talking with family members, having virtual dinner parties with friends.

Kristin Arnold’s vision for the future is a combination of small ‘live’ gatherings with, simultaneously, other participants joining by video conference. ‘Hybrid’ is how Kristin describes the new format.

Kristin says speakers will be presenting to a small group live and, at the same time, to a much larger group virtually. The challenge for speakers will be to craft speeches or presentations that hold both these audiences.

  • Speakers will have to engage their hybrid audience with some kind of activity at least every six minutes
  • They will have to be flexible in how they ensure everyone is engaged
  • They will have to create better content

Just as the format will change, so must a speaker’s content. Kristin cautions speakers not to automate, using the same old material, but to innovate.

Planning will be paramount as speakers will increasingly have to juggle content and technology. “We are all mini producers of mini content,” she says. Your calling card now is virtual and live. So camera angles, lighting, background matter.

We at Presentations Masterclass have produced a free series of 30 second videos on using webcams. That’s just one of the many free resources we are making available to people who sign up for our newsletter and updates.

In addition to the 30 second quick tips, you can also get - free - a complete lesson in how to look and sound good on video. Just click this link and tell us where to send it.

This is both a very scary and an exciting time for anyone who speaks, facilitates and makes presentations. The world is changing. But one thing remains constant… the hunger of audiences for great content.