Exactly a year ago, the Ann Plans July blog highlighted the magic ingredient in a
fundraising event: stories told from the heart. The opening sentence read, “Décor, food,
entertainment and reception activities all play a role in making an event stand out, but
the stories of lives changed and made better are the most important ingredients in a
successful fundraising event.”
I admit it is eerie to read those words in light of the reality of today’s event work
being virtual. The pandemic has brought about shifts in how we structure event programs
and prepare speakers. Whether working with a seasoned speaker or someone who is sharing
their story publicly for the first time, here are best practices for preparing them and
your organization for success:
Less is more. Maintaining a captive audience is extra
challenging in a virtual environment. Whether your speaker will be live or
pre-recorded, coach them on the importance of keeping messaging short and
focused. Have a goal of keeping each segment of your program to no more than one
to three minutes. Think in terms of a fast-paced TV broadcast.
Coach your speakers on relating to the camera. Whether a
speaker is in studio or recorded speaking to a computer from home, provide tips
on where to look and how to feel natural. Some people feel more comfortable and
animated when imagining they are engaging with a full ballroom. Others relax
when they think about talking to a good friend.
Focus on storytelling. The stories of how your organization is
making a difference are what will inspire people to give. Have each of your
speakers, including your emcee and CEO, share an impactful story. Incorporate
photos and short video clips to add visual interest to the storytelling.
Schedule a full rehearsal. This is a must when doing a live
virtual program. The rehearsal provides speakers another opportunity to practice
and get comfortable with the overall program flow, ensures the audiovisual team
understands all the cues, and provides the event team with a final chance to
Make the teleprompter your friend. When filming a live or
pre-recorded program, a teleprompter allows your speakers to feel more at ease,
helps ensure they stay on script, and provides the virtual audience with the
experience that the speaker is speaking directly to them.
The devil is in the details. For speakers being recorded from a
platform such as Zoom, enlist your audiovisual team in providing tips on
lighting and an appropriate background as well as testing the quality of sound
on the device the speaker plans to record from such as a computer or phone. Let
speakers coming into a studio know in advance what the backdrop will be and
advise on appropriate attire.
Provide info on COVID precautions. Whether you have speakers
coming into a studio or being filmed by an audiovisual or video team at another
location, provide written details in advance on the safety and sanitation
protocol that will be in place.
You can check out our July2019 blog “10 Ways to Help Your Speakers Prepare for Success.”
Join Us Online This Saturday, August 1!
We could not be more excited about our next virtual event, the Guthrie Theater Virtual Benefit this Saturday, August 1 at 7:00 p.m. Register hereto join us for
this livestreamed program featuring Sally Wingert as emcee, performances by locally and nationally acclaimed artists, and an exciting online auction which is open for bidding now. There is no cost to attend.
In closing, here is my take on a popular quote: Enjoy life now. This is not a rehearsal. (Except when you are doing a live
virtual event. Then a rehearsal is essential!)