Guess what? Your keynote presentation for a virtual meeting isn’t going to work.

December 4, 2020 Synergetic Helpful Information

If you are a keynote presenter, the following article is going to help you deliver a better virtual presentation, attract more customers, and allow you to command more money.

Keynote presentations for an in-person event and keynote presentations for a virtual event are very different. And we would know. For 20 years we have provided audio visual for meetings and events in ballrooms all over the country. We have listened to your keynote presentations. Thousands of them. Few are good. Most are average. And some are downright awful. For the last 8 months, we have listened to those same keynotes as we have helped our customers pivot to virtual meetings. And we are seeing the same thing with these keynotes. But in the virtual world, more of them are not connecting with the viewers.

Keynote presenters are delivering their presentation just as they would if they were on a stage. But the thing is, they’re not. They’re on a little screen. And within seconds, they are losing the attention of their viewers.

You cannot fall into this trap. You need to put thought into how you are going to change your delivery, your tone, your entire presentation…but don’t change the message. Your message is what got you the gig, so keep that end goal in mind. Just change how you get there.

Here are some things to consider:

You are up against a lot distractions with your viewers being at home. Tip #1: You will need to make sure your first few sentences give them a reason to want to watch. Tell your viewers things like: how long you will be speaking for, what topics you are going to cover, how long you will be spending on each topic, and roughly what time they can expect to hear that topic. For instance:

“Good morning, today I am going to be discussing how you can get more people to email you back from Constant Contact. This presentation will last 20 minutes, and I will be discussing 3 things. Proper subject lines will be the first thing I discuss, then at 9:08 I will be discussing formatting, and at 9:15 I will be discussing opening sentences. At 9:20, I will be taking questions until 9:30 if there are any.”

In the real world, you are used to having your audience determine for themselves when they want to look at your PPT presentation on the screens in the room, and when they want to look at you on the stage. In the virtual world, that’s not possible. You need to do that for them. You need to have a creative way to switch between the slides and yourself on screen. Tip #2: Keep the slides to a minimum. Viewers want to see YOU! Practice showing only the slides you have to.

If you had a keynote presentation that was 45 minutes long, make it 20. Almost every TEDTALK you see could be considered a “virtual event”. Would you watch a 45-minute TEDTALK? Probably not. Tip #3: Learn to get your point across quickly. You will find much more success in that.

Practice your inflection and slow down. When I was at Temple University working towards my Communications degree, my professors always kept preaching about slowing down what you say. And I see firsthand how quickly presenters are talking. Tip #4: You need to slow down your speech during a virtual event. When you watch the news (or any news related program) on TV, pay attention to how they talk.

Mannerisms are important. You do not have a stage to walk around on, so you need to rely on your face to deliver your message almost as much as the words coming out of your mouth. Tip #5: Learn to use facial expressions to your advantage.

Your copy needs to be re-written. What you said when you were on a stage, is not going to work for virtual meetings. Your copy should deliver the message in an effective and efficient manner. You have 30 seconds to win them over or they will lose interest and give in to one of the many distractions around them. Tip #6:  Read a book on script writing for TV and then re-work your copy. Your medium has changed and so should what you say.

The most effective way to stand out and gain your viewers’ attention is going to come from the technology you use. And by that, I mean the camera, microphone, and lighting.

If you want to command the attention you deserve in the virtual meeting world, you are not going to be able to do that using a $100 camera, a “ring” lighting system, and a janky green screen.  If you spent $500, you are going to get $500. That’s my philosophy.

I want you to stand out. If you invest in good equipment, your viewers will notice. The right equipment is going to make your square in the Zoom meeting look better than everyone else’s. And that is a big part of keeping their attention.

What do you need to make that work? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Get two, professional HD cameras. One camera looking at you straight on, and the other off to the side. Two camera angles keep the viewers engaged. Take a look at this camera, which we really like:


  1. You will need a video mixer to switch between the two camera feeds. You can find a nice one for $1,000. And your kids, or better half, can be your video switcher! This would do the trick for you:


  1. Get a proper microphone that you can clip onto your shirt and plug into your computer. You want a microphone that is professional so that it picks up only your voice and eliminates background noise.


  1. Invest in proper lighting. We call them ‘diva’ lights because we want you to look like a diva! We suggest something like this:


  1. Forget about a green screen or backdrop. They aren’t working and you need way too much lighting to make them look good. Try to find a room that doesn’t have a lot of windows and use the depth of the room to create a warm feel. Being up against a wall does not look good on camera. Having the whole room behind you creates depth and a more appealing visual for the viewer.


  1. If you really want to “WOW” your viewers, you can always take advantage of a professional studio like the one we have here at Synergetic. A studio gives you endless possibilities, skilled technicians to operate the equipment, and immediate access to make you look better. Worth looking into for your larger, more important presentations.

If you would like to talk more about my thoughts on this, or you just need a little guidance, email me. Let’s talk.

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