Managing Speakers in Virtual Events

When producing in-person experiences it’s not uncommon to have minimal interaction with speakers leading up to an event. There may or may not be advance communication on a script or talking points, we’ll occasionally have a pre-production call, and oftentimes only a brief  soundcheck pre-event (how many times have we heard that so-and-so “is a real pro, and does this ALL the time” - aka, no perceived need for rehearsal). Virtual events however are a much different story, as they require significantly more speaker prep time and interaction in advance.  


Here are a few key elements to keep in mind when selecting, securing and prepping speakers for a virtual event:

  • The Role. With the time and intricacies of virtual preparation, it may be worth considering having fewer speakers take on more significant roles within your program. This can not only reduce the complexity and cost, but also help make for a more efficient Run of Show.


  • Tech Assessment. We ask all virtual speakers to fill out an assessment so we can get our arms around their at-home setup, level of experience in presenting virtually, and any additional equipment needs. If a budget does not allow for additional equipment, there are plenty of ways to maximize existing setups, but that can require more time and effort on their side as well.


  • Setting up Equipment. If sending drop kits to speakers, remember the equipment will need to be set up and tested with them in real time. Setup time will vary based on the kit contents. Also note that speakers will have to re-box and ship equipment back post-event.


  • Rehearsal & Runthrough. Either immediately following the tech setup, or closer to the week of the event (when the script is finalized and graphics submitted!), you will need dedicated time to do a more complete run through with speakers. If they’re a part of a panel, that will need to include everyone. Depending on the scale of the speaker’s larger role (i.e. Emcee vs. Panelist), there may be multiple layers to rehearse and review, including content, technology, contingency plans, etc. 


  • Show Time. On event day, you’ll want to require all speakers to login an hour pre-show for any last-minute testing, confirming the framing of the camera shot and background, testing the comms systems and reiterating contingency plans. 


  • Yes, this applies for a pre-recorded event too! Note that if you are pre-recording some or all of your speakers this will save them time on event-day, but most of these steps will still be required for video capture. Depending on the goals and production quality, a pre-record may even factor in multiple takes or angles for an edit and therefore more time. 


Note: we will talk more about live vs. pre-recording in an upcoming blast! If there’s anything else you want to hear about, please let us know by filling out the form below!