Since the pandemic hit full-strength in March and forced shutdowns and event cancellations, public Speakers have had to adapt with fluidity and grace. Many of my Members were asking how they could keep their speaking businesses in the black while not being able to travel and speak live from the stage.
We talked about developing new streams of revenue or expanding into other service areas to bring in more fees while speaking live was on hold, seemingly indefinitely. Creating courses, writing books, selling online group coaching clubs, and creating paid Facebook groups are all still on the menu.
But in recent months, the trend has solidified which has meeting planners and event hiring managers adapting to the pandemic speaking climate by fully embracing virtual summits, events, and conferences. Even small businesses and lesser-known corporations are jumping on board for the virtual conferences and company-wides that they schedule each year to reach and engage their staff and build and maintain morale.
I have heard from many of our Members here at Charli Jane Speakers that they have not only adapted to the new virtual event environment, but that they are thriving in it as a keynote or guest speaker delivering their speeches and talks from their home or otherwise socially-isolated office. Several have booked multiple events and are keeping their speaking coffers filled with fees while waiting for the pandemic to pass.
You can adapt to tap into the virtual speaking industry as well. Here are some tips to help you make sure you put your best (online) foot forward.
Here’s how to position yourself as a go-to speaker for the meeting planners and decision-makers who are still in desperate need of excellent and engaging experts for their audiences.
- Make sure that your digital setup is the very best you can afford. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get the equipment needed to present yourself in the best manner for your virtual appearances. But you will need to invest in some equipment if you do not already have the basics. Here’s a list: High-Quality Web-Cam – don’t always trust that the one that is built into your computer is sufficient. Often, they are afterthoughts and are very low quality. The same goes for the mic on your device. Be sure to test both and if you need to invest in pluggable or stand-alone streaming devices, then do so. Some speakers invest in webcams that follow you around the room – you wear a small remote and the camera swivels to follow you as you move. This can be a good choice if you just can’t present without standing or walking. There are affordable choices for your tech that can seriously improve what you look like and how you sound to your audiences as your stream with them. I can’t stress testing them enough beforehand, however.
- Invest in good lighting. Make sure that you have lighting that will not trick and confuse your camera and cause constant refocusing. Minimize backlighting and make sure you don’t rely solely on natural lighting. Natural lighting is best and makes you look the best, but only if it’s consistent and bright enough – but not too bright so as to glare. As we move into Winter, the quality of natural light in many parts of the world is not bright or warm enough to help you look your best. Inexpensive ring lights on stands – one at both your right front and left front position can work wonders.
- You may need to bite the belt and pay for that more expensive internet speed. With so many folks online for work, school, and gaming these days as most of us are waiting things out at home, ISPs are overwhelmed by bandwidth demand. If you can afford to do so, put yourself at the head of the up/download line by going for the higher bandwidth packages or even fiber if it’s in your area. It’s most likely an eligible business expense anyway. The last thing you want to happen is lagging, buffering, and dropping sessions make you look like a newbie who isn’t in it to win it. Only the Queen of England can get away with that and still be endearing.
- Don’t trust what you look like in the box on your computer screen. I mentioned testing things out. Be sure to video chat with some trusted friends who will tell you the truth about how you look and sound. Tweak your setup until you get rave and real reviews – before going live online with your potential hiring parties and certainly before the big event.
- Dress for success. We are powerfully affected by how we dress. So, dress in the same way you would for a live appearance. And yes, top to bottom – no business on top only and jammies on the bottom. It will truly make a difference in how you feel and the persona and gravitas you convey.
- Once you have all of your equipment and signal delivery set up maxed out and ready to rock it, then think of added value for your audiences as a selling point to the bookers. Offer an extended Q&A after your main talk – people can break out into a separate “room” with you and get more one-on-one time with you. Offer a follow up live chat in your free facebook group. Selling from the stage rules and protocols still apply even in virtual events, so be careful to adhere to your contract and best practices.
- And speaking of contracts, you should still have a clause in there to cover cancellations. Even virtual events can get cancelled or the attendance may be reduced significantly. Think about what you would want to do in this case and write it into your speaking contract. When speaking for groups you are hoping to leverage that appearance into future events, product-, program- and service-sales, so if the event is cancelled or there are only a handful of “live” attendees when you were sold on the idea that there would be 100s or more, then address what should be done in your contract. Event planners don’t wish to alienate their popular and go-to speakers, so they might want to offer you a future live event or pre-sales of your book. Make sure you get those promises in writing.
Thinking outside of the box – the box being the ones we’ve all been mostly stuck in for most of 2020 now – can help you sustain and even expand your speaking business.
Who knows, with the right set up and approach, you may decide to stay off the road for good, even when it is safe to travel and speak live from the stage again. For now, you have a solid plan to make sure your speaking skills stay honed and you are appearing as the expert in your field – even if it is from your sofa.
If you are ready to learn, share, network, mind-hive, and grow I invite you to join us in our Grow Your Speaking Biz Facebook group today. You will be glad you did.