Presenters all over the world are getting ready to inspire audiences on stage and in-person again. So we’re back to normal, right? Not exactly. With the addition of hybrid technology and current safety guidelines, presenting will look a little different this year. Hybrid will mean more cameras and screens to keep track of, as well as having to engage both virtual and in-person audiences. But more importantly, presenters will need to find new ways to make everyone feel connected after a year of not being connected in-person at all. It’s a tall order, but it can be done. Here are our top tips for creating a slam dunk presentation at a hybrid or in-person event.
Create camaraderie amongst attendees.
For a recent CrossFit competition, the organizers streamed the event simultaneously from 4 different locations, with teams of athletes participating in each location. While this concept was not new, the thing that stuck out the most to us was the teamwork in each group. Hybrid presenters have a unique opportunity to inspire groups of people to work together, simultaneously, anywhere in the world. In a hybrid future, a presenter can give a task to the people attending in-person, and a task to the people attending virtually, and then allow everyone to present their ideas at the end. We often think of hybrid as uniting the virtual and in-person event world, but before we do that, maybe would be easier to start by connecting the people who are in the same room (or on the same Zoom).
Show more of your smile (and less of your slides).
Let’s face it, people aren’t going to be attending in-person and hybrid events in 2021 to see a PowerPoint. Attendees are there to see different presentations from anything they might have seen in 2020 in the virtual world. The best way to make this happen is to keep your face front and center. It’s very easy to tune out a PowerPoint. But a real face, on the screen, or in-person, that’s harder to ignore, even virtually. Also, keep in mind that we haven’t been face-to-face in a while, so getting back to that just meeting in the same room is honestly kinda exciting to begin with. So lose the slides, and just focus on people.
Think less presentation, more conversation
Variety recently pointed out that Oscar’s plan for presenters to do more talking seemed like a good idea on paper, but in reality, it ended up making things a little slow. In retrospect, we think it might have been much more interesting to develop a dialogue with the audience. Most of Hollywood and movie-making shut down for the last year. So instead of scripted event presentations, it might have been more entertaining to talk to the filmmakers in the audience about how they were able to still produce films in 2021, and keep moving forward. Attendees aren’t going to events just to listen to people talk, they are going to connect, in-person. Presenters can be the ones to reach out from the stage and make that happen.
Present ideas that are useful for right now.
Motivational speaker Simon Sinek gave a recent TED interview about how he had lost his motivation during the last year, and how he overcame that. The conversation included simple, real-world tips and exercises for finding inspiration in difficult times, all based on his own experience. Everyone has a story from last year and a challenge they overcame. Think of this as your starting point for an impactful presentation — and your inspiration for developing unique ideas for your audience. No matter what industry you are in, everyone had to figure out new ways to do things last year. This is a chance to present those new ideas to people who can actually use them right now.
Good visuals are key.
A visual aid can help you explain a complex idea that you have in your head. Think how important whiteboards are in the office. But if you really want to get your point across — sometimes it’s usually best to bring in the professionals. We recently worked with InkFactory, a company that can draw and visualize all of your ideas, all while you are presenting. The end result was amazing, check it out. But it’s not just live drawing that works, companies like SketchEffect can create pixel-perfect animated stories to introduce and highlight the big ideas in your presentation. The best part is — these drawings are 100 percent unique, visually interesting, and they represent your personal ideas and concepts brought to life for everyone to see. Now that’s what we call a presentation.
Don’t forget to advertise
One of the best ways to increase engagement during your presentation is to advertise the event on your own social media channels. Now, we know that self-promotion can be a drag, but in the social media-driven world we live in, the connection you make with your audience can start well before you step on stage. It can start simply talking about how you are excited about your presentation, a bit about your topic, and engaging with your audience’s response. You don’t want to give away your whole presentation, but you do want people already thinking about your topic before they walk in the room. The video above is from John Krasinski (Jim from the office), promoting the first in-person screening of his movie — A Quiet Place Two. It’s all about the fans, people.
Do a practice run.
Presenting can be complicated right now. There are mask and social distancing guidelines to consider. Also, if it’s a hybrid event, you’ll want to get used to talking into all the different cameras. Whatever the set-up, it’s best to test everything out. If you are presenting in a mask, find one that is comfortable, and can still talk to people while wearing it. As far as technology, ask the organizers where the cameras will be if you can test any slides or videos of your own. Keep in mind, your event might be one of the venue’s first hybrid or in-person events in a year. It could be your first as well! So it’s best to make sure everything is set up to go smoothly when you get on stage
When in doubt, just help people connect.
After a year of no in-person events, the number one job for presenters right now is helping people feel more connected. This can be done with group tasks and exercises. Or even by just making sure that people can see you (and not your slides on a computer screen) when you are talking. Whatever you do, focus on bringing people together. This is what events are all about anyways.