Blaire Palmer is a keynote speaker and a world authority on leadership and the future of work. A former BBC Journalist, she shares her insights from 20 years of coaching and provoking leadership teams with conference audiences all over the world.
Jerry Seinfeld once said that 90% of people would rather die than give a presentation, which means that the vast majority of people would rather be in the coffin at a funeral, rather than give the eulogy…
And presenting at an online event can be just as uncomfortable…
But, not to worry, throughout this blog series I’m going to be sharing with you some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years from my experience with public speaking.
Regardless, of whether your conference or trade event is in person or online, your job as a speaker is to make an impact on your audience, to come across with both credibility and confidence (even if you’re actually really nervous on the inside…). And above all, appear natural and in charge of the tech (even if you’re giving your presentation from your spare bedroom with the neighbours dog barking in the background). Now doing all that is a lot easier said than done… believe me I know… so we’re going to take it step by step, exploring together the various ways you can become the compelling, confident and awesome speaker you know you are!
First up in our journey is LIGHTING!
“Witness protection” lighting
The biggest problem (although it’s incredibly easy to fix) is lighting. We’ve all sat through virtual team meetings where it looks like half your colleagues are in witness protection – where they’re sitting against a window and the natural lighting has turned them in to a silhouette of themselves. At face-to-face events, a team takes care of the lighting for you. But if you’re using Remo for your conference, YOU’RE now the lighting specialist!
Buy some ring lights
You can of course experiment with places in your house that gives you the best natural light, and that’s fine for day-to-day or casual meetings. But if you’re speaking at a big conference you won’t regret purchasing a couple of simple ring lights.
I use a Hakutatz 13″ Continuous LED Ring Light with Stand and a Vevice 10” dimmable ring light which comes with a full height tripod (this one is similar)
Before the event begins, experiment with the effects different lighting has on your face and on your background.
Most ring lights come with 3 different colors of light – a white light, a yellow light and a blue light and you can even adjust the intensity of the light based on your preferences.
Film yourself and then Film again
Most of us don’t like to look at ourselves on screen… but now is the time to get used to it. Record yourself with the lights set to various different settings, heights and positions, and then take a good look at yourself. Does one height give you three chins? Does the blue light give you eye bags? You’re looking for the combination that makes you look awake, healthy and expressive (so your audience can discern your subtle expressions.)
In future blogs, I will talk a lot about expression in the face and how to perform for the screen. But here’s a sneak peek… subtle changes in your facial expressions create ‘dynamics’ – something I’ll explain in more detail in the coming posts. If people can’t see these subtle changes in your face – an eyebrow raise or that playful smirk that lets them know you’re just toying with them – and this is the serious bit, your presentation will feel flat. And you definitely don’t want that.
So, make sure you test out whether your lighting set up allows your audience to easily see these subtle expressions before your event begins. And after that film again to check!
It’s worth the effort
You may feel rather self-conscious putting this much effort in to lighting your face. (Wait until I start talking clothes and make up, if you think lighting is a lot of fuss!). But here’s why it matters…
A presentation isn’t about imparting information. If it was, you would just send out a word doc and be done with it.
It’s about human connection. It’s the emotions that you generate in your audience that make the difference between having an impact and having a nap. It’s too easy at an online conference for your audience to be distracted, try to multitask or simply log in and then leave. For your event to be BETTER than face to face you need to consider the ways that onscreen visuals work, how to leverage the platform to really go in to the minds of your staff, customers, stakeholders, whoever your audience is and form an intimate connection.
And you know what, it seems counter-intuitive, but it’s actually possible for online to feel MORE personal than being one of the 300 delegates packed in to a conference hall while a VP in your business struts up and down the stage at the far end of the room.
And getting your lighting right is just the first step.
Now that your lighting’s online-conference ready, you need to make sure your surroundings are as well… so check back here next week to learn some quick tips on setting up your desk so you’re ready to inspire with your words!
Blaire Palmer is a speaker mentor. Reach out to us if you’d like her advice or help on how you and your speakers can give presentations that inspire and engage your online audience.