Meetings Pro Tip: Rethink Your Approach to Hybrid Presentations

Hybrid presenters now have to consider two audiences—and that means they might need to revamp their presentation style accordingly.

Presenting in person while knowing that your work will eventually become an on-demand virtual session might create challenges for speakers, as well as the planners managing the event.

But thinking about the issue holistically so that you’re managing the needs of both audiences could help your session find a way forward so attendees get the most out of it, no matter the setting.

What’s the Strategy?

In a recent piece for Fast Company, Anett Grant, CEO of Executive Speaking, Inc., made the case that speakers should rejigger their in-person strategies to avoid getting lost in the virtual environment.

For starters: Stand still.

“You need to embrace the belief that standing still projects authority, and that balance projects strength,” she wrote. “You can’t stride around the room and stay on-screen unless you’re in a high-production meeting with cameras following you. Embrace the mindset that remaining still is strong, and balance, whether you’re standing or sitting, projects strength.”

Other strategies she recommends include limiting the use of slides and finding ways to fill the airtime. “On screen, you disappear when you don’t talk,” she pointed out.

Why Is It Effective?

If it sounds like hybrid presentations require a bit more preparation than your standard in-person event, that’s because they do. But as Alison Squillacioti of American Express Meetings & Events explained in a recent blog post, presenters need to put in that work to accommodate multiple kinds of audiences.

“When you are doing an event in person, a presenter can walk into the general session room two hours beforehand and say, ‘Here you go. Here’s my final slide deck,’” she said. “Well, you can’t do that when you’re having a virtual or hybrid event. There’s a lot more testing that needs to be done to make sure everything is working.”

But by putting the extra time in to balance both audiences, you’re likely to get better results in the long run.

What’s the Potential?

Of course, just because you’re presenting in more than one setting doesn’t mean you can’t be interactive, as shown by a recent webinar from Northstar Meetings Group about keeping online attendees engaged through interactive means. According to Successful Meetings, Play with a Purpose CEO Sharon Fisher proved this point by using a smartphone-based illustration app that gave attendees a prompt: “What engages you?”

“All of the nerves in your fingers are connected to nerves in your brain that stimulate your brain to pay attention,” Fisher said. “So, if you’re doodling or you’re drawing, or you’re doing any kind of art, then that brings alive your brain cells, and it’s a great way to have a conversation.”

If you’re simply looking to keep your attendees focused and engaged in your presentation, finding ways to present effectively in two settings is a great idea. But adding tech-enabled engagement could be a stretch goal.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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