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Are virtual events too casual?

Here’s how to add some professional polish, courtesy of Neal Woodson, communications manager and event producer at innoVia Productions.

Imagine an ideal virtual event: a speaker looks professional, confident, sitting at their desk in an organized office with perfect lighting.

The meeting is engaging with clear audio and beautiful slides. There is no fumbling with technology, and everything works well.

Do these virtual meetings really happen? Yes, but all too often, they are plagued by issues. Many of the problems begin with something like your company’s first casual Friday when someone did not read the memo and showed up in jeans and sneakers. It is called “being too casual.”

What’s too casual? Presenters speaking from a disorganized room. A person on screen with a halo because the lighting is behind them. A face so bright you cannot make out who it is. A dog barking or a loved one walking through a shot. A speaker presenting from a coffee shop or outdoors in a park or at the beach.

Speakers who begin their presentations while muted. Audio that gets chopped up by poor WI-FI. Those embarrassing moments when someone shares their screen only to show us their messy desktop or vacation photos when they meant to be sharing PowerPoint. Presenters who show up just in the nick of time and appear unprepared trying to figure out how things work.

These and many more are the sins of being too casual while presenting online.

What are the consequences? Diminished impact. It makes something important just that little bit less important. It communicates a message that what the presenter is saying is not essential to them so there is really no reason for the audience to pay attention or to take it too seriously.

And since no presenter wants any of these issues, here are five tips to remedy this situation:

1. Find an appropriate space. Think about what your audience will see behind you. Make sure your space is neat and represents you well.

2. Appearance & Light. Dress for the occasion and make sure you are lit from the front. Test it. Turn on your camera and see what you look like. If you are too bright, turn down the light or lower a curtain.

3. Presentation. Create slides without too much content so they support you and don’t outshine you.

4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Have your slides ready to allow for rehearsal time and get a good night’s sleep ahead of the meeting.

5. Tech check. Test the meeting platform you will be using. Make sure your Wi-Fi is up to the challenge and that you know how to screen share or adjust your settings as the meeting itself is not the time to figure it out.

6. Listen to the experts. If you are using a meeting planner or an event production company, follow their advice. They have done this many times, they have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly so they know what works and what does not. They want you to look good and the event to be a success.

This content is sponsored by innoVia Productions.


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