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2020 is the ultimate year for online events. Due to the current situation, digital events have developed into real alternatives to traditional events over the course of the year. As a presenter, I therefore started to deal with the switch to online events at a very early stage.

In this article, I would like to focus on how useful it can be to plan virtual presenting for digital events from the very beginning. I will look at what advantages online presenters bring with them and also how they “pay for themselves”.

The transition from offline to online was initially quite bad. People didn’t really want to get used to “just online”. Many people, especially entrepreneurs, still had the outdated idea that online was limited to Skype… or maybe Aunt Jetti’s “I bake an apple pie” webinar.

Nevertheless, some recognized the signs of the times early on. While many people were only just starting to set up their ideal home office, excellent online events, hybrid events and digital team meetings were being created at the same time, and it would be impossible to imagine the future without them. The non-plus-ultra of online events are currently Tony Robbins’ events, which I already mentioned in my blog post about hybrid events. For me personally, these events are the most successful symbiosis of off and online events to date. New standards are regularly set here.

Digital events are here to stay.

“An online event is just a digital offline event!” Wrong!

Many event organizers and entrepreneurs were and still are overwhelmed by the digitalization of their event. Their focus is primarily on finding the right tool for their video conference. They may still be concerned about data protection and the possibilities of interaction with the participants. All according to the motto: “We just go online; with the right technology it will fit.” That is not enough!

Let’s look into the question together: what has a decisive influence on the success of an online event, a digital event or a web conference? 

The question is easy to answer: the measuring stick for the success of an online event is simply the audience. After all, the viewer is the main actor to whom our full attention should be focused. There are two points in particular that are decisive here: 

  • Is my audience satisfied?
  • Can I tie them further to my company? 

Is the audience interested, do its members feel drawn in and are they ready to take the next step or register for the next (online) event? These are the target parameters that determine success or failure.

And this is exactly the point: no matter how technically sophisticated the event may be, if the audience does not understand the message or if no emotions are triggered in the virtual space, the event will be a flop. This is where a virtual presenter comes into play: the host is the informative and emotional link in a digital event, and is crucial to its success.

He or she guarantees a level of added value for the audience that should not be underestimated. And we’re not talking about a normal presenter here, possibly the trainee from the mail department who is supposed to host such an online meeting because he knows so much about the internet; we are talking about a professional presenter who understands and knows how to meet the needs of the audience.

A virtual presenter is the link between speakers, artists and the audience. He or she is in charge of the overall concept and can bridge technical problems in a playful and skillful way. He or she plays with the audience and creates magic moments, just like on the real stage.


The online presenter determines the first impression of an event

As with live events, the presenter is the face of an event. He or she introduces the company or the coach who is hosting the digital event. Because they are the first to be noticed by the audience, professional presenters radiate professionalism and ensure a good atmosphere from the very beginning.

The “Master of Online Ceremony” is the contact person for the audience and gives them a feeling of security. He or she guides them through the event and provides orientation. If questions arise such as “Who is the next speaker? How long is the break? How do I get into my breakout room?”, then he or she is the link and orientation point for the audience, where all the threads come together.

What new challenges does an online presenter face?

A professional presenter who has facilitated live events in large arenas and stages or a TV presenter who is used to talking into a camera in the studio does not automatically have to be a good presenter for digital events. The ideal host for virtual events needs a completely new skillset:

  • The special challenge is that the audience is not present in person. They are there and visible on different monitors, but the actual communication is done via camera. For me as an online presenter, this means that the impressions are coming at me in compressed form. I make sure that the communication is directed in the right direction.
  • As an online presenter, it is definitely a plus to be technically minded in order to understand the technical process and to be able to use it better for yourself. This does not mean that you are responsible for the technology, but it does make it a little easier to gain a general basic understanding.
  • At digital events with several hundred or thousand viewers, the presenter usually also has several assistants who, for example, monitor the chat and respond there. The direction, however, is in the hands of the presenter, who must be able to decide which questions are prioritized and communicate this to his assistants.

It is in the interest of the company to outsource the position of the digital presenter, placing it in professional hands. This allows in-house resources to be kept free and employees to be assigned to other tasks.

Moderator for online events studio

How can the online facilitator support the speaker?

Speakers and artists are busy with their presentations during live performances. It makes it much easier for them when a professional presenter takes over their time management and interacts with the virtual audience. 

The digital presenter takes over:

  • the time management,
  • engaging the audience
  • and supporting the aim of the event.

Time Management

The presenter has to keep track of the time. It is his task to give signals, slow down the audience and end discussions, especially when those that take place as part of Q&A rounds go beyond the scope of the meeting. This requires experience and sensitivity. An online event thrives because the presenter can skillfully perform the balancing act of letting exciting discussions continue and putting a stop to endless discussions in order to avoid any misunderstandings. The presenter is not responsible for the live chat; he has assistants for this. He must, however, have an overview of the entire program, and is responsible for proper coordination.

Interaction with the audience

The core task of every presenter remains interaction with the audience. As mentioned several times, presenting is the bridge between event and audience. A professional host can also digitally detect the mood of his audience. He pays attention to netiquette and skillfully resolves tricky discussions.

The aim of the event

A good presenter knows the goal of the event very well and knows how to support and implement it. He steers through specific questions, repeats and summarizes. In this way, he can steer the audience in the right direction. It is of course wrong if the audience feels pushed or manipulated. With a professional who guides through the online event, this will hardly ever happen.

A top presenter finances himself

… a daring statement, which in my experience is true. This is especially true of top presenters who lead online events, as they are regularly involved in the sales process of the follow-up events. The virtual presenter is capable of pushing the sales of coaching programs or future events by his charisma alone, but also does so via targeted sales-tactics. 

Why is this so? On the one hand, the presenter is close to the audience: the audience trusts him if he does his job well. On the other hand, he is suitably distant from the coach or keynote speaker who wants to sell his program. A smart recommendation at an event does not entail blatantly bragging about the market, but promotes sales. The power of a recommendation by an outsider can also be used.

More and more top coaches, such as #1 Life Coach Tony Robbins or #1 Marketer Jay Abraham, rely on the skills of a good presenter, who also takes over the upselling, i.e. the selling. This means that the trainer or company is the expert who delivers the content and the presenter is the one who opens up new opportunities for the viewers. Since this activity is usually regulated with a slightly lower fixed fee and a commission on the sales success, the top presenter thus finances himself.

Online events have come to stay

It is an exciting time. Of course I am also looking forward to the “real” events, where I am in one room with my audience. Offline events will always make my heart beat faster.

But every change also holds the chance to rise above oneself. Online events and digital meetings will continue to grow. Technology makes it possible to reach and interact with thousands of people across space and time. This is something that fascinates me personally. We are only at the beginning of the development of such events here and I am happy to be right in the middle of it.

If you are in the process of setting up a virtual event yourself, feel free to contact me. I will help you – both with setting up the event and as a presenter!

What about you? Have you already been a participant in a virtual event? Have you and your team ever thought about having a professional virtually facilitate an event? Leave me your opinion in the comments!


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