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Hybrid Meetings: Connecting with Your Virtual Audience

August 1, 2013

Any speaker who addresses an audience has a commitment to create a connection with that audience. It is easiest to create that connection at an in-person event because the audience can be seen. But what about when the audience cannot be seen? What happens when eye contact cannot be established? When body language cannot be read? What do you do when you are speaking at a hybrid meeting or a virtual meeting? When your audience is a virtual audience?

This is how you can connect with the virtual audience through the camera lens…

  • RELAX: Take a deep breath and remember that the virtual audience wants to be motivated by you and learn from you.
  • SMILE: Non-verbal cues assist the virtual audience in determining how they feel about you and what you are saying, so a natural smile will add a positive impression to your message.
  • BE NATURAL: Don’t let a piece of equipment change your personality or how you act on a day-to-day basis. If you act natural, your message will be more readily received.
  • HAVE A CHAT: Think of your session as a casual chat as opposed to a serious presentation and you will naturally loosen up and be more conversational.
  • REALIZE THE CAMERA IS ONE PERSON: Don’t put pressure on yourself by imagining that a huge audience is watching you. The camera is merely one person with whom you are having an intimate conversation.
  • MAKE EYE-CONTACT: Now that you realize that the camera is only one person, make eye contact with the camera and the in-person audience as you would naturally do so while having a chat with multiple people.
  • MAKE IT PERSONAL: Speak directly to the camera when addressing the virtual audience or answering a question from the virtual audience.
  • BE INCLUSIVE: Include the virtual audience in your thought process by asking questions directly to the virtual audience and asking for their responses.
  • BE APPRECIATIVE: Attempt to answer as many of the virtual audience’s questions as possible, and be sure to answer all remaining questions privately after your session.

And remember…

  • Do not be afraid of the camera or be un-nerved by the camera.
  • Be 100 percent comfortable and relaxed because the camera will amplify your discomfort.
  • Be dynamic in your delivery style because the camera flattens you out even more so than how you appear in real life.
  • Speak clearly in the direction of the microphone.
  • Think quickly on your feet and do not get flustered.
  • Be willing to go with the flow and do not be married to a script.
  • Appreciate the virtual audience…especially because the virtual audience tends to be more vocal than the in-person audience and has a wider reach “in the moment.”
  • Ensure that neither the virtual nor the in-person audience gets bored or feels neglected by speaking passionately and from the heart.

In conclusion…

There are more distractions to take the virtual audience’s attention away from your session than if they were sitting right in front of you in the room. So if you are dull or monotonous, or if you do not make eye contact, the virtual audience will give up easier and sooner than the in-person audience…and walk away. Don’t let this happen.

Break a leg!

Hybrid Meeting Consultant/Virtual Emcee Emilie Barta's 15-plus years of broadcast/video experience AND live event experience enable her to help meeting, conference and trade show organizers plan successful, visually stimulating and interactive hybrid events. Emilie Barta Productions maintains a website at www.emiliebarta.com.

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About the author
Emilie Barta