Hybrid Meetings - Virtual Audience Engagement by Speakers

August 15, 2013

There are more distractions to take a virtual audience member’s attention away from your session than an in-person audience member. On top of that, the virtual audience tends to be more vocal than the in-person audience and has a wider reach “in the moment.” Therefore, it is up to you as a speaker to engage the virtual audience just as you would engage the in-person audience. And it isn’t as hard as you think!

There are six things you can do to ensure that your virtual audience feels like an active participant and not just a passive viewer:

1. Design your session in smaller chunks of learnings with interspersed interactions to ensure that your virtual audience is constantly involved and never gets bored or distracted.

2. Add the conference hashtag and your Twitter handle to every slide to ensure that your virtual audience can easily share and discuss your knowledge and/or ask questions and provide comments.

3. Make friends with the camera operator to ensure that he/she follows your actions to constantly provide an ever-changing and visually stimulating experience for your virtual audience.

4. Welcome your virtual audience at the beginning of the session and thank them for participating at the end of the session to acknowledge them and show your appreciation for their participation.

5. Make eye contact with the camera as if it is another person in the room to ensure that your virtual audience does not feel ignored, neglected, or isolated.

6. Ask questions of the virtual audience and allow them enough time to answer to ensure that their voice is heard, they feel like a welcomed part of your audience, and the human element again takes center stage.

Even though you cannot see your virtual audience, you must actively engage them to ensure that they feel connected to your session. And when you do? Get ready for the applause!

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 Presentations maintains a website at

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Emilie Barta