Utility Warehouse used their recent Virtual Express Day to launch their new UW branding new green tariffs, new charity foundation and new incentives.

The second week of March is normally a hectic one for me with over 7000 delegates at a weekend event in Telford.

This year was no exception, except … there were no delegates.

You may have read some of my previous blogs about presenting on video. That is a skill that I reckon will be more and more useful in the months ahead as companies communicate virtually with their staff and their customers.

All the speakers at the UW conference had a crash course in video presenting when their event was cancelled on Thursday evening, due to concerns about spreading Coronavirus in a hot indoor arena.  3500 delegates were expected at the International Conference Centre on Saturday and a further 3500 on Sunday. We did not want to let them down.

As Wes Linden, our host for the event, said: “if you can’t come to us, then we will come to you” … and that is exactly what we did, using Zoom technology to stream the event, as live, on Saturday and Sunday to all the teams around the UK.

As you might imagine, Thursday night was spent re-writing the scripts to make them work on video.  The trick to that is to keep the message short and even more simple than you would if you were speaking on stage.

When you appear on a small screen in the viewer’s living room, you are competing with cups of tea, the cat, the children and all the trappings of everyday life for attention.

In 2020, TV watching is rarely something we give our whole attention to and production companies have changed the speed of the plot in soap operas and weekly series to accommodate this.  How many times in a reality TV show do you get a recap from the narrator to make sure we all know what is happening? As a speaker, you need to keep it punchy on video.

On Friday we recorded all the key messages of the day as live.  All the presenters did a fantastic job and took on board some simple steps to make their performances count.

My best advice to make a live event work on video is to avoid being a newsreader.

We rigged two cameras and three autocue screens so that the presenters could move around the stage and not feel rooted to the spot staring straight down a camera lens.

Body language is key to generating rapport on the small screen, just as it is on the big stage.  However, remember that big gestures can make you look a little over-excited.  The power zone for your hand movements is directly in front of you and at a height between your waist and your shoulders.

Anything you do with your hands in front of the middle of your body will help create interest with your audience.  Hands either behind your back or permanently at your sides just does not work either on video or on stage.

To ensure you are interesting throughout your speech keep your energy levels high.  It is hard work presenting well on autocue to an empty hall.  I often use the technique of adding “//” at the beginning of a new paragraph on the autocue, to remind the speaker to start that section with renewed energy.

Your speech is not one long monologue. Think of it rather as a set of short stories within a framework.  That way you can give yourself a mental energy boost at the beginning of each new section.

Sometimes it helps to see techniques in action rather than read about them on the page, so to get a glimpse behind the scenes at the UW Express Day, take a look at the video above.

Humour, eye contact, energy and gestures can all close the distance and make everyone feel as if they’re in the room together!

If you would like help with presenting well at virtual events or on conference calls …

Shouldn’t we be talking?  0044 7836 318764

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