A debate is currently raging in the business world as to whether remote work should be normalized or people should start getting back into the office. It’s a complex debate fueled by post-pandemic stress, high gas prices, and Elon Musk, among other factors, and both sides make valid points.
The viability of remote work depends largely on what sort of work an individual is doing. One role that has emerged as surprisingly well suited for doing remotely is that of a keynote speaker at a conference or event.
Harnessing the Power of Videoconferencing to Improve Keynote Addresses
Those who have been collecting fond memories at in-person conferences may initially balk at the thought of a remote keynote speaker. The keynote, after all, is akin to the main event or headlining act at a conference, so it can seem like an anticlimactic idea to have someone literally phone it in.
In reality, virtual events and remote speakers vastly increase flexibility and potential reach while also offering a wide range of benefits for audiences, the speakers themselves, and your conference planning committee.
Here are some of the most notable benefits of transitioning away from in-person conferences to virtual speaker events:
Wider reach. While some successful professionals regularly travel from coast to coast or even beyond to attend high-profile conferences, many other would-be conference attendees are limited by logistics and financial considerations. A virtual program allows you to take your program from regional to global to attract attendees (and speakers) from anywhere around the world.
Cost efficiency. While most people are not willing to pay as much to attend a virtual conference as they would an in-person event, this is more than made up for by the much lower overhead involved in running a virtual event. The fact that you can run a virtual conference from your office without renting out a hotel or convention center already puts you thousands ahead of the game. Thousands more are saved by the fact you don’t have to feed attendees or pass out the customary bag of freebies upon check-in.
Flexible scheduling. Since your keynote speaker is appearing to conference-goers via a computer or phone screen, they could even potentially pre-record their keynote address and send it to you in advance of the event. Note that this will preclude the ability for audience interaction or question and answer sessions, which isn’t ideal. On the upside, some speakers may charge a smaller fee for pre-recorded video than they would for a real-time virtual appearance.
Comfort and accessibility. With a virtual event, everyone can see clearly, control their own volume, eat whatever they want for lunch, and sit on their favorite piece of furniture. Nobody has an obstructed view from a corner table that requires twisting their neck at an awkward angle just to see the back of the keynote speaker’s head. Everyone gets to attend the conference on their own terms, and it makes for a more comfortable and productive experience.
Social media integration. With the explosion of virtual programs and meetings in 2020, social media companies began to provide additional integration for video streaming and teleconferencing. For example, you can create an event, advertise it, and host it without ever leaving Facebook.
Longevity. With a traditional in-person conference, it’s pretty much over once the last session concludes and the feedback forms have been collected. Some conferences post recordings of their sessions afterward, but often the audio and video aren’t great. With an event specifically designed around digitally streaming video, it’s simple to capture high-quality copies of sessions so that they can be shared and utilized for years to come.
In-Person Events With Remote Speakers
As we slowly transition into post-pandemic life, it’s inevitable that an uptick in in-person conferences and events will follow. But even in-person conferences can benefit from videoconferencing technology by hosting speakers remotely while attendees congregate and network live. With a projector and a screen — standard equipment in any modern conference room — you can turn your keynote speech into an almost theatrical experience.
While it is not the same as having a live keynote speaker, hosting a speaker in their own environment puts them at greater ease and saves you the additional expense of transporting and accommodating them. It can also give the audience greater insight into their lives and personalities. Who doesn’t love trying to read a colleague’s bookshelf during a Zoom meeting, after all? Room microphones and P.A. equipment can be set up to allow interactivity between the audience and a remote speaker.
The Virtual Future of Keynote Speakers
Remember, you’re hiring a keynote speaker for their ability to use storytelling to make connections between your messaging and your conference attendees. On a lesser level, you might also be hiring them for their charisma, their reputation, or their industry expertise. Having them do their work from afar via streaming video does not negatively impact their ability to give a powerful keynote address in any tangible way. Whether you’re planning a fully virtual event or streaming a keynote speech to a room of live attendees, planning for a virtual keynote speaker increases your options and lowers your costs.