Challenges With Speaking To Large Video Audiences

Every audience requires that special preparations be made
Every audience requires that special preparations be made
Image Credit: Alan Levine

As speakers, we understand that not all of our presentations are going to be the same. In fact, some of them may look nothing like any other presentation that we have ever given. In the day and age that we are currently living in we are all doing more and more of our presentations via video link. The audiences for these presentations have been growing larger and larger as more and more people become comfortable watching speakers who appear on their iPads and laptops. What that means for us is that we need to understand what we have to do in order to tailor our presentations to this new method of speaking.

Speaking To Large Audiences – Via Video

When we are presented with an opportunity to address an audience that is larger than we normally get to address, this kind of event can test our skills to the limit. We need to understand that these speaking opportunities can teach us valuable lessons about speaking when things don’t go as planned. You may have delivered many speeches, but the prospect of speaking live to a large audience can bring back your unwelcome friend: nervousness. How will you do? How will your message be received?

We all know that in order to deliver a presentation well, we are going to have to take the time to practice it. Additionally, if we will be presenting via video link, there is the potential for technical glitches. We need to practice until we knew our presentation slide by slide, word by word and gesture by gesture. Additionally, we must try to anticipate and plan for anything that could go wrong. If there will be multiple presenters on the day that you make your speech, you will want to tune in to watch, and hopefully learn from, the presenters who spoke before you. Keep in mind that all sorts of things can happen prior to your presentation starting. Where you were going to be giving the presentation from may change (you may move from an indoors location to an outdoors location). Changes such as this may mean that you will no longer be able to use slides as a part of your presentation. The internet connection where you are may not be strong enough to support streaming video and that may not allow you to watch the previous speakers. You may think that you will have time to do a practice run-through once the camera is set up.

Once again, many things that you were not counting on can occur. The setup of how you will capture your video images may be more complicated than expected, and may leave no time for a run-through. In situations like this you may want to use your computer as a makeshift teleprompter, if slides are no longer an option. As long as your computer is just below the view of the camera lens then you can use it this way. If you don’t have a timer in order to stay on track, you can open the stopwatch function on your mobile phone, set it to zero and then prop the phone next to your laptop. An important point for all of us to remember when speaking these days is to silence our phones. In fact, an even better idea is to set it to airplane mode, in order to prevent the phone from receiving calls, emails and text messages. During our presentation, there can be any one of a number of distractions that occur. If anything happens while you are speaking, you need to hold a level gaze, tone and volume.

Key Lessons For Large Audience Video Presentations

What do speakers need to know in order to be able to deliver a successful presentation to a large audience via a video link? The key lessons include understanding that the bigger the presentation, the more important it is for us to practice. This is a fundamental principle most speakers learn early in their speaking journey, and it applies to any level of experience. It’s also a key strategy for conquering the nervousness that large speaking events can induce into us.

We need to understand that body language and vocal variety are always important in any speech that we give, but they are especially critical when we are in front of the camera. Our gestures must be smooth and compact to stay within the field of view, but they must also be strong and precise. Our voice must be clear and measured, with a special emphasis on tonal variation. Don’t be afraid to use a great deal of vocal variety.

Realize that just like with the smaller presentations that we give, things won’t always go as planned. When something that was unplanned happens, we may need to exercise our leadership skills and help direct the circumstances. There will be other times that things happen and we just need to learn to roll with them.

Finally, as is the case with every speech that we will ever give when it’s live, the show must always go on. When distractions and glitches happen off-camera, we need to keep the audience focused on the message and not the hiccups. The great part of this is that more often than not, anything that we are aware of that we would consider to be a glitch our audience will probably never be aware of.

What All Of This Means For You

Not all of the speeches that we give are the same. There will be times that we are talking to small almost intimate audiences. There will then be the times when we have been asked to talk to much larger audience. The way that we give our presentations will also often be different. In these modern times, we will sometimes be asked to give video presentations. When we are asked to give a video presentation to a large audience, we need to understand that this is a special circumstance that requires unique preparation.

The first thing that we need to realize when we are speaking to a large audience via a video link, is that just like always we need to take the time to practice our speech. We need to understand that things can go wrong and things can get changed on us so we need to prepare for this to happen. You may be able to use your laptop and your mobile phone to help you deliver your speech. Key lessons that we need to use to deliver a successful speech include that body language and vocal variety are important. Things may not go as we had planned them and so we may have to adjust. Finally, when we are live there is no going back.

The good news is that making video presentations to large audiences is possible. We just need to understand that this is a unique situation and because of that it requires us to prepare for this kind of speech in a unique way. Take the time to do all of the things that you have to do and your next video speech to a large audience will be a success!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What can you do before a video speech to minimize the chances of a technical glitch?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ok, so clearly I’m a fan of everyone becoming a good speaker. However, the question as to why someone should invest the time in becoming a good speaker is a valid question. We all have a lot of demands on our time and taking the time to polish our speaking skills will use up some of this time – is it really worth it? I think that the answer is “yes”. The reason is because you never know when you’ll be called on to give a speech. A speech does not always show up with you taking the stage and addressing an audience. It can take on many different forms.