Virtual Event producers tend to get caught up in things like technology and speakers and getting attendees to sign-up…
So much so that they tend to forget about the piece that brings everything together and no it’s not the theme or the branding. Not only does this role keep a digital event on track, but it also encourages people to attend, interact, and stay engaged.
All of which are invaluable.
This video will not be a popular one amongst my keynote speaker peers but I believe the value of virtual events is dependent on the utilization of this role and re-inventing how this role is leveraged throughout the event planning process.
The NFL Virtual Draft leveraged this role to perfection which is the reason I still consider it the best virtual event I’ve attended in 2020.
Do you have an idea of which role/asset I’m referring to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments on YouTube!
If you are looking for more virtual event insights or want to transform your never virtual keynote presentation make sure to visit the Virtual Event Resources landing page which is updated weekly.
Here’s a YouTube comment that I felt summarized exactly how I felt and what inspired me to create this video!
“I don’t think I have ever been more on board with a video before this one. You are 100% spot on! Over the last few months (and even a little bit before) I have attended and spoken at online events that don’t have anything anchoring the experience, guiding us through our time together, except for that opening email and closing survey.
This past week I attended my FIRST virtual conference that had a host doing exactly what you say they should do. It changed EVERYTHING! While I still would prefer in-person events, this was the first experience where I closed my screen on the last day sad that it was over, excited about what I learned, and WHO I MET! I actually felt like I was in a community of people, gathering to learn together, to create something new, and to walk away richer in connection than when we started the event.
Thank you, Brian! Thank you! I hope many people watch this and put into motion what you are sharing with all of us.
We’ve all been to events where the panels were crazy BORING, and each answer was scripted and robotic!
Many events that I attend as a keynote speaker are fixing the “boring panel” problem by removing panels altogether.
As a full-time keynote speaker, you’d think this would be good for my business, but let’s remember many of those panelists are executive leaders from big brands with popular logos that drive ticket sales for the event. Also, I feel there’s so much to value in learning from the practitioners and leaders. Still, sadly most aren’t trained or excellent at delivering that value in a keynote solo presentation form.
Interestingly enough, as much as I love being on stage, giving one of my keynote programs, I equally love moderating a panel or hosting a fireside chat. The reason, I find great joy and satisfaction in helping others tell their stories and facilitating dynamic conversations around trends and relevant topics. Beyond moderating panels, I’ve also spent many years developing my skills for interviewing guests in person and via video while also launching over 3k live video interacting with comments in what I call live participatory content.
Moderating, Hosting & Emceeing is a SKILL that Takes Practice
Moderating requires practice and a specific skill set, and just because someone is a great speaker or great panelist or the headline sponsor of the event does not mean they’ll be a great moderator. The need for dynamic offline events will only be increasing as we become more connected and technology-dependent. Event ticket sales are often driven by the celebrity speaker and famous logos on panels. But creating an event community where the audience wants to come back year over year requires an investment in dynamic keynote speakers, passionate moderators, and event hosts that can connect the inspiration with the education and provide motivation for all who attend.
This past week I hosted and emceed The Social Shake-Up conference in Atlanta. As I was coming off stage, the AV director approached me and asked if I trained hosts or executives on how to moderate panels and conduct interviews. He stated that he felt my style was one of the most unique and dynamic he had seen in his 20+ years running AV for events.
Below, I breakdown my pre-event strategy, on-stage focus, and overall vision of success when moderating panels. I also wrote a post titled “What All Great Hosts and Moderators have” that goes into more detail on the importance of building 3-way trust!
I go in-depth on each of these in the podcast episode that you can listen to at the bottom of this blog post.
Panel topic, type of panelists, and length of the panel should be a collaboration between the event organizer and panel moderator.
Why the outreach and first interaction with the panelists must have a focused message.
Why I don’t ask for questions or provide questions to panelists
How asking for 2 and only 2 “audience takeaways” shifts the dynamic of the panel
How I deal with panelists that REQUIRE a list of questions
Where does the trust triangle start as a moderator?
How to crowdsource audience questions and event theme?
Why I take notes about a panelist’s most recent tweet, hobby, or current passion.
Combine panelist 2 takeaways with crowdsourced questions to formulate discussion flow!
Why panelist MUST have handheld microphones
Why the order and what’s on the screen matters during the panel
How to ask the same question twice without anyone noticing it
The art of reframing an answer to translate it for the audience
How to include your insights and data without injecting yourself too much as the moderator
How to handle BORING answers
How to create debate/dialogue between panelists
What a moderator must be aware of while listening to a panelists answer
What I envision as a success while on stage for me as the moderator, and it has nothing to do with the audience.
Why “if you don’t know the moderator is there” is the most significant line of crap and a great moderator is heard, but the panelists takeaways are what’s remembered.
Importance of including the event theme, trends and goal of event manager
How a lousy panelist won’t ruin a panel that doesn’t cover pre-determined questions
The art of cutting someone off or limiting their answer without being rude or playing Oscars music.
Why moderator should be compensated and great panelists sell event tickets, but a great moderated panel sells next years tickets and turns attendees into superfans.
How To Make Panels and Interviews Not Suck!
If you want more insights and examples, listen to this episode of the FOMO Fanz podcast below or in any podcasting app.