Issue #33

Welcome to the newsletter! I hope everyone is well as it has been trying times this last month.

I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am writing them! ๐Ÿ˜„ I try to be: (1) brief (2) ad free and (3) target to organizers, speakers, and/or attendees.

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Thank you! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

You can find this issue on the website:

Todayโ€™s Topic: Tips for speakers doing virtual events, and perhaps an insight into what conferences will be like in the next few yeas.

Five Personal Tips For Speakers Who Are Speaking At Virtual Conferences ๐ŸŽค

Here are a few things to think about if you are moving an event that WAS in-person to virtual or starting an online event in an increasing crowded virtual space:

  • Eye contact is important. Looking directly into the webcam can be difficult to remember – your eyes can drift and stay at your notes or the live video of yourself. It might be easier to put a face, small action figure, or something to look at (perhaps a sticky note with reminders) right above or next to the camera.
  • Gestures are still important, even remotely. Try to convey and emphasize points with hand gestures (these are actually more effective usually then facial expressions depending on the emotion you are trying to convey). Look at the animated GIF above of Kori Ashton. There’s no sound, but you might have guesses what she is talking about (or if not, think of how difficult it would be without the gestures).
  • Let people see more of you. In order for people to see your hand gestures and your body language (say from the mid-chest above, including your shoulders) you might want to set yourself further back from the camera. Try it out – if your voice sounds more distant then consider wearing a wireless microphone or a directional microphone rather the one in your computer.
  • Consider a plain or non-distracting background. The focus should be on you as much as possible.
  • Consider pre-recording your talk. If you have the skill set or want more control in your presentation, ask the organizers if you can pre-record your presentation to ensure best quality and your ability to focus on audience questions being asked after your talk is completed.

Can you think of any additional good tips?

What Might Conferences Be Like In The Next Couple of Years?

I recently did a small “TweetStorm” of thoughts about what conference organizers might need to think of when in-person conferences will be allowed by local authorities (and likely for the next couple of years).

This isn’t meant to be a doom-and-gloom. Physical conferences will return. Things will be different. This was more of a thought exercise. The tweet is above but I repeated it here below:

  • Face masks and sanitizer for attendees will be the new swag at conferences or at least another line item in the budget.
  • And when in-person conferences are available wondering if โ€œpacking a roomโ€ will be discouraged. Give yourself a “buffer seatโ€ by placing your bag or personal item. Before it was inconsiderate, now itโ€™s understandable or even appreciated.
  • For a while perhaps organizers would have to plan for PLENTY of room for attendees for a physical space. Literally cut your attendance limit by half for the same space.
  • Conference food: Everything would need to be wrapped (bagels in plastic wrap) or boxed (lunches). Even a stack of empty coffee cups would be problematic (bring your own mug/bottle). Buffets (popular at after parties) wouldnโ€™t be a social norm for quite some time.
  • For a while even if an in-person event is โ€œsafeโ€ having it live streamed will still need to be more important than ever for accessibility reasons (elderly or autoimmune would still prefer watching online most likely and they wouldnโ€™t be able to ask questions/interact otherwise)?
  • A single conference in a physical location might not be the norm for a while, even if you add an interactive livestream. โ€œviewing partiesโ€ for those who want to be around people โ€œbut not a lot of peopleโ€ (meetup level) might be more common. Maybe.
  • Portable hand wiping or washing stations might be just as accepted in large in-person conferences as charging stations. Certainly a ton more sensitization dispensers everywhere (avoid restrooms unless you have to).

Let me know if you agree or disagree, or any additional thoughts that might come up.

Misc. Stuff ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

These tips were written and/or gathered by David Bisset, someone who’s been helping organizing conferences (such as WordCamp Miami, but others too) and meetups for over a decade. He’s still learning so share any of your tips and it might be included in a future newsletter.