Live presentations: A checklist for speakers

Congratulations for being invited to speak at an online event! Live talks can be stressful, but they don't need to be. The key to success is to check expectations with the event organizer. We've prepared a handy checklist to give you some pointers for where to start.

10 questions to ask ahead of your talk

☑️ What video calling software are you using to bring me into the stream, and do I need to download or install anything?

☑️ How far ahead of time do you need me to be ready at the call link?

☑️ How will I get the cue that we’re about to go live, and will I be introduced or should I expect to introduce myself?

☑️ Will we run a test beforehand?

☑️ What will the structure of the session be?

☑️ How will the panel / Q&A / interview be moderated (if applicable)?

☑️ Will I be able to see any comments or questions that come in and, if so, how?

☑️ Will you need me to share my screen?

☑️ How can I reach you if I’m having connectivity issues?

☑️ What’s the contingency plan if there’s a technical mishap?

Bonus tips for smooth presentations

During the test, make sure you familiarize yourself with how the controls work, for instance if you need to mute your microphone to sneeze during the session! You’ll also want to run the audio through your headphones rather than the speakers on your computer, to reduce the risk of feedback.

We recommend doing a couple of test recordings on your own first, to make sure you’re happy with the A/V setup and quality of the output. If you’ll be delivering a straightforward talk or keynote, rather than being part of a panel or Q&A, you might also want to discuss a contingency plan with the organizer, such as having a pre-recorded version of your session available if you’re unable to deliver your talk live on the day.

If possible, on the day you should use a wired connection rather than relying on wifi. And if you’re using a laptop, connect it to the mains power so that there’s no chance of it dying mid-stream. If you’ll be sharing your stream, close down any unused apps and turn off notifications to minimize distractions. And it’s not a bad idea to have a quick glance in the mirror to make sure there isn’t anything in your teeth. (We’ve learnt that one the hard way…)

Best of luck for your talk. We hope these tips will help you avoid stress and maybe even enjoy yourself!