Virtual vs. In-Person Speaking
“In the past, before phones and the Internet, all communication was face-to-face. Now, most of it is digital, via emails and messaging services. If people were to start using virtual reality, it would almost come full circle.”– Palmer Lucky, American entrepreneur
In-person speaking, of course, has been around since prehistoric times. The ability to influence audiences has been a goal of humankind since we appeared on this earth.
However, the ability to connect with others virtually through your computer coupled with the Internet is a very recent phenomenon.
The ability to connect virtually through video teleconferencing has existed since the 1970s. However, the typical person’s ability to connect virtually with others in their home or other places has had a relatively short life.
Widespread use of virtual speaking only appeared during the COVID-19 pandemic when everyone was holed up in their house, yearning for connection with the outside world.
You will not always have the choice of whether to speak virtually or in-person. In this case, it is crucial to know the considerations of either method of speaking. This article attempts to do this.
Audience Engagement and Interaction
Audience engagement and interaction are essential to getting your message into the minds of your audience. Below is a comparison of virtual vs. in-person speaking in this area.
Virtual presentations can sometimes lack the same level of audience engagement and interaction as in-person events.
Reading the room, gauging audience reactions, and building a personal connection with attendees through a screen can be more challenging. You might be limited to reading non-verbal cues, measuring audience reactions, or building a personal connection.
However, technology tools like chat, polls, and Q&A sessions can help foster interaction in virtual settings.
In-person events often offer more significant opportunities for direct engagement and interaction with the audience. You can see and respond to the audience’s body language and facial expressions, use physical props or demonstrations, and engage in real-time conversations before and after your presentation.
You can see and react to non-verbal cues, use physical props or demonstrations, and engage in face-to-face conversations before and after the presentation. The energy of a live audience can also enhance the speaking experience.
So, audience engagement and interaction are vital considerations whether you speak virtually or in-person.
It is also essential to think about the different technical considerations of virtual and in-person speaking and how they affect getting your message into the minds of your audience.
Below is a comparison of what to consider technically for virtual vs. in-person speaking.
Virtual presentations require a stable internet connection, suitable hardware (e.g., a computer with a webcam and microphone), and familiarity with virtual meeting or webinar platforms.
Technical glitches, such as connectivity issues or software crashes, can disrupt your presentation, so technical preparedness is crucial.
In-person events generally rely less on technology, but you must consider audio-visual equipment and presentation aids (e.g., projectors and microphones).
Although technical issues can still occur during in-person speaking, they are often more manageable. They typically have a different set of solutions compared to virtual speaking.
Proper equipment setup and testing are still essential to ensure a smooth presentation.
So, audience engagement/interaction and technical considerations are essential whether you speak virtually or in-person.
Audience Reach and Logistics
Audience reach and logistics should also be considered whether you speak in-person or virtually. Below is a comparison of virtual vs. in-person speaking in this area.
Virtual presentations can reach a broader and more geographically diverse audience since attendees can join from anywhere with an Internet connection.
This can be advantageous for global outreach. Also, organizing virtual events may require less logistical effort, making it easier to plan and execute, but it may lack the in-person experience.
In-person events are limited to a specific physical location, restricting your audience to those who can attend in-person.
Organizing in-person events involves more logistical work, including securing a venue, arranging catering, and potentially managing travel and accommodations for speakers and attendees. However, it provides a unique opportunity for face-to-face interaction and engagement.
Your choice of whether to speak virtually or in-person should include the following considerations: (1) audience engagement and interaction, (2) technology used, and (3) audience reach and logistics.
Ultimately, your choice between virtual and in-person speaking should be guided by your goals, the nature of your content, your target audience, and practical considerations.
Some speakers may find that virtual speaking suits their needs better for certain situations, while others may prefer the in-person experience.
Hybrid approaches, combining virtual and in-person engagement elements, are also becoming increasingly popular, allowing speakers to reach a wider audience while maintaining some level of in-person interaction.
The choice of virtual or in-person speaking is yours. Choose wisely!
Call to Action
Given your choice of in-person or virtual presentation, consider the following:
Audience engagement and interaction
Audience reach and logistics
“My journey with Zoom began with a desire for independence to build something that would make users happy, a true video first unified communications platform.”– Eric Yuan, Chinese-American billionaire businessman, engineer, and the chief executive officer and founder of Zoom Video Communications
Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. He was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster because of his outstanding work in public speaking and leadership.
Frank formed DiBartolomeo Consulting International (DCI), LLC (www.speakleadandsucceed.com) in 2007. The mission of DCI is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence their colleagues and other technical professionals by improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Reach Frank at email@example.com and (703) 509-4424.
Don’t miss Frank DiBartolomeo’s latest book!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”