I Was a Virtual World Speaker

This update comes a little on the late side, but I figure it’s still important enough to share!

I gave my very first presentation in the MPI NENY Virtual World (The Easy Button) in November, where I shared tips on how to run a smooth and successful event.  Now, I’m not the world’s greatest public speaker. I get butterflies, talk too fast, and I am pretty sure gibberish becomes my native language.  On the other hand, social media comes naturally to me; I enjoy interacting with online communities.  I blog, chat and tweet; I have a Facebook and a LinkedIn account.  I thought presenting in the Virtual World wouldn’t be too hard.

Like any F2F (face to face) event, there were technology issues. It was a speaker’s nightmare when my power point presentation with a YouTube video would not load properly.  Thankfully, with the help of savvy tech support, it was corrected in time.

My power point presentation wasn’t the only technical setback.

  • Attendees needed extra time to become oriented and customize their avatars, which consequently caused the presentation to begin later than expected.
  • There were several headset and microphone issues. Some people could hear us, but not speak. Some could speak, but not hear us. The worst issue to arise was that some participants couldn’t interact at all and subsequently logged out entirely.

So here I am, standing on a virtual stage in front of a small group of avatars.  I begin my speech, which opens with a funny YouTube video.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell if anyone is laughing or groaning.  I continue on.  I talk with my hands to my computer screen, I laugh at my own jokes.  I’m probably talking too fast, but I can’t see the audience’s reaction to what I’m saying.  Ten minutes later I come to the end of my presentation and ask if there are any questions.

Bueller? Bueller?

It has been said that a virtual audience is limited to your voice and your slides so you must make an impact with both, and this is no different from an in-person delivery.  That statement may true, but speaking from my own experience, I was unable to tell if an impact was being made at all, as the audience’s reactions were missing.  I couldn’t see them.

You might be asking yourself, then why even hold a virtual world event?  What is the point?  I still believe the virtual world is a viable solution to those who cannot attend a F2F event.  Offering a virtual platform for professionals to attend large events such as MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC), or small meetings, such as an MPI local chapter board or committee meeting, allows professionals to participate and stay in touch, even if they can’t be there in person.  It is a tool, albeit not a perfect one, that gives us one more way to meet, to learn, and to communicate ideas.

As public speakers, we also need to adapt to the Virtual World environment. Speaking to your computer screen instead of an audience you can see and hear – well that’s a big learning curve for anyone. You have to readjust your expectations and presentation style.

I firmly believe that virtual events won’t replace F2F events, but as technology continues to grow, virtual events can only continue to become a more viable solution.

About the MPI NENY Virtual World

MPI Northeastern New York has a Virtual World.  If you haven’t seen it, visit the website at http://www.mpineny.org for more information. In 2008, the MPI NENY Chapter launched this cutting edge technology initiative to benefit both planners and suppliers and grow chapter membership. It was the first MPI chapter to offer this unique web-based program. Virtual participants can attend events, network and explore member products, all from the comfort of their office (or sofa). Our main objective is to offer an environment where chapter leaders and industry colleagues from all over the world can connect with others without having to travel.

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