With celebrations going virtual, people are flocking to Zoom and livestream to broadcast events to family and friends. Special occasions of all shapes and sizes are being televised just like your favorite shows. Just last month, my family room looked like a television set as we conducted my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah over Zoom, creating an intimate-feeling experience for our 200+ guests.
When it’s speech-time, I would argue that there’s even more on the line delivering a virtual speech than in-person one. This is mainly because there aren’t as many built-in distractions that you’d typically experience at a wedding or other celebratory event, so all eyes are on the speaker. And because this is usually a prime opportunity to personalize the overall event, you want to make sure that your guests stay engaged throughout the entire speech. To do so, keep these five tips in mind:
1. Select an appealing background
Pick a background that is visually appealing and not overly distracting. As a general rule, try to stay away from windows as they can reflect poorly or put you in the shadows. A large sign with a simple graphic or logo, a blank wall, or even an interesting shower curtain can provide a camera-friendly backdrop.
2. Think about lighting and sound
It’s critical to use adequate lighting. The ideal is to have lighting from three sides—one above and two that are more to the front and side. Lighting can truly make an enormous difference in how you look on camera. In addition, don’t forget about sound quality. Your computer microphone may be sufficient, but a standing microphone can help enhance the sound even further.
3. Make eye contact
While you’re speaking, it’s just as important to make eye contact with your guests as it is with in-person events. The problem with Zoom speeches, though, is that you often end up looking at your own video or at the video of your guests. To make eye contact online, practice look directly at your camera for maximum impact. If you’re toasting someone in the same room, have that person stand beside you and switch your eye contact between the guest of honor and the people watching from home.
4. Stand up
Just as you would do in a live setting, deliver your speech standing up, even if the bride and groom are on another computer screen. Place your camera at eye level and try to frame your shot from the waist up so you can make a more intimate connection.
5. Don’t overstay your welcome
Even over Zoom, it’s important to make your speech short and sweet. Just as with live celebrations, you only have the attention of the audience for about 3-5 minutes before they start getting antsy. Once your speech or toast is written, practice it aloud while timing yourself. If you’re going over the time limit, it’s time make some cuts before going live.
While the rules of speechgiving are similar for virtual and in-person occasions, there are some subtle differences. Focusing a bit more on the technical elements and connectivity with your audience can go a long way in helping you and your words shine on camera.