The Keys to Becoming A Better, More Dynamic Virtual Speaker: Andrew Churchill


As B2B and SaaS companies scramble to leverage virtual events, many people are looking to become better and more engaging virtual speakers.

These are people who thrive at in-person events but now they have to present digitally. There's no stage and no audience sitting in front of them.

Now, that's a huge challenge.

Andrew Churchill has seen his consulting business explode as more people look to become better, more dynamic virtual speakers.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Andrew talks about the tricks and techniques that speakers need to deploy to keep people focused, interested, and interacting.

One good piece of advice is to stand up when presenting virtually rather than sitting down. It's simple but, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense.


You're listening to market park, thepodcast that delivers insight tools and tips, a marketers and entrepen thetrenches in twenty minutes or less it's one thing for companies to embracevirtual events, but what about the people who need to make presentations?What's it like to talk into a camera versus in on stage and being able toengage with an audience and see how people are responding in this episodeon talking with Andrew Churchill, a pitch and presentation, coach, Andrewhouseplots on eter content and visual development, as well as voice boylanguage and other engagement strategies, depending on how you lookat it Andrew was facing a big business opportunity or a big business challenge,and that's what we're going to get into today. Welcome to market Y Spark Andrew.Thank you it's great to be here. Let's talk about what you do and, moreimportantly, how your business has been impacted by Ovid and the lack ofIMPERSONA events yeah. So it's interesting with Ovid. IApologize Sometimes for saying this because I know it hasn't been true foreveryone, but my business is actually exploded. I think the key to the key tothe explosion is that people are no longer we've removed the emotional barrier to asking for help.So I used to be that people present it in person. Everybody thinks they're agood presenter people, don't really think they need help. It's kind of coolto be good at this. We all have that secret. Like Oh yeah, I could do a Tedtalk and what's happened when we moved online and now we're working with videocameras. Is Everybody says? Oh, my God, I have no idea. What's going on help,so it's opened up. It's opened up a whole new group of people. It's it'sgiven people permission to ask for help. So what you're saying is that peoplewho may have been comfortable speaking in person are uncomfortable speakingvirtually, but they still want to present, but they want to do it in theright way. They want to do it in ways that are engaging and they're coming toyou for help, which is it's really interesting to hear that point of viewthat you are busy you a person who focuses in helping people makepresentations. Mostly in public are busy during coved. I I find thatfascinating yeah. It's been good news for me, the alot of my work is done through the university at Mc Gill, so some of itand the presentation world is still going on there. Interestingly enough alot of the a lot of the presentation work I do there has actually increasedbecause it's the one event that can keep going right. So it's away to actually so so doing, virtual conferences and and virtual eventsvirtual talks with each other is one of the places wecan still create community because we can't travel. So I think the the demand actually for online interaction. The demand forinteraction has gone up because we're not interacting with eachother walking down the street sitting in our offices sitting. So we're allthirsty for interaction, and it's just a matter of trying to figure out waysto meet that need. I want to get into how people canengage your audiences virtually and drive interaction, but before we getinto that, I'm really curious about your thoughts on virtual events. Thishas been a topic that I have been focused on. Maybe you could sayobsessed with recently, because most virtual events that I register for andactually attend are pretty awful. I feel like a Weber. It feels likesomeone is broadcasting to me versus creating an environment where it'sinteractive, I feel engaged I feel like there's a sense of maybe theirspontaneity. Maybe there's this there's a there's, a certain dipity, the theopportunity to learn and meet New People. I'm not not getting that at alland I'm just curious about what your...

...view is on virtual events, given you'vegot a completely different perspective, so I'm so I have a new paradigm thatactually I haven't shared with anyone yet so this will be good I'll, beinterested to see how you react to this and see if it starts to resonate withyou mark and that and the paradigm is this: Whenwe go to a conference, there are two things going on: one is thedissemination of information. So if we go to a conference and we sit in a, wesit in a presentation for ten minutes- fifteen minutes half an hour. Howeverlong the person was allowed to talk, that's a that's a dissemination moment,but there's another piece of conferences and and just before weleave the dissemination moment that actually works really well online. Theonline space is actually really good for disseminating information. Theother piece, though, is the communal piece, and that doesn't happen when we'resitting listening to someone that Happensi when we're getting a cup ofcoffee between talks, or that happens when weintroduce ourselves to the person next to us before our talk starts and thatspace has been completely eliminated in the virtual conference world, and Idon't think people have figured out how to replicate it and I'm frankly, I'mnot even sure it's possible. That's an interesting perspectivebecause to me that's the conference cool like when I go to conferences tobe honest with you, I could be. I could easily be on stage. I don't mean thatin a boastful way, it just means that the information that I'm getting frommost speakers- I already know- I'm really not there for the content,although some of it can be interesting. What I'm there for is the people I'mthere for the opportunity to bump into someone unexpectedly or to meetcompletely new people and open up completely new opportunities. That'sthe value for me and I think, you're right. I think a lot of conferences arestruggling with that. I look at a platform like hoppin which allowspeople to hold these. It's almost like speed dating so you're on a virtualevent and then they'll have the speed dating opportunity. Will you meetsomebody random in a side room which I think tries to replicate thatconference experience, but you're right? I just don't know if anyone's going tofigure it out going to be able to replicate that whole conferenceexperience. My question is the fundamentally I, but I have a questionabout whether or not so so, a lot of talks going on about synchronises, asynchronistic think it's really difficult to do. Synchronous, multipeople conversations online, virtually there's a there's, afundamental barrier of technology that people haven't really figured out yetof how do we have like there's a reason we're doing a podcast with two people?Not Seven right can't do it in seven people, but if we were in person wecould- and this is a this- is a real challenge. I think one of the thingsthat conferences need to figure out is how do they create space for people tointeract organically and then how do they create space forto disseminate information, and I think, what's happening with conferences rightnow. Is there just hyper focused on the dissemination of information andthey're getting that fine, but without the organic interaction it's useless. Nobody wants to go it's a horribleexperience, so what we need to do is figure out how to do this organic inerection, and I'm not sure you know to me my best. Organic interaction in thelast six months has been in the last sixty days and it's all been on linkedin and it's all been a synchronise, but you and I have you and I have hadconversations on linked in and sometimes there's four hours, sometimes there's threedays between those responses, but we've gotten to know each other. We'vedeveloped a relationship. We've got to...

...know each other's businesses. We've nowended up having a conversation virtually with the two of us in theform of this podcast, but I do think that there's some a synchronouscomponents that virtual conferences ought to be looking at and integratingthings like volley, that's coming out with like a and linked in just started right. Wherenow you can send people a short, a short audio clip. What do you think?It's a new landscape, it's a completely new engagement landscape and we're alltrying to figure it out, and I think that's one of the interesting thingsabout link din. That is happening right now. People are having makingconnections they're commenting, there's all that activity going on, and I stillbelieve that the real value of link in his conversations is the ability tobreak through the digital barrier and ask someone if they're open to having aconversation, and my experience has been for the most part that you'reright. As you said earlier, people are thirsty for interaction, they're,thirsty for conversations, they're thirsty to connect with their people,and so those barriers have totally disappeared and I'm talking to peopleall around the world and the conversation. People are enthusiastic,they're interested they're curious, and this is something that I don't thinkwould have happened. Pre coved now, let's turn our sex a little bit to whatyou do and how you are helping people do a better job presenting virtually.So when I do presentations like I'm a very energetic speaker and I movearound the audience- and I ask question and people that's part of my stickright, but how do people engage audiencesdigitally when you're just looking at their face? What are some of thetechniques that they can use to get the audience excited curious, interestedall the good things that happen when you present in person. So this is another one where I'm I'mcoming up a little get against a paradigm wall here and I'm starting tothink about this word engagement and and what does it actually mean becauseit traditionally engagement has been about Speaker Audience, interaction right, sothere's some things you can do, there's some really good tools for increasingthat online. Some of the things I do like I will use poles quite a bitbecause it's really easy to get everybody in the audience to answer apull, and I don't ask trick questions. But I answer I ask questions. I tend toask questions that every answer is correct and then I ask someone who gave you know. I asked someone who saidsee which maybe only ten per cent of the people answered, see. I say: okay,someone who said see. Will you tell us why you said that? Because I thinkthat's really smart and it would be great if everyone could hear from youand I always get someone who pipes in in those situations. So I haven'tcalled on someone specifically, but I have gotten some audience: Interactionthat that is more curate, so I think the key to the key to audienceinteraction when you're in the when you're in the online spaces to curateit. In other words, you got it, you got to set it up more than more than whenyou're in person the some of the other things you can doso so I do simultaneous simultaneous responses to a chatquestion. If you've never done that, it's super interesting. We do, as youask a chat question, and then you give the audience thirty seconds to type intheir answer and then everybody hits to enter at the same time and there's this there's this weirdeverybody feels like they need to do it so people, so so people actually do itlike I get response where it's upwards, a ninety percent. When I do this andthen suddenly of a as a speaker, you have this incredibly rich. So you havetwenty people, Thirty people, you have twenty or thirty comments. You can thenbuild the next ten minutes of your presentation, responding to the onesthat that you want to so so those are...

...two tricks in the traditional engagement space, but I said I was running into a littlebit of a paradones here and he the Paradin shift here, is that what happens? If engagement isn'treally audience at what happens? If we made an Ingatius not about speakeraudience but about audience content, which is really what we want to engage our audience with right, wewant our engage to our audience with the content, not with us, and thatshift to me so so I started just thinking about this question. I wasactually thinking about this morning because you had asked me this questiona couple days ago, right as we were getting ready to a D- And I was givingthis some thought and in that case, so if I want people to better engage withthe content, then I fall back to stories because stories engaged people and Ifall back to really powerful visuals. Like you show, you show someone areally powerful visual that triggers an emotional response and that engages the person, but those are two different ways tothink about engagement. I think, okay, I've got a bunch of falloffquestions. One would be, of course we would be okay from a technicalperspective, like you mentioned earlier, that you would give people options abrC and the person who you would ask someone who answered see to respond, sois that mean that you've got they can there's an open Mike? They have theability to hype up when they want verbally, or do you have to open up a differentchannel when you want that to happen. Most of my work, I do with open mikesor I do with a with A. I can give them permission, so somebody can raise their hand andthen I can UN mute their muck. The other question that I had when youtalked about the thirty second go and do your own thingtechnique? How do you feel about silence, and the reason I ask is thatwhen I've done workshops, what I do is I'll give some good people an exerciseand I'll say: okay, spend the next five minutes working on this exercise andthen we'll have a group. You present any more of a group discussion andpeople love that they love the ability to do their own work or work with asmall group and then present and learn from other techniquesand get other approaches and get that feedback from other people in the room.Now is it possible? Does it make sense to do that online? So, let's say thatwe're doing a presentation and we have a little worksheet that we want someoneto fill out. Can we say okay for the next five minutes, do your own thing and then we'll circleback. Is that does that work at all? I do it all the time I do it real, and soI use zoom ass kind of the go to because that's what what McGill usesand we and they have breakout rooms. So I send people, I send people with anexercise where, with a exercise to do with each other in a breakout room, I think zoom works really well withwith groups of five and less so that's kind of my cap on rooms, as I putpeople in rooms of five and they work, and when I do do individual exercises,I actually put everybody in their own break out room because it's kind ofweird being on zoom when everybody's quiet, but if you send everybody to their ownbreakout room, then it's it's the feedback. I'vegotten for people is less it's less weird, because then they're they're ina room by themselves, working quietly and it's not like Oh yeah people cansee me now or people can hear me if I mistakenly put my Mike on or peopleit's kind of this, Oh yeah, now I can go work and then I come back...

...and there's that moment of coming backbecause you shut down the breakout room and everybody comes in all togetherright. The other thing that is interesting, I think working online isworking with stuff, like Google docks or one drive where you have a shareddocument, and everybody can be working on the same document at the same timewere different parts of the same document at the same time, and then youcan combine the two where you send people to a breakout room. They work intheir breakout room on a document that shared with the other breakout rooms.So you can have a conversation of four or five people going on about a shareddocument that forty people are working on. Yeah because I mean, if you have acommon tentat and everyone's filling it out, then that would work but you're,suggesting that it would only work in small groups as opposed to having fiftypeople completing an exercise on zoom. Fifty people can be completing anexercise, but fifty people can't be in the same room talking about it. One more question I want to ask youabout this whole concept of engagement is that how do you keep people on pointwhen they're at home and it's easy to be Mulita checking their email surfingthe web doing work all the things that they probably shouldn't do, because the reason they're audiveram event isto attend the virtual event. Are there any tools, techniques, anything thatyou can do to make sure that people don't do that or is that come down tothe quality of the content? I think it comes down to the quality of thecontent of the quality of the Presentin and there's and there's one trick. Youcan do so. The quality of the Co there's alittle bit of an online shift with the quality of the presenter. The qualityof the presenter online is all about voice, there's so little a video withwith most of the presentations, because most of the presentation work there's avisual support right. So you're, looking at something like power point,is different. If you're doing a ten talk where the primary visual is theperson, but as soon as the primary person is the is the visual beingshared, not the person, then it's all about voice and and the biggest mistake people makepresenting online is they're sitting in their chair at their desk and it's justa disaster. It's like you'd never be sitting in a chair, giving a talk. Whyare you sitting in a chair when you're when you're presenting it's steward? Sowhat does you instead stand up? I'm standing right now were our voice isbetter when, when we're standing and when we're gesturing. So even thoughI'm not on camera, I'm still gesturing, I'm walking around I'm standing up. I like to have two different. I havetwo different places because I do a lot of presenting because all all myteaching is online and all my teaching is presenting our workshops, so Iactually have one corner of the room where I have a bureau. That's like oneof those six drawer bureau. So it's really high. It's chest. Eight I've aset up there for presenting with a green screen. It doesn't take up hardly any rode,because the green screens only a foot behind me and I'm standing right nextto the bureau and then on the other side of the room.I have my desk. I work for my desk, but when I go to present, I go stand up andI'm in a different place and psychologically it's like going to workright. If you were going to a conference to present or if you weregoing to an auditorium to present, you enter the auditorium. I have a littlehole in the green screen at the end and I entered the presentation space. So I have I have that mental switchthat people aren't doing because they're sitting at their deskpresenting from their desk yeah. I love the idea of jester byyourself in a room because it feels like I don't know it feels like. I knowsinging at the top of your lungs in the shower right, because you feel likeyour performin, but no one can know. O, I can see is, if seems kind of weird,but I guess in time you get used to it in the and, if you think about thevirtual reality, space, which is kind of what we're playing in right there'sthis there's the concept of immersion. That happens right. That's what youneed to do for your audience. You need... do the emersion piece for youraudience, so your audience feels like they're there in the room with you,even though it's on screen and that comes from voice, it comesfrom gestures, it comes, or it comes from all the same things that happen soso the people are good at presenting in person are good at presenting onlineas long as they shift as long as they do what they would be doing in personright. So as that channel that in person present or even though there'sno one there, and it feels a little silly like you're, like I'm likegesture at my wall. Okyon final question- and this isprobably a loaded question- is what are some of the mistakes that speakers makevirtually and how can people prepare themselves properly before they make avirtual presentation, so one is to stand up sitting sitting down a big mistake. There's another there's another in linein person shift, that's a that's a technical one, and that is thinkingthat our power point were our visuals that were sharing are doing the samething in the two spaces and they're, not they're, very different. So there'ssome there's some science to suggest. We only look at a still image forsomewhere between seven and fifteen seconds before we move on. So, ifyou're talking about keeping people on the image you're sharing, rather thangoing to their email right, which is also on their computer screen, thatimage needs to evolve every seven to ten seconds. There needs to be somesort of visual movement. It doesn't need to be much, but it needs to be alittle bit so right. So we do this exercise. I do this exercise withpeople called activate your power point. If you're working in power point orwhatever visual you're working in and it's just simply making it active, soyou animate it so so, and one idea comes in at a time. Instead of all theideas coming in, you use more things so that if you have four or five ideas, the idea that you're talking about getsbigger and you talk about it and then it gets smaller and then the next onegets bigger in person. You don't want to do this because in person, if yourpower point slides like our little lizard brain right when we're in personand there's movement in our peripheral vision, we want to look at it. So whenour when our power points active and we're in person, people aren't lookingat the presenter they're constantly being distracted by the slide, but online you're, not really there you're, really just there vocally and there'sand there's good research. That's actually pretty old, because it's aboutonline courses and if you, if you've, taken some online courses, you noticedthat the presenters there in the beginning and then the presenterdisappears and only comes back every once in a while, and it's because whenpeople did the eye tracking of what people were looking at with onlinecourses, they weren't looking at the present or after the first minute, orso they were looking at the material being presented and the same thing. Ifyou look at online courses and the way those visuals are developed, those arevery active power points or whatever else is being delivered, but butsuddenly so not like crazy. You know things flying in and flying out we'renot trying to make it obnoxious we're just trying to to take care of thelittle lizard brain that needs needs to see movement or is would not be stuckon stillness. Well Andrew. This has been great insight and, to be honestwith you, I feel like I got a free consulting session on how to be abetter better virtual speaker. I do a lot of it these days and you're right.There is, there is a difference between doing it in person and virtually, and Ihave tried some different approaches, but some of the things you saidparticularly around standing up and...

...changing your slides on a regular basis,really resonated an. I think, that's great advice for anybody who isvirtually doing virtual presentations or thinking about it. So where canpeople find out about you and learn more about what you do and and how doyou work with people that are looking to improve their presentation skillsboth in person and virtually so the easiest place to find mypresences on linked on that's kind of where I, where my owner businessprofile, has become so so work work beyond mcgill? I have A. I have a business that I'vestarted is called home communications, so home communications got SA is the isthe website, but I'm and I have a blog there, but the but the linked endactivity is more active than the web block, andthen I have some yuture. I have a oute channel, that's also hhomecommunications, where some of this some of the things that we've been talkingabout are on there and every once in a while. I do, like a you know, a two minute tutorial on likeactivating your power point and that's on and I'll post. Those on you tubethank for listening to another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed theconversation, leave a review and subscribe by, I tunes or your favoritepodcast APP for show notes of today's conversation and information aboutAndrew visit. Markey Spark Co blog now, if you have questions, feedback wouldlike to suggest a guest or want to learn more about how I help tobcompanies as a fractional C mo consultant and adviser, send an emailto Martin marketing spark co ill talking o.

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