We hear your pain, garden speakers! Just when you felt like you had your live presentation down, along comes a global pandemic to shake things up. Now we’re talking about virtual presentations on platforms like Zoom — and while this can be momentarily disconcerting, let’s view this as just another way to increase your visibility and revenue as a speaker! And although there are considerations that apply to both live and virtual presentations, online garden talks require a different set of tools to be successful. We’ve included our top 5 here.
An Upgraded Zoom account.
A basic Zoom account is free, and while we love free, it’s also limited to 40 minutes. Now we don’t know about you, but we cannot remember when we last attended a garden talk that was only 40 minutes long with no time for a Q & A — and your free Zoom account will simply cut you off at the 40-minute mark. Upgrade to the Pro account so you can record your own presentations and stay on for up to 30 hours. (Although if you do a 30-hour garden talk, we want to know about it.)
Reliable WIFI or Internet connection.
We can’t stress this one enough — it’s simply vital to have a strong and reliable Internet connection! Without it, you’re toast, and you’ll regularly experience inconveniences like poor audio, frozen screens, and worst of all, dropped connections. The Zoom Help Center has some great tips on how to strengthen your connection so your online garden talks go off without a hitch.
Once your WIFI connection is rocking and rolling, you’ll want to pay attention to the lighting in the room where you’re set up. Ever presented at a live venue that had terrible lighting? Don’t make that same mistake with your virtual talks! Invest in a quality ring light or face a window with natural light coming in, and experiment with overhead lights (it might actually look a lot better without an overhead light to cast shadows on your face).
Far from being a “superficial” consideration, poor lighting can make a speaker look ill, bedraggled, tired, or older than they are. And while we love a good experienced face, nobody wants their audience members or attendees to be concerned for their speaker’s welfare just because of poor lighting.
A good background.
So you’ve got an upgraded Zoom account, strong WIFI, and great lighting. You’re done, right? Nope! Consider the background behind you, which can make or break your image as a professional. Your entire room doesn’t need to be pristine, just what the viewer sees behind you. Remove all the clutter, tidy everything up, add a plant or two (it’s a garden talk, after all), and if all else fails, go for faux. Use a virtual background (check out the little ^ arrow next to the Stop Video and choose “Virtual Background”) or invest in a good quality vinyl roll-down backdrop and simply unroll it behind you when you need it.
Pro Tip: Be aware of your computer’s camera angle relative to your face — you’ll want to position it slightly above your face rather than below it. It only takes a few books under your computer so people aren’t looking into your nose.
Email newsletter list.
Yes, this is a tool and yes, you absolutely need one! This is quite literally the only way to keep track of your audience and grow your following, which then grows your revenue. Use an email marketing service like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, AWeber, or Constant Contact. If you’re just starting out, Mailchimp has a free plan that will get the job done, but as your list grows and your requirements expand, you’ll want to consider other paid services.
Once you set up your account, create a simple landing page where your attendees can follow the breadcrumbs and sign up to be on your newsletter list. Grab that link and use it in the Chat feature in Zoom, in your email signature, and on social media.
Pro Tip: Know you need an email list but setting it all up is making your head spin? Let us do the set up for you (book a free 15-minute discovery call), then you simply create your sparkling content. Like you do.