Increase attendance with these virtual event email templates.
Whether hosting or just attending, a virtual event is a fantastic opportunity to engage with an expert and learn about their experience and insight. For a host, it’s also a great chance to promote your own skills as a speaker and presenter.
To get the most from your guest and event – and to place yourself in the best possible light – you need to carry out careful research and develop a body of thoughtful questions.
So what questions to ask your guest speaker for an entertaining, enlightening discussion? What topics should you avoid? And what other tips or tricks will help ensure a successful virtual event?
To find out this and more, read on.
Access these 6 email templates to drive attendance to your virtual events.
The better you know your guest, the better you’ll craft original, relevant questions that will give real value to your viewing audience – and we discuss more on the value of good guest research below.
But even with limited knowledge of your guest’s background or expertise, you can still get your guest talking at length with open questions that consider their struggles, skills, and hopes.
Many of our most meaningful concerns are in fact universal issues, so use your own experiences to help you formulate thoughtful questions, and wherever possible put yourself in your guest’s shoes to consider what obstacles they’ve faced – you may find that you’ve come up against similar challenges yourself.
During your webinar and as your discussion progresses, listen carefully and respond naturally to what they’ve said. Of course, remaining natural and spontaneous isn’t always easy when you have an audience, but with a prepared list of questions, you’ll have lots of good ideas to draw from.
A wealth of fantastic questions is vital to having a successful conversation with your guest speaker during your marketing event, but even more important is the background preparation that will allow you to best tap into their concerns, passions, and challenges.
So wherever possible, read what your guest has written, listen to what they’ve said, and study what they’ve accomplished. Their LinkedIn profile will be a great place to start to find links to published work and interviews – or you can simply send them a friendly email and ask them to point you in the right direction.
With a strong understanding of your guest’s professional journey, you’ll be in a good position to guide the conversation through the most interesting and relevant areas of discussion.
Before that, though, get off to a positive start with some friendly icebreakers.
Access these 6 email templates to drive attendance to your virtual events.
You’ll want your guest speaker relaxed and forthcoming, which is why a good icebreaker question can be so important to set the tone of your webinar presentation.
One good way to put your guest at ease is to find some common ground. This could be a light chat about where you’re from or where you’ve lived, it could be a story about your family, or it might be a shared interest or hobby.
Getting your guest talking about something lighthearted and personal can be a great springboard for further conversation, but the real value here is in getting everyone – so you, your guest speaker, and the audience – settled in and engaged.
So be expressive when showing your interest, and responsive to what your guest says – remember, no matter how many people are viewing, you are your guest's most important audience member.
Note: these questions will give you some great ideas, but you’ll want to adapt many of them for the specifics of your guest’s experience, which we discuss further below.
Once you’ve got the ball rolling with a few icebreakers or areas of common ground, you can start probing more deeply into your guest’s experience.
If you can, find a surprising or curious fact about their work or past – maybe an early success or hurdle – and see if you can home in on this to glean something substantial and unique from your conversation.
The best follow-up questions help the conversation flow naturally while bringing further insight for the audience. But a great way to get even more value out of your discussion is to involve the audience – and one way you can do this is with question upvotes.
On Livestorm you can invite audience members to add their own questions to the Questions Tab and ask your guest whichever ones get the most votes.
A few fun questions can come in useful to break things up or to end your talk on a fun, lighthearted note. You could also use multimedia – such as a short video, gif, or image – to provoke a response or laugh.
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Now you’ve got a strong body of questions to work with, you can use your interview research to really get the most out of them. Let’s look at some examples of how you can adapt questions to a specific guest.
For our example adapted questions, we’ll imagine your guest speaker is Jenny Stewart, a CEO from the world of EdTech, who’s founded and grown a website providing online lesson resources for teachers.
|How do you see the industry evolving over the next five years?
||Obviously, we’ve seen a huge amount of growth in online business especially over the last couple of years. You’ve already talked about how that’s affected EdTech to date, but how do you see it evolving further over the next few years?
|What are the biggest misconceptions about your work?
||You mentioned that as a CEO, people always seem to assume you have all the answers or that you’re an expert in every field. What other misconceptions do you think people have about what you do?
|What makes your job exciting?
||I think we can all tell you love your job, Jenny, so let’s get into that a bit more – what makes building a website for teachers so exciting? Where does that passion come from?
|What mistakes did you make then that you wouldn’t now?
||What you said Jenny about being naive seems very understandable for someone starting out. Were there any specific lessons you learned – what mistakes wouldn’t you make now, or what would you know to avoid?
|What other factors made a difference to your choices?
||So having a pool of expert teachers was crucial to building the resources, but what influenced your choices on which resources to create, or how to develop the platform?
|Would you make the same decision again?
||Even though your decision there was clearly a good one, would you make that same choice now? Has your decision-making process changed since then?
There are no concrete rules on what not to do or ask during a virtual event, though it’s usually best to avoid religion and politics, and tread carefully when it comes to potentially personal or sensitive subjects.
To be sure you’re on safe ground, you could ask your guest before the event starts if there are any areas of discussion they’d rather avoid.
During the event, don’t feel you have to urgently fill any pauses with your own thoughts or further questions – give your speaker the chance to think and reflect before giving you a response.
Also, don’t forget the success of any virtual event depends on engaging your audience, so while your speaker can do a great job of that themselves, encourage audience participation wherever possible.
We’ve already mentioned using question upvotes to involve event viewers and that multimedia shares are a great way to encourage video engagement – you can also use polls to get the audience in on a discussion to see how much they agree or disagree with your guest on a subject.
Also, ask your audience to use reaction emojis throughout a real-time conversation. By being careful about sensitive subject matter, and looking for opportunities to engage your audience throughout the event, you’ll keep the webinar topics relevant and enjoyable.
Your goal with a guest speaker should be a relevant, engaging, and unique conversation. So the importance of careful guest research and interview preparation can’t be overstated.
Where possible, delve into their professional history and see if you have any shared experiences you could touch on – you might uncover a surprising fact or opinion that’s the starting point for your entire discussion.
Then, once your guest begins to open up and dive into their experience, be an attentive listener, unafraid to challenge them on their ideas if it’s appropriate to do so.
With thorough research, great questions, and audience participation by way of reaction emojis, polls, and question upvotes, you can be sure of a successful, engaging virtual event.
Ask your guest speaker open questions about their career choices, the hurdles they overcame, and their plans for the future. You can also ask fun questions as icebreakers or to break up the conversation. Always listen carefully to your guest speaker, and ask follow-up questions that delve deeper into subjects they’ve raised.
Most successful people have had to work hard and negotiate struggles or failure, so ask them questions about those challenges, what key moments made a difference to their fortunes, and what advice they’d give to their younger selves.
Build a network of contacts through work, forums, and social media – especially LinkedIn, where many professionals are also looking to grow their contacts and find partnership marketing opportunities.
When you identify a subject you’d like to discuss, search out specialists within those networks, and consider podcast hosts, influencers, and friends of friends. The best guests are experienced speakers, so also work out your budget and schedules before making contact with a potential guest.