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Yvonne Chan: Engaging a Virtual Audience

Virtual events are witnessing a growth in demand as the events industry adapts to new realities amidst this pandemic. Event organisers are turning to webinars, virtual conferences, and hybrid events to share their content. 

Connecting with virtual viewers, however, can be challenging even for the most seasoned speakers as the level of feedback and interaction experienced is different compared to a live event. 

Former ChannelNewsAsia news anchor Yvonne Chan, is well versed at speaking to an “invisible” audience. In our second Speaker Spotlight interview, Chan, who is now an independent emcee and media trainer, shares some practical tips on how to gain confidence, and electrify your connection with online viewers. 

1. How has COVID-19 affected the work that you do as a presenter,  host, moderator, and media trainer? How have you been adapting?  

In terms of volume of work, the number of events has certainly gone down as the industry takes a pause from COVID-19. However, as remote work and meetings all shift online, I’ve seen a growing demand for media training as many grapple with the challenges of presenting online. So I’ve taken this opportunity to move my media training sessions to an online platform. My experience as a news anchor has really helped me engage effectively with a virtual audience and I’m glad to be able to help others gain more confidence at presenting virtually. I’ve also shifted to hosting and moderating webinars and virtual panel discussions as the events industry pivots and adapts to a new normal.  

2.With virtual events becoming more widespread, what are some specific challenges that speakers face when trying to engage an online audience?  

Many face the challenge of being an engaging presenter and capturing their audience’s attention from the get go. Your online audience’s attention span is being competed for by so many offline and online distractions, so it is a real challenge to keep them engaged. Some also face the challenge of speaking to a camera for a lengthy duration, and keeping their energy levels up throughout the presentation.  

3. Could you please share some tips on how to better engage a virtual audience?  

If you’re presenting to a virtual audience, you must start strong. Set the tone and the agenda of your meeting or presentation and make sure you have a clear message to deliver. Don’t forget to move your head and hands just as you would as if you were talking to a person face to face. You will feel more natural when you do this and in turn, you will come across looking more natural too.  

Presenting on camera is like a performance. You have to up your energy level when you’re presenting across a screen and you have to come away feeling exhausted at the end of it. Virtual presentations means subtle nuances like body language are reduced so you have to make up for it with your energy level and voice projection.  

4. Do you have any confidence boosting tips for those who are not used to speaking to a camera?  

Record yourself on camera and pinpoint what you like and what you think can be improved. Keep doing that until you are comfortable with how you look and sound on camera.  

5. Technical set up for virtual presentations. What essential equipment do you recommend?  

A lapel microphone for better sound quality and some desk lights to throw some warmth onto your face. You want to make sure you are well illuminated and look rested during your presentation.  

6.What are some common pitfalls/rookie mistakes to avoid?  

Winging it. Virtual presentations require more work and practice so make sure you are well prepared for it in terms of content and delivery.  

7. What is your forecast for the events sector, for the next six to 12 months? 

I am heartened to see many industry events veterans pivoting at a challenging time like this. I foresee the industry returning to some form of normality in about six  to twelv12 months or so. In the meantime, we should be seeing more hybrid events – a combination of live and pre-recorded elements in an online ‘event’.  

Bio-brief: Yvonne Chan 

A versatile news presenter and event host, Yvonne Chan has covered many live events on the news front, and moderated several high profile panels during her nine-year tenure with ChannelNewsAsia (CNA). She was also the co-anchor of CNA’s flagship weekday breakfast programme, First Look Asia, for more than two years. 

Away from the newsroom, Chan has over 17 years of experience in hosting live events and moderating panel discussions. She has fronted many high profile panels discussing issues in intellectual property, the future economy,  health, and finance. She has often been described as a lively and intelligent host, with a knack for ad-libbing on the spot. 

For more information, or to engage Chan for your next event, please visit: https://yvonne-chan.com/ 



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