We’ve talked about fireside chats on our blog before, but today we’re taking things to the next level. Now, we’re sharing our top strategies to make your next fireside chat your best yet.
Before we start, let’s do a quick recap of what a fireside chat is and how they work.
A fireside chat is a dialogue between a speaker and a moderator.
Now let’s answer the second question, which was “WHY?”.
Compared to the other traditional presentations, the format of a fireside chat is informal, yet structured. A moderator focuses on adding a casual tone to the conversation while providing massive value to the audience. You get a detailed understanding of someone’s character and being.
Fireside Chat Strategies
Keep them informal
Fireside chats are meant to be informal, casual, and low-pressure situations. That means it’s important to set them up in a way that’s conducive to these qualities.
For example, having your speaker stand at a podium might not set your fireside chat up for a casual flow. Instead, comfortable seating where your speaker and moderator are positioned more casually helps the chat flow. This is why you’ll often see fireside chats take place on couches or armchairs, rather than stiff, formal seating or standing.
Think outside of the box
There’s a time and place for the most common questions your audience might have for your speaker or guest. But the entire fireside chat doesn’t need to stick to this kind of script! Instead, try to come up with new questions your audience might not have thought of, but that you suspect will interest them.
A great way to get access to a bunch of questions you as the moderator might not have considered is with Q&A software. Prior to the chat, you can ask guests to submit their top questions for the speaker or guest. Then, you can filter through these questions, looking for the most common questions, as well as unique and exciting topics that might be worth covering.
You can also choose to run a Q&A during the fireside chat that lets your audience ask questions during the chat, rather than leading up to it. If you go this route, be sure to assign a moderator for the questions so you’re able to focus on your guest, rather than sorting through questions.
Meet with your guest ahead of time
Remember what we said about these chats being casual and comfortable? A helpful strategy for keeping them this way involves having the moderator and the guest(s) become acquainted with one another prior to the chat. This creates a rapport between the two of you that translates into a more effortless and comfortable chat. Your audience will pick up on this rapport and it will help energize them at the same time.
When you meet with your guest ahead of time, it’s helpful to cover some of the topics you’ll be discussing during the chat. This doesn’t mean preparing a script with them, though, because you don’t want to risk your chat sounding rehearsed. Just give them a heads up about the talking points so they don’t feel bombarded with curveballs during the chat.
Leverage technology at your fireside chat
Having your audience submit questions with a Q&A tool is one way to leverage technology during your chat. But you can also have your audience take part using technology in a number of other ways!
Here are a few ideas:
- Live polls
- Word clouds
- Live video integration where virtual audience members can submit their questions on video
Focus on a conversational format
A fireside chat shouldn’t feel like a lecture or a presentation. Instead, it’s meant to feel like the audience is watching a natural conversation unfold between two or more participants. As the moderator, it’s your job to ensure the chat remains conversational in nature. This means making sure you aren’t speaking more than your guest, you’re not interrupting them, and you’re letting the conversation flow as naturally as possible.
A skilled moderator knows how to navigate these conversations, including when to ask further questions on a particular topic or when to move onto something else.
If you’re hiring a moderator for a fireside chat, be sure to look for someone with experience in these settings.