Top tips for your virtual author event

Child on computer

If you received Inspiring Classrooms, Creative Workshops, Library or Community funding this year, you might be wondering where to start when organising digital author events for children. We asked Fraser Napier, who co-ordinates our virtual author tour for schools, to share his advice!

I am the School Communities Events Co-ordinator at Scottish Book Trust, and I organise events with the Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour.

The tour hosts fully-funded events with authors, illustrators, poets, and storytellers across Scotland to inspire a love of reading, writing and illustration in schools. The tour also visits schools, libraries and public venues in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Adapting to Virtual Events

When lockdown began, we faced the unique challenge of adapting our tour style from in-person visits to virtual events. In-person author vists create a powerful experience for young people. So we wanted to create something as close to the real thing as possible.

With the knowledge I have now, virtual events seem straightforward. But adjusting to the change was no easy task! Our first step was research. We watched lots of other virtual events to get an idea of what was possible. 

Our first virtual event was low-key. Everyone involved was aware that the event might be a bit clunky, and possibly not work out. Thanks to careful planning and rehearsal, we pulled it off without a hitch. We then delivered a week-long series of events, and then another series which saw our audience quadruple!

Virtual events aren't bound by geography, which means we can work with authors and partners anywhere in the world. We've even chatted with a scientist LIVE from Antarctica – the sky's the limit!

Top tips

Research

Check out virtual events. A lot are free and bursting with inspiring and innovative new ways to deliver.

Author

Contact the author you would like to work with and check that they are happy to deliver a digital event. You can choose an author who suits your audience from our author directory.

Live vs. video

Decide with your author if the event will be live or they will send you a pre-recorded video. Live offers the potential for interaction throughout, but a pre-record can also be a great option.

Choose a Platform

Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom are popular, but there are lots out there! Check what you have access to from your school or library and agree on the best option with your author.

Rehearse

Make sure everyone involved is comfortable with the format. A rehearsal is a brilliant way to put everyone at ease.

Lights, camera, action!

If your class or group is watching the event together, check that the author will be able to see and hear them. Use natural light and sit close to the microphone.

It's also a good idea to check your background and remove any distractions. Encourage your author to do the same.

You can find more information in my short video of filming tips.

Hit Record

If you are interested in recording the event to share with another class or with children learning at home, make sure that you agree on this with your author in advance.

Final Thoughts

Early on, we had concerns that perhaps you have too: Would our events still have a positive impact? Would our audience want to see a virtual event? Would virtual events be enjoyable?

Don't let these fears stop you.

Virtual events have worked better than we could have imagined. Feedback has been fantastic, technology has been reliable, our audience has grown, and we've established relationships with exciting new partners and venues.

Our events are available to watch on demand so everyone can enjoy entertaining author events together at home. Check them out to begin your research journey into the exciting world of virtual events!

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