How to Host a Fireside Chat at Your Next Virtual Event


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Looking for that special something that will make your next virtual event your best yet? The tool you might be missing is a fireside chat. And today we’re going to tell you all about them! 

What is a Fireside Chat?

Fireside chats date back to Roosevelt’s presidency. Specifically, the term relates to the radio addresses he delivered between 1933-1944. These chats, and their conversational style, were meant to address and inform the American public about events (both good and bad) during the Great Depression and later, World War II. 

As Rebecca A. Kuehl explains: “An important characteristic of Roosevelt’s fireside chats was the simple language he used. Although Roosevelt’s New Deal policies were often quite complex, his chats used common language to construct the radio address as an informal conversation between himself and the American public.” 

So, while he may not have been sitting beside a cozy fire delivering these speeches, the casual, personal nature of these chats is where their name comes from. 

Now you might be wondering how a conversational-style radio address has anything to do with you and your next virtual event…but we’re getting there!

Modern Fireside Chats

While you may not be sitting at a radio addressing your virtual event attendees, there are a number of ways to apply the principles of these fireside chats to benefit your virtual events and your attendees. 

After all, these chats are:

  • Personal
  • Conversation in nature
  • Informative
  • Connection and relationship-building

As for what they’re not? These chats should steer clear from scripted conversations or presentations or dominate the discussion with your own ideas and thoughts—these chats need to be back and forth in nature!

Today, many events (virtual or otherwise) include a time for a fireside chat. During these chats, a guest is interviewed by an interviewer. (Unlike Q&As that have a moderator, the use of an interviewer is incredibly important here) In fact, a great interviewer, and of course, an interesting guest willing to share, are two of the most critical elements of pulling this off.

Let’s talk more about trying this out at your next virtual event!

Try This Technique at Your Next Virtual Event

If you’re ready to include a fireside chat at your virtual event, here are some of the best practices to follow.

Choose Your Interviewer Wisely

We’ve already talked about how important it is to have a great interviewer conducting this chat. They can come prepared with a list of questions (including questions you collect with Swift Polling’s Q&A tool). However, the answers they ask the guest to expand on are what separates a great interviewer from a not so great interviewer.

They should know which areas to dig into further and how to steer the conversation that will be interesting to your virtual event attendees. 

Pick the Right Guest

Of course, a great interviewer isn’t enough to make for a great fireside chat! You need a compelling guest your audience will enjoy too. Be sure to pick a guest for this chat who’s relevant to the content of the rest of the virtual event. You know, someone who will keep attendees online because they don’t want to miss what they have to say! 

Keep in mind, just because someone is well-versed on the topic matter from the virtual event doesn’t mean they’ll make a great guest for a fireside chat. Whenever possible, choose someone who has public speaking experience. At the very least, have a phone discussion with potential guests to determine if they’re the right fit. 

Focus on the Interactive Element of Fireside Chats

Since we’re discussing this technique specifically for virtual events, it’s worth pointing out what that means for interactivity. At an in-person chat, your guests may be able to raise their hand to ask the guest a question. But when it comes to virtual events, there are far more effective strategies.

For starters, you can have attendees submit their questions with a Q&A tool ahead of time or during the chat. That way, the virtual fireside chat isn’t being constantly interrupted! Instead, questions can come in electronically and be sorted by the interviewer. At the same time, duplicate or offensive questions can also be filtered to keep the chat on track. 

Otherwise, we also love the use of an online group chat platform for these chats. Guests can not only interact with one another, but also with the guest and the interviewer. As the event host, it’s up to you if you want to create a chat solely for guests where they can interact with one another with the guest or interviewer seeing the chat. Alternatively, this chat can be used for submitting questions. Then, the guest can either answer them by typing their response or speaking on camera. 

But here’s the thing, no matter how you plan to conduct a virtual fireside chat, we’re here to help!

Swift Polling has all of the tools you need to make every part of your virtual event better than ever. From Q&As to live quizzes, polls, games, and more, we’ve got it! Click here to sign up for free and start today. 



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