A special guest post by Tom Scarpino, Mixed Media

Support media – presentations, videos, and demos – are a key component of all business events. Thanks to our all-digital world and hectic work environments, it’s likely this content will get revised and updated frequently, often up to the very last moment. To help ensure a smooth and accurate event, here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind as you start to build and organize your support media.

On-Site Access
Email and cloud storage services, like Box and Dropbox, make it easy to manage and distribute event content. However, that ease of access is often severely hampered once an event gets on-site. Hotel ballrooms and event spaces are notorious for having spotty or slow Internet access. That becomes a real issue when a new version of a 2GB video needs to get downloaded for the show.  So, if it isn’t possible to finalize content before getting on-site, plan ahead to have an alternate method for downloading large content that then can be delivered via USB stick to the AV staff.

Version Control
No matter how hard you try to finalize all the content ahead of an event, presentations will continue to change. Because of that reality, it’s critical to establish and maintain a consistent naming convention for all event presentations. You’d be surprised how many organizations update a presentation with the exact same name as the previous version. That makes it extremely difficult for graphics operators to know if they have the latest version of a deck loaded on their systems.

The best method is to have the file name include the event date, time, speaker’s name and version number (e.g. Day2_10am_speakername_v12.pptx). Oh, and never label a file: FINAL. That’s a guarantee it won’t be the last version.

Speaker Notes
PowerPoint and Keynote give presenters the option of displaying speaker notes associated with each slide in a downstage confidence monitor. But PowerPoint has a limitation with its notes function – users can define only one font size for all the notes in a deck. If one slide has an excessive amount of notes, requiring the font size to be set extra small to fit all that slide’s notes onto the confidence monitor, all the notes in the deck will be displayed at that small size. That pretty much defeats the point of having a confidence monitor if you can’t read the notes because they’re too small. So, it’s best to keep the notes associated with each slide to a handful of succinct bullet points.

Some slides, however, will require more notes than others. Especially slides that have a lot of builds. In cases like that, you might want to split the builds across multiple slides instead of having all the builds on one slide. That will give you more room to fit the supporting speaker notes for each step. Doing that won’t make any difference to the audience. A transition between two slides looks the same as a build on a single slide.

Tom Scarpino provides presentation design and on-site graphics support for meetings and events. He’s been working with AVT for 18 years. You can see samples of his work at www.mixedmediaonline.com

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