After months of work securing impressive speakers and creating the perfect content for your audience, event registration is full! The content team is (rightly) convinced the crowd is going to love what they see and, as a byproduct, gain a deeper respect and appreciation for your company. Nothing can stand in the way now…right?
As any experienced event professional will tell you, having the right content is only half the battle. The way it’s presented makes a huge difference in how it’s received. Like everything else these days, it’s all about the experience your audience has while your speakers are delivering that content. They need to be able to see the visuals, hear the speaker, and get the message without interruption (i.e., technical difficulties), to get the full impact of the message being delivered.
Luckily, with some fairly simple preparation, you can ensure a flawless presentation every time.
- Set-up downstage / confidence monitors for speakers to see both their slides and speaker notes at the same time
- Use a countdown clock to keep the speakers on time. Make sure it’s clearly visible to them and that they are prepared to pay attention to it.
- Survey your speakers for special needs (laser pointer, internet connection for demos, audio, video, etc.)
- Work with your AV production team to determine:
- The appropriate type of microphones for your speakers (lavaliers, podium microphone, wireless handheld etc.)
- The type, number, and placement of audio speakers to ensure everyone in the audience has the same experience
- The size, type, number, and placement of screens to place throughout the venue for maximum audience visibility
- Make sure you have a slide advancer (aka ‘clicker’) – and a backup in case that one is lost or stops working!
Set-up & Logistics
- Decide where speakers enter and exit the stage
- Determine where speakers will be ‘on-deck’ when waiting to speak
- Green room or ‘speaker ready’ room with a monitor that has a live feed of the meeting and an audio connection so your presenters know what’s going on at the main stage while they’re prepping
- Unobtrusive area for getting mic’d, stage left, right, or back of room
- Hold a mandatory rehearsal with your speakers. Your AV partner can brief speakers on best practices at this time (microphone technique, using the clicker, staying within the defined area on the stage)
- Consider requiring the content manager to arrive 15-30 minutes early to review any updated content with the production team
- Ask your AV Production team to test ALL the equipment*
- Add a Speaker Handler/Liaison to provide a ‘white glove’ experience for your presenters. This person will assist with rehearsals and guide presenters as they move from the green room to the mic’ing station to the stage.
- Share the following ‘Tips for Presenters’ checklist with your speakers, upon securing their participation
- If you are using a Mac to create your PowerPoint slides, test your slides on a PC before the event. Transitions, graphs and media files occasionally have compatibility issues you’ll need to fix before presenting on a PC. Bring a PC-ready and Mac-ready copy of your presentation. Before using Keynote to make your slides, coordinate with your speaker manager to be sure you can present from a Mac; if you give enough advance warning, they should be able to coordinate with their AV partner to bring an appropriate laptop.
- Consider the aspect ratio of your slides. If it hasn’t been communicated, ask! A presentation with a 16:9 ratio (today’s standard) will fill up the entire space and have a more visually pleasing effect. A 3:4 ratio presentation is going to have ‘dead space’ (black bars) on either side if the screen is a widescreen format.
- If you want to use audio in your presentation, be sure to notify your conference organizers that you need an audio connection.
- If you create a presentation with video or audio in PPT, be sure to embed the files into the file. Test the embedded file to be sure it works. Remember that a .mov file will most likely NOT play in PowerPoint on a PC and .wmv it will NOT play on a Mac.
- Organize your speaking notes into simple bullets and talking points
- Your confidence monitor will be placed downstage from you, and depending on the size, it may be hard to read from your standing point, so keep your notes simple.
- Try to avoid looking at the notes your confidence monitor too much. This should be used as a quick reference only.
- Consider creating your notes with a dark background and light text. A white background on the screen can sometimes create a glow shadow on the presenter
- Use only offline content. If you rely on live web content, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise if there are bandwidth issues. If you must use online content, be sure to coordinate with your speaker team.
- When you email your slides, bcc yourself to make sure the attachment comes through correctly.
- Always have a backup copy of your presentation in the cloud (Box, Dropbox, or another cloud storage site), just in case the presentation you sent to the event team (or bring on USB) gets lost or corrupted.
* Equipment testing and tech rehearsals come standard with AVT, but not all audiovisual companies are the same. Make sure you have your bases covered so there are no troubleshooting issues during your meeting.