Speakers video HowTo

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How to help Conference teams get Quality video of your presentation

This article details more methods for Speakers input into good quality Conference Videos.

Presentation Preparation

Practice and know your material. Confidence translates into better more consistent sound levels and visuals. Lack of preparation leads to the Camera taking shots of the top of head (as speaker looks down at notes or laptop) or back of head (as speaker reads off the screen).

Practice getting the timing right. A good technique is to time the text for each slide by reading it a measured pace. Put in pauses for effect, vary the pace of your speaking. Then programme that time into the slide transition. Now practice hitting the mark. The great Shakespearean Actor, Sir Lawrence Olivier once said Good theatre was about "Entrances, Exits and hitting your mark!" Good presentations are the same. AND it looks really impressive if you can manage to do a presentation with the timed transitions left in. However, attendees that have questions and other "distractions" tend to militate against that being feasible and so......

Practice using a remote slide changer. Slide changers make you look good, you can work from anywhere so you're not tied to your laptop or the front desk. A really good investment if you're doing a lot of presentations. Ask the media crew if the room has one.

Make the following available to the Organisational team as early as possible:

  • Abstract,
  • type of session (see above),
  • timing,
  • likely audience

Venue Preparation

Be available for a sound and lighting check before the session. Besides making it easier for the crew it also gives you time to get comfortable in the room and with the equipment. It is best to check the venue out before the day starts.

Make your presentation made available in it's final format,to the Venue manager beforehand. Circumstances can lead to you not being able to make it to a sound/equipment check. This enables the crew to set your presentation up on the local equipment and know it will work for you from the outset, whether you make it to soundcheck or not. Also having your presentation available on other standard Media such as CD or flash drive preempts difficulties with hardware compatibility.

It is simple courtesy to your audience and the organisers to start your presentation on time, neither early nor late. Some speakers feel uncomfortable sitting up front and not doing anything so they get under way early. This has two outcomes, the presentation gets interrupted by audience still arriving and some will miss possibly important parts of your presentation. The best idea is to arrive, set up your presentation and then either get out of the room and grab a coffee or whatever is favorite addiction or mingle with the attendees in the body of the room. To make this work, your first slide should be a simple title slide with identical detail to the programme in terms of Title and Presenters name and that should be left running immediately after the previous presentation. It makes it easier for attendees to be able put their head through the door and know immediately if they're in the wrong place or not and also gives the media team a nice title to begin the video. It also preempts that uncomfortable shuffling about that results when an attendee realises, two minutes in, that they're in the wrong venue.


Keep in contact with the Venue Manager and/or Speaker Liaison especially on the day, a simple nod to say that you are present and ready and to confirm you know which venue you are presenting in, takes a surprising amount of load off the Venue manager. Sometimes a ridiculous amount of time is wasted just trying to confirm speakers availability. However if speaker liaison is doing their job this should not be necessary. If you have any special needs for your presentation or you are bringing in any extras, Make sure the venue manager and the Media team know about it.

Trust the Media team

  • They know where the mike is best positioned, remember the mike is not there for the speaker, it's for the audience, both on site and on video.
  • Don't second guess the sound levels, the Media team can hear and see you better than you can and they are after all, amongst the audience.
  • If you're not sure about anything; ask!

Despite what it seems, video is an auditory medium. Audiences get more from the commentary than they do from the visuals or the slides. The slides should therefore be an adjunct to your commentary. A simple demonstration of this is thinking about the difficulty of watching a film with subtitles. Slides should Focus Enhance, Expand Develop your message, not be the message itself.

A simple video of a presentation could be:

<vid> Title Slide
<zoom=out> #as Interlocutor enters
<cut-to> Interlocutor for Speaker introduction  
<shot=hold> speaker walks into shot acknowledges interlocutor.  
<shot=hold>Interlocutor leaves
<shot=hold> Hold for Speakers opening comments
<cue slide=first> first slide 
<cut-to time~"5">
<cut-to> to speaker #track as necessary until slide change
<cue slide=next>
<cut-to time~"5"> #Cut to slide for about five secs
<continue> and so on
</vid and pathetic attempt at humour>

Very simple and there are a lot more techniques that can be used, but this gives you a basic idea. Therefore your presentation should be geared to work in with this process.

The critical point is, the video will fail if there is a need to focus on the slides for any length of time because they're full of information. The Human brain only imports language based information from one source at a time. Either reading or hearing. There is a simple demonstration that any experienced presenter knows the danger of: Give your audience the entire text of a presentation exactly as you're going to say it, before you start, then ask them to follow you. Afterwards test them for uptake, the results are invariably abysmal. However, do the same presentation, then hand out the notes immediately afterwards and the results are far better.

The art is in retaining the audiences focus. If the Presentation is designed well then the Video production is easy, because the point of focus is easy to discern, however if the Video crew are having problems trying to figure out where the focus should be, then it is very likely your audience is suffering from the same problem.

Familiarise yourself with the equipment

Microphones are not created equal. Each is designed for a particular function and there are many different functions. To demonstrate this, take a look at the Shure website Shure is arguably the No.1 manufacturer of microphones to the high end audio industry and their range is vast, each designed for a particular situation. In older venues especially, varying purchasing decisions over time can result in a venue having multiple brands and types, so don't expect the mike you are going to use today, is the same as the mike you used at the last venue, even if that venue is at the same facility.

I'm not going to go into technical detail, because it's pointless. Suffice to say most mikes work best away from the speakers mouth. Two good rules of thumb to start are:

  • "If you can spit at it, it's in the wrong place" and
  • "A handspan from the speakers mouth is a good place to start."

A third rule should be carved in stone on the speaker podium.

  • You can't hear what the audience is listening to!

A good indicator is Television field reporters. They often don't have the luxury of a boom operator and sometimes have to use wireless handhelds. Note where they hold their mikes. These are professionals, with professional Sound crew, learn from them.

Many speakers consider the sound check an annoyance rather than the essential that it is. To be fair to your crew and audience, both onsite and watching the video, make an effort to do the sound check. The result will be worth it.


Pose any questions that the articles have raised and I'll answer them as best I can

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