Speakers (the people, rather than the boxes) are the key to a good conference, but trying to get them to deliver their piece of your polished and professional event involves no little effort and is fraught with production challenges. We share our insights to try and avoid common pitfalls.
In order for their presentation to fit in in a polished way with the rest of the event (be it a meeting or a professional conference) the organiser needs to get all the presentations lined up in advance. In the 90s it was common to see speakers frantically trying to connect their laptop or find a slot for a pen drive and load their slides whilst delegates politely averted their gaze and twiddled their thumbs. Nowadays, this type of activity risks making an organisation look disorganised and unprofessional.
So the first step is to outline clearly not only the subject matter, but also details such as whose branding the slides should use, the aspect ratio (16:9, 4:3, etc..), file format (PowerPoint, Keynote, Impress, etc..), a deadline for delivery, etc..
Just like a journalist with a copy deadline, or a pupil with a homework hand-in, the chances are that your speaker will send their slides in at the very last minute. Sometimes you’ll find that they do not appear on your machine as they do on your speakers computer. This could be because they’re missing necessary fonts, charts or other graphics, so we ask speakers to send their slides in both PowerPoint and PDF formats so that we can cross-check them. We then ask for font files and theme templates to load up in our machines so that the presentations can run correctly.
The biggest challenge with slides seems to be aspect ratio, and with complicated slides it’s often difficult to reformat content to suit the screen on which they’re being displayed. In this instance, we’ve found that using AV switches which, whilst costly, is the best solution.
Playing the Host
Aside from the speakers content we’ve found that giving the speakers themselves the VIP treatment is worthwhile. Having each others’ contact details, knowing their travel arrangements and other commitments, greeting them on arrival and checking all is as agreed helps avoid any unforeseen problems and puts the speaker at ease. If there are any disruptions to travel itineraries, we can be the first to know which gives us the maximum time to adjust the event accordingly.
There are paybacks from all sides from managing presentations like this. Audiences see a professional host, speakers get to deliver a polished performance and are likely to want to repeat the experience. We at Superglue are just happy to see a job well done.