Moving over to virtual events during the Covid-19 pandemic has seen one of the biggest changes in our industry. We have all embraced video conferencing as part of our day-to-day work for many years, however, removing the presenter from the traditional stage environment in front of an audience, also removed features we took for granted.
How to make the presenter feel at ease?
We have introduced some good practices to help the presenter adapt to this new world. Along with the pre-event test to check connections and camera positions, during the process of connecting for the show our dedicated remote feed technician is able to communicate directly to individual presenters to check they are happy with audio levels, and their presenter view.
We describe the experience as being similar to getting mic’d up before going on stage. Once, this is completed the technician will pass the presenters over to the broadcast Show caller who is also able to talk directly to the presenter and cue them to through the show. For presenters who are not comfortable with getting connected we have found that ‘buddying up’ with a colleague or a host helps. The ‘buddy’ will call the presenter and when they have answered they will then dial into the studio and pass them over the remote feed technician before hanging up.
What else have we done?
A key feature lost is the comfort monitors that allowed the presenter to view their notes, content, countdown clock and audience interaction tools. A solution that we have found to this was through presenter views. When bringing the presenter in via their preferred video platform for example; MS Teams or Zoom we are able to send back to them, an alternative to our camera, a customisable screen space.
This allows for the items traditionally shown on the comforts to be brought to the presenter’s screen. With more advanced control equipment, for example; Barco Event Master, we are able to create a variety of different configurations that change during the show to suit the style of presentations.
For panel sessions, we give the moderator a window with notes and Q&A prompts that can be shared with the panellists. The panellist also has access to seeing notes for what the next topic will be next.
In smaller interview sessions we show a ‘mix-minus video’ which means the presenters don’t see themselves, this is very helpful to avoid any distractions with lip-sync issues. We also allow the presenter to receive questions from the audience either by an interactive tool via the streaming platform, a 3rd party software like Sli.do, or alternatively, questions can be asked via a live link to a member audience connected via their preferred software.
As the online platforms and video conferencing software adapts to the new expectations of businesses, our industry will continue to utilise their new features and develop our approach to delivering live events.
A true mark of our success will be to give our presenters an experience which empowers them to give a strong and confident presentation which at its conclusion leaves them imagining the applause from a satisfied audience.