With the sudden disruption of in-person gatherings, many people are turning to virtual events and meetings to fill the void. However, event planners are finding that it is difficult to plan for and control many factors during live, virtual presentations. Public speaking is not easy to begin with, and in our new normal of at-home presenting, there is an additional learning curve. Those who feed off the energy in the room during a live event are now tasked with talking to their device and imagining a response from the audience.
Our collective standard of what is “professional content” has been lowered by what we have all been experiencing online these last few months – but it doesn’t have to be. Should you, as an event planner, roll with the punches of a subpar live presentation? There can be challenges on both the technical and the human side of virtual presentations.
The good news is that there is a simple solution: pre-produce your content by recording the virtual presentation ahead of time. The content can be used for on-demand purposes, or even aired “live” with live Q&A sessions to follow. This will help ensure that your event looks professional, keeping your audience engaged and your messaging polished. Here are five reasons to consider using pre-produced content for your next virtual event.
1) More Control Can Reduce Technical Issues
Slow or unreliable home internet connections, old computers, or outdated web browsers can cause unexpected technical issues with video and audio quality during a live virtual event. These issues can cause frustration for presenters and viewers, and even ruin content. It is important to check speeds and do rehearsals prior to all events. Virtual is no different than live; practice makes perfect. We recommend at least 5mbps upload and download speed on a wired connection at a minimum! Another thing to keep in mind is that the speeds advertised by internet providers are not guaranteed but listed as “up to”.
Choosing to do a virtual recording can take some of the pressure off. If there is a problem, technicians and presenters can pause, address the issue, and continue with the presentation. All of that can be edited before the official live broadcast.
As an example, the Gravity Productions team was recently tasked with fixing a recording that suffered from severe video and audio issues. During the live virtual event, a presenter began to speak. As she did, she saw her image returning to her screen delayed in its transmission. Because the network in her home was slow, video was stopping and starting suddenly, causing her transmission to be viewed as a mix of time-lapse and slow-motion. She was presenting during a peak network time, and her presentation was competing for bandwidth against other demand in her neighborhood. The delayed transmission also caused her laptop microphone to have trouble maintaining high-quality sound. As the presenter continued, she stopped advancing her own slides and began stating “next slide” instead. She was understandably frustrated, as these technical distractions took away from what she was saying.
The event’s planner brought us in for the post-production edit. We were able to improve sound quality and edit out the presenter saying, “next slide”. Additionally, we were able to insert revised slides into the presentation to match what the speaker was saying, effectively “recovering” the lost content.
Pre-production for the live event could have prevented these problems. During recording, a Project Manager (PM) would have noticed the poor internet connection and sound quality, stopped recording, and provided the presenter solutions such as rebooting her router, and if possible, connecting directly with an ethernet cable. With her internet connection restored, the presentation would continue. With improved connectivity and no lost content, the need for so many post-production edits would not have been necessary.
2) Peace of Mind
Executing a live presentation in any situation takes skill and practice. Remotely presenting from home introduces other factors that can make it even more difficult.
Recently, Gravity Productions was asked to pre-record a session that would be played back during a live event. The presenter had some technical knowledge, a strong internet connection, and had presented live many times before. During his presentation he had several videos within his talk. Unfortunately, he had not considered that his videos contained sound that he did not want within his presentation. As a result, when he got to them, the videos’ sound drowned out his voice. Additionally, he became flustered when this happened and began clicking around even more trying to turn off the videos’ sound.
The awkwardness of presenting virtually is real. In addition to technical challenges and nerves, your presenter can also end up with unintended background noise like barking dogs or people walking through their livestream behind them. Recording the session gives flexibility to stop recording and allow the presenter to start over, pre-cue their videos, and adjust sound. This particular session was able to be edited into a perfect presentation that met the time requirements of the client’s event because it was being pre-produced. But if this had happened in a live event it would have been a major issue.
3) Nerves About Performing Live
During the same session, the moderators were not comfortable presenting live. They were responsible for presenter introductions but were extremely nervous. Thanks to the planner choosing to pre-produce the session, the project manager was able to give the moderators the time to re-record their introductions. The planner and the PM were both able to coach the moderators. The playback during the live event came across as a relaxed presentation with viewers being none the wiser.
4) On-Demand Content
Many association clients provide Continuing Education Units (CEU). At a traditional annual meeting, CEUs are presented through breakout sessions or symposiums. With the current disruption, a work-around solution to provide these same services can be On-Demand Content. Because On-Demand Content is pre-produced, it offers a convenience factor to association members. It can be accessed any day, any time, and in any place that works for your attendees. In addition, your team can review the content, confirm compliance, fix errors, and maximize production quality. Your organization also has the option to capture the user’s name and email address for future offerings as well as capture engagement numbers on the content itself.
5) Ability to Work Around Conflicting Schedules
The conversion of live events into On-Demand Content can sometimes pose a problem that would not have been encountered at an organizations live event – scheduling. Presenters who would normally be physically present at your meeting are now presenting from their homes. Add to that the complexities of juggling remote work with home life and it can become a challenge for an organization to accommodate everyone’s schedule. This is where pre-produced content can really help.
Just a few weeks ago Gravity pre-produced a content session for an association. Originally, the meeting was to be a live symposium in Europe. When the symposium was cancelled, it was decided that the presentations would become On-Demand Content for the association’s website. However, with two event planners and three doctors in different time zones and with different obligations, coordinating schedules was a challenge.
In order to facilitate the recording our PM set up equipment in his home the day before and performed a technical test with the doctors and planners from their homes – at a time convenient to them – to eliminate technical problems ahead of time. Then, the actual recordings were completed the next day. Again, at a time convenient for the presenters. What was a late afternoon recording for the European doctors was a 5 AM recording for our PM! While a live event would not make sense at this time, a little flexibility on our end allowed pre-production to take place at a time convenient for all involved. The edited content was given to our client and posted to their website in less than a week.
In sharing some of our knowledge and stories, we hope we have demonstrated the value of pre-produced content for virtual events. However, not all content can be recorded beforehand and sometimes being live is the most important aspect of a presentation. In those cases, there are many other measures you can take to ensure a smooth production. Please check out the virtual events section of our page to learn more and don’t hesitate to reach out if Gravity Productions can be of service in any way.