At many events, one of the features and selling points for attendees are the speakers; therefore, you need to ensure that your speaker makes the best possible connection with the audience.
Sounds simple? It should be, but many things can stop your speaker making the connection, including the environment, stage experience and sound quality.
Here are four ways to enable your speaker makes a great connection with the audience.
Mic them up and off they go, isn’t that how it should work? No!
Start at the beginning; the venue and environment will dictate the sound quality experience.
Consider what you are using the system for; will it be speeches or a mixture of that and music? Once you know that you can set your PA to maximise the outputs.
During this process, you also need to consider the venue, environment, and audience size. Your aim must be that as much as possible, everyone will gain the same aural experience. During a keynote speaker session, you don’t want people straining to hear, or moving around to be able to listen to the whole speech.
Before the event, it is helpful to know how many featured speakers you have and what specific requirements they have. Regarding their sound requirements, this is often to do with what type of microphone they want to use.
In our experience, what is most convenient for you as the sound team, might not be what a speaker wants or needs.
Depending on their style of presentation, they might want to use a hand-held mic, or lectern based one. Traditionally we would plan headset mics for most speakers. By using these, it allows more flexibility for them, and as a team, we set up each mic in advance based on the running order and rehearsal feedback.
Planning such as this enables you to ensure that everything flows smoothly, and with multiple speakers, it’s crucial to have this ready to go. As with all events, always a good idea to plan for a little bit of the unexpected too!
You’ve got your sound sorted; they have their mic, your PA is set-up, what next? Before you move on, consider one additional sound-based postscript. Have you seen The Naked Gun, the scene in the toilet? If not, have a look, and it won’t happen on your watch.
Standing in front
The speakers should have an idea of the type of people they will be speaking to; they will have their speech or discussion piece ready. What else do they need to worry about when on stage?
Depending on their experience, it might be the first time they are on a large stage in front of an audience. By running a rehearsal, you can help a speaker find their feet and let them acclimatise to the stage environment.
Will they be interacting with anything on the stage, other than a screen and visuals? Even if it is an auto-cue or prompts on stage-level monitors, it would be ideal for them to have those in place and practice, especially if they like to walk around. A rehearsal can help with their timings, plus how they will position themselves on stage.
The style of the stage can have a significant impact on how the speaker works and interacts. With a traditionally shaped stage, it can feel quite comfortable, however, if you are working in the round, or with a catwalk, it can feel more challenging to get into a rhythm.
Allowing the speaker time to adjust to the stage and set will give them more confidence to work the stage with confidence during the event.
If they are demonstrating something on stage, we would always recommend that they rehearse this if possible. At an event this year we had an unveiling of new equipment and technology on stage, this was a vital part of the key presentation during the final day. We ensured that the presenters and speakers were happy with how the unveiling would work, and the steps that would lead up to it.
Like so many of these things, it sounds simple, but practice makes it simple.
In the spotlight
During the stage rehearsal, the speaker can experience what the lighting will be like during the event too. Just like the experience of being on stage, being professionally lit can be off-putting when first illuminated.
Depending on the type of the event and style of the speaker, it can have a substantial effect on the lighting style used. It could range from dramatic spotlighting to a more naturalistic wash of light.
Consider how the event will run and how the lighting will change. You may have a speaker who will be moving from making a presentation to delivering a Q&A with a group of guests on stage. A move of styles on stage will most likely include a change in lighting style too. It would be useful for both the speaker and lighting team to experience this during the rehearsal; during this, you can see any issues rather than waiting until the main event.
If you are using spotlights, giving the speaker a chance to experience it before the event can help, as coming out onto a stage picked out by a spotlight can be overwhelming.
We know that the delivery of content to your audience is crucial; you need to feel confident that it is there as you expect it.
Ultimately by ensuring that everything is in place, it will help to make the speaker feel more confident and in control.
Many speakers will start with a short video and then roll straight into a presentation, or use a set of slides to illustrate some of their key points.
We need to check that everything is formatted correctly, runs smoothly and most importantly, will work as you expect it should.
We also like to do a run-through of your content, even if it’s sitting down at a laptop. Doing this, we can ensure that everything is in place and by rehearsing it, we can ensure that notes are in time with the right visuals on screen.
If the speaker wants to try their presentation on stage during the rehearsal, including check their notes on a comfort monitor, we value this time. Working with your visuals on a large screen can be challenging. Most AV teams will be happy to give speakers as much time as possible to get their presentation right, and for them to feel at their most comfortable.
If you consider these four elements when planning your event and booking your speakers, we believe your speakers should feel more confident. Ultimately they should make a better connection with the audience, and therefore create a more engaging event.
If you’d like to find out more about how we work with our clients and their speakers, please get in touch.