Conferences – Let’s see the speaker


At last week’s Comms Hero event in Manchester I diverted a little from the main theme of my presentation to have a little rant about the lighting at conferences. This was partly as a result of a conversation I had during one of the breaks about how well staged Comms Hero was, compared to a lot of other events.

One of the things I do, in a varied portfolio, is to video conferences. Usually live streaming, but sometimes recorded video. I do this on a low-budget basis. This means that I don’t carry a lighting rig with me, I rely on the lighting at the venue. And, all too often, this is inadequate. I find there is very often no lighting at all on the speaker. And, this is often compounded by the fact that the speaker is silhouetted against the bright light shining from the screen where their PowerPoint slides are displayed. On video, this can render the image of the speaker completely dark, which requires quite a bit of editing to lighten it up. And, it is not much better for the eyes of the people present in the room. And, on the occasions when I have tried to rectify this by shining a light on the speaker, I either get complaints from the speaker that they can’t see the audience, or complaints from the audience that they cannot see the slides.

Some speaker tips from Lee Jackson

One of the themes of my presentation at Comms Hero was speakers who stand and read out bullet points kill conferences. In this context, I question how we got to the stage where speakers present in darkness with their PowerPoint slides shining out behind or beside them. I think there is a growing recognition that bullet point slides are an insult to the audience and detract from the speaker’s message. Most of us who attend conferences can read, and, personally, I am much more interested in seeing the speaker than the slides. I want to see how passionate they are about what they are saying. I think that bulleted slides are a screen to hide behind for people who don’t really believe in what they are talking about.

So, I call on conference organisers to light the speakers not the slides. Events are about human interaction, and I want to see the human being not the written words.

Some more speaker tips from Bettakultcha‘s Richard Michie


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