By Dan Asselin
Let’s face it: There are parts of just about every event that are unavoidably boring, boring and really boring. Dry content and droning speakers can take the life out of anything and make all of your efforts look worthless simply by association.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that using pre-recorded video can completely solve this problem because I have seen lots of money and effort wasted on video that provides nothing other than a chance to go to the bathroom or get another drink from the bar.
But there are ways to use video to provoke conversation, impart important information and even just break up the monotony of speaker after speaker. Here are just a few ideas that can help your clients get more from their next event by using professionally produced video.
Condensing information into something more palatable
I was once hired to condense the assets and direction of a major media company into a short financing presentation for a business meeting with a large bank. In five minutes we summed up their history, their present situation and what they needed the money for. As the CEO said to me, “We want to spend most of the meeting discussing financing and not explaining who we are.” The feedback I got was that it was very successful.
Taking the awkwardness out of Q & A sessions
There’s no more awkward silence than the silence which ensues after the CEO stands up and says, “Okay, here’s your chance to ask all of the questions you have.” First, it takes a special kind of guts to stand up in front of all your peers and do this. Second, and even worse, is when someone does stand up and uses the opportunity to ask a long, rambling question which is more of an opportunity to try and impress everyone with how great they are. (Shudder)
Allowing people to pre-record questions allows them to have the opportunity to sum up what they want to say into a more precise and palatable format. It also might allow the organizers to plant questions which they want raised and even bring in questions from people who couldn’t make it to the event.
Want to add some real fun to the event? Use this as an opportunity (depending on the culture of the organization of course) to have people tell their best funny stories about their job then play it for the entire group. This is great for getting the non-management end involved in your event.
Accommodating people who couldn’t make it
It’s not uncommon for important people to be unavailable. That’s why it is not unusual to have their presentation recorded earlier and off-site. Or maybe they just don’t feel comfortable presenting in front of audiences of any size. Either way, you win with a pre-recorded presentation. You can even accent the presentation by having the presenter available by conference call to field questions or even provide updates on breaking situations.
Taking advantage of one of the major features of a yearly conference
In many organizations, the yearly conference is the only time where most of the major players in that organization can get together to exchange ideas and tell the stories that form the anecdotal “book” on how their business gets done. In multi-day conferences, it is common to have a check-in day so why not use that as an opportunity to pull these important players aside to gather their valuable insights.
These short items can be sprinkled throughout the rest of the conference you are there for — and then held for ongoing viewing by rest of the organization at their convenience.
Monetizing conference materials to help defray the cost of the event
One time I was asked to come in and author a DVD by grabbing pieces of the video feed from the second day of a three-day event. The event organizers had planned it so that the key moments of the event would happen in Day 2, allowing us to replicate 3,000 copies overnight and have them ready for pick-up the next day as people left for home. Those 3,000 copies were pre-sold at $30 per which made a nice dent in the overhead of the event.
Another way to break up an event is to provide what is an introduction of speakers before they get into their presentation. Depending on how involved you wish to get, this can be a really great way to display their qualifications and give them a great place to start.
Use existing pre-recorded video in presentations
Many speakers have access to pre-recorded video of their own which can help to enliven their presentations for the benefit of everyone. There are two things to watch out for though. First, make sure they have the right to use these videos outside of the in-house viewing situation that is normal for them. This is especially important in the medical area where confidentiality agreements can create a world of problems. Secondly, make sure they know how to embed video into their PowerPoint or Keynote files. I have seen a great many presentations grind to a halt while the speaker tries to figure how to re-enter their presentation after playing a file which is improperly located on their hard drive.
As a side note, it is especially important that you vet any video that you plan on including in your event to make sure that the person playing this video has legal right to use the background music they use as a part of it. You can try to convince yourself that they might get away with it. And in truth they and you might get away with it. But there are many examples of the exact opposite and the results can be very expensive.
These are just a few examples of how the use of pre-recorded video can make a real difference to your event. There are many more but I hope that this article provides a few thought-starters before you start putting together your next project.
About the author:
When he’s not shooting or editing in the Toronto area, you’ll find Dan Asselin travelling across North America helping clients turns event presentations into web files for internal and external use. You can reach him through his website www.simplevideos.ca or contact him directly via firstname.lastname@example.org.