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So you want to play some videos at a conference

Short Answer:
1) Start your video with 2-3 seconds of black, no audio no visual.
2) End with a message, contact info, or your logo.
3) Make sure all of your videos have the same audio levels.

Detailed Answer:
Video is a great tool to use when presenting in front of a live audience. After covering many conference over the years and also producing many videos for conferences I have come up with a few tips on how you should format your videos. I understand you yourself most likely won’t be making these videos and are probably having them produced for you, so keep these tips in mind when in conversation with the production house who are making your videos:

1) Start your video with 2-3 seconds of black. I’ve noticed that sometimes the tech crew who are running the projectors, the stage audio, the room lights etc. need those couple of seconds to switch from their stage configuration to the video playing configuration they’ve setup. So if your video just starts, and particularly starts with dialog, then there’s a chance that the tech crew hasn’t switched over quick enough and thus the audience may have missed the first few words. Starting with those few seconds of black gives the tech crew that extra bit of time to ensure your video is seen as it should be, for the best audience experience. Just image what it would be like to miss the first few lines of your favourite TV show.

2) Here’s a tip on how to end your video. A lot of times videos simply fade to black, which is fine for Youtube or Vimeo. However what I’ve noticed with videos shown at conferences is that the speaker on stage doesn’t always advance their next slide right after the video is done playing. This means all your audience sees at this point is a blank black screen. Instead of fading to black consider ending your video with the following:

a) Your logo, which helps establish your brand even further.

b) A message or action item. Sometimes videos end with a quote or action item, give the audience time to read this message, reflect upon it, or write it down.

c) Your contact info. As mention before you need to give your audience time to read these details and copy them down. So if this info is only up for say 3-5 seconds and then fades to black that’s not adequate time for the audience to write the info down.

If you don’t have the opportunity to end with these items then consider adding these items as the next slide in your deck, just make sure to advance right after your video is done playing.

3) Audio levels. I haven’t run into this issue often however it’s still something I check every time I produce videos for a client to use at a conference. It’s important to make sure the audio levels are consistent across all of the videos you are playing at a conference, no video should be louder or quieter than the other. Some conferences don’t have a sound tech to ensure all of the videos throughout the day play around the same level. If your videos have different audio levels and there isn’t a sound tech there to quickly fix things then your audience may have trouble hearing your video. Or perhaps one of your videos plays way too loudly, jolting your audience, which yes may help them wake up from a long day of presentation however it’s not a good thing to be remember for.

These are just 3 tips I have for including videos in you presentations. I’d love you hear your feedback, suggestions, and comments on these tips. Please feel free to reach out to me for more details/tips on how to make sure your producing the best experience for your audience at your next conference.

Bonus tip:
Whether you’re using Powerpoint, Keynote (Keynote is my favourite), Prezi, or any other presentation software and you want to add a video consider this. Sometimes presentation software will either choose the first frame or another random frame of your video for the thumbnail. You may want to take the time to choose your own thumbnail to use so check to see if your prevention software has this function. With Powerpoint for example highlight your video and look for the “Picture Frame” option to choose your own thumbnail.

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