You are the keynote speaker at a high-profile conference. You have written your speech. You have crafted a strong, concise message. You have exciting and compelling media to support what you have to say.
While you may think the stakes are high and the pressure is all on YOU, you are not alone!
Supporting every quality event and conference is a team of seasoned audio/visual and presentation experts dedicated to your success. The Production Company is an important resource for all presenters. So how do you help them help you?
1) MEET the team
The production team typically includes an executive producer, stage manager, teleprompter operator, PowerPoint artist, audio engineer and a speech / presentation coach along with many others.
Begin by introducing yourself to the Executive Producer who is dedicated to the client hosting the event, and to making your presentation a success. This person is also your connection to the crew members who touch every aspect of your presentation (stage cues, position on stage, lighting, teleprompter, AV support as well as rehearsals).
The stage manager – the person second in command – ensures your media runs flawlessly, that you are lit properly and can be clearly heard from the stage.
Every person on the production team has a specific role, all focused on a flawless execution. Make it a point to understand how each person contributes to the success of the event.
2) Leverage their expertise EARLY
The production company is usually invited to collaborate in planning the event and to gain an understanding of the purpose of each presentation. They have a vested interest in your success!
Share your ideas and expectations with them well in advance. It may surprise you to learn that even something as simple as wandering into the audience to ask a question requires planning. Think about it… when you step off stage, you are out of the lighting and no one can see you. Or, you ask a question of an audience member and no one can hear the reply because only you have a microphone. All of this can work smoothly if you share these details with your production team well in advance.
Review special requirements such as video clips, live Internet demos, and audience interaction. If Teleprompters are an available resource, work with the teleprompter operator to format your presentation, inserting line breaks that support a natural delivery and highlight key words or thoughts.
If the event includes recording your presentation, ask for recommendations on attire. Believe it or not there are some very clear “do’s and don’ts” that a production crew is happy to share.
3) Rehearse ON & OFF the stage
Even though you have rehearsed on your own, you can never rehearse enough. The presentation coach is there to provide constructive feedback, help you understand how to work the room, coordinate with the crew to achieve special effects, and ensure you are fully prepared and supported when you walk up on stage.
Off-line rehearsals are often done in a “speaker ready room” where a presenter can practice privately with a presentation coach to obtain any last-minute advice and boost confidence.
On-stage rehearsals are essential even if you have practiced in the speaker ready room. This is your opportunity to become familiar with the stage, practice with the teleprompter or confidence monitors, and get a sense of what it will be like during “show time”. It also allows the production crew to get a sense of your delivery, how you use your media and how they will support your success.
It takes teamwork to put on a top-notch event, and once you are asked to speak you become a member of that team. Of course, you will do all you can to prepare your presentation, but remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You have an entire production crew on your side. Make sure to enlist them for guidance, input, and support so you are confident, heard and inspiring when you step up to speak!
Special thanks to Glenn Gautier, Executive Producer, Brella Productions for co-authoring this article.