Creating engaging content requires the marriage of creativity and execution. Whether live or pre-recorded for any event or digital platform, production can make or break a great event.
The production process can be intimidating. There are many moving parts occurring all at once, and each is crucial to creating successful content. But don’t stress, content creators accomplish great work — and many do it alone. Here are some tips on virtual event production to make sure you look and sound like a pro.
Location, location, location!
The first thing you need to think about is where you want to shoot. Find a quiet spot where you can close the door to prevent interruption or distraction. Make sure the air is flowing so you’re comfortable, but don’t set yourself up directly near a fan or AC unit. The sound can obliterate your audio, so don’t sit too close. Also, keep your topic in mind when choosing a location. You don’t want to pick a place that will distract from what you’re sharing. Think, “what environment will complement the conversation?”
- Pro tip: If you’re really running low on location options, don’t be afraid to reach out to the company you’re working with for branded options. Most organizations will at least have a logo that you can use as a backdrop if nothing in your space works.
Setting up the shot: Camera position
Now that you have your location locked in, let’s talk about framing.
- The camera lens should be directly opposite your face. Too low or too high and the viewer will be looking up or down at you instead of making direct eye contact. Use a stack of books or something similar to elevate your laptop so you’re looking directly into the camera.
- Make sure you have the correct head room. Move the camera so you just have a small space above your head. Your goal is to be centered, not too high or low on screen.
- Try to include your shoulders in the shot, don’t cut your head off at the neck.
- Pro tip: Test your framing by running a few of your lines. Energy is huge to bring life to a virtual event. If you use your hands to gesture or move while laughing, you want to make sure nothing is cut off.
Lighting the shot
Use all lighting sources! Consider all available light, not just what’s on your ceiling. If you get great natural light, perhaps sitting by a window is best. Just make sure the light hits your right or left cheek, not directly in your face or from behind. Direct light on the face can be harsh, and when the light comes in from behind it creates a silhouette and can make you look like you’re in witness protection. It’s never the vibe you’re going for!
- Pro tip: Supplement with a home desk lamp or standard lamp if the weather or time of day may affect the daylight.
Staging the background
Depth is important in a shot. Some people choose a flat background, using a painting or a wall, but preferably layers of subtle touches elevate a shot. Bring in a plant or flowers to add some color, perhaps a chair or a bookcase. Anything you feel represents you well and works with your topic can help bring your home studio to life.
- Pro tip: Make sure the color combinations are subtle and complement each other, and your wardrobe.
Sound is easily the most neglected, yet crucial part of production. Use a good pair of headphones with a microphone and make sure they’re fully charged before you go live. Consider using earbuds since they’re barely noticeable on camera.
- Pro tip: Make sure to record your audio separately on your cell phone, so you have back-up audio if anything goes wrong.
Though you may be alone, treat it like an in-person interview. Make sure your hair is stylish. Adding a touch of lipstick, eyeshadow, or blush will help to contrast your face and add color on the camera, bringing you to life.
Grooming is key, so make sure any facial hair is perfectly in place. For clothing, choose something that will highlight you. Skip the hoodie or basic shirt. Wear bright colors or patterns to help separate you from the background. Steer clear of black and white clothes — they can blend in or blow-out on the screen.
- Pro tip: If choosing a patterned shirt, stay away from small patterns. They don’t play well on camera, and some lenses will read the tight pattern differently than it appears to the human eye. And always consider sound. Don’t wear bracelets that bang or clang together and make unnecessary noise.
- Let everyone in your space know the times when you’ll be live or recording. That means no interruptions, no matter how small. Once they have the schedule, close the door 15 minutes before you go live to give you time to focus.
- Make sure your computer is plugged into a power source for the duration of your call. Check to ensure you have the latest software downloaded and your remote audio is hooked up.
- Have a glass of water nearby in case you need a drink to help fight your nerves or quench your thirst.
- Place your cell phone on silent mode and turn off all notifications on your computer. Close out applications like Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, etc.
- Be ready! Don’t run in at the last minute expecting everything to work perfectly. Give yourself time to work through any issues before they turn your camera on.
- Pro tip: If you’re managing the event, make sure all participants are well prepped. It usually takes an hour a few days ahead of the actual event, but it’s well worth it. Having everyone virtually meet each other before the event calms nerves and helps participants bond, which results in a better event. Make sure they’re familiar with the event platform, like Socio.
Once you’ve gone through your checklist, take a deep breath and relax. Sit up straight, smile, and have fun with your content, whether live or pre-recorded. Remember, you’ve done the work and you know your topic. Now, it’s all about connecting with your audience.