A Guide to Pre-recorded Presentations for Digital Conferences

Published on
January 11, 2021
The emergence of COVID-19 has thrown the professional world into a state of uncertainty.

Companies have been left scrambling for ways to adapt new technologies and processes into their daily lives and workflows.

Many companies have transitioned from the office to a work-from-home setup; many in-person conferences were moved online, forcing presenters to navigate new tools like Zoom and Google Meets to maintain the flow of communication and reach clients in a timely manner.

Whether you are a professional designer, marketer, event planner, or one of the many other roles that require you to adapt to the world of digital conferencing, this article will give you a breakdown of what—and who—you will need so that you can continue delivering quality virtual presentations to large audiences even after the pandemic is over.

Depending on the resources available to you, you can either create these conference videos in house, or you can outsource and bring on a team of creative professionals. Here are a few ways you can approach your pre-recorded video so that it is ready to go when conference time comes.

Hosting virtual conferences using a studio set

If you have attended virtual conferences held by big names like Apple or Microsoft, you are likely familiar with the concept of filming on a studio set. Microsoft recently held their Ignite conference where they utilized a studio set with an ambient screen to create high quality visuals and text overlays that made for a clean and engaging presentation.

A studio set is a great way to pre-record a speaker presentation which will then be uploaded to the web for viewers to access during the virtual conference. If you have the resources to do so, making use of studio sets will provide you with a space dedicated to you and your team for producing your video with few interruptions.

Who you will need to produce a professional digital conference

To get the highest quality visuals, consider who you will need to enlist to help with the creation of your video presentation.

First you will need to bring on a PowerPoint presentation designer. The presentation designer will be responsible for what appears on the screen as you record, as well as the text overlays that are added in post-production (i.e., after the speaker delivering the presentation is filmed). The process will start with a storyboarding session, during which you and the designer sit down and discuss the content of your presentation. The designer will then use your data to develop a story that is comprehensive yet digestible to the audience. They will also start creating the visual assets that will be incorporated into your presentation.

To record and edit your video, you will need a production team. The production team will be responsible for finding the most efficient ways to record and develop your video that are within budget and ensure the highest possible quality.

Finally, you may need an animator. The animator creates multiple images, known as frames, that are fashioned together to create a moving image (i.e., an animation). Your animator and presentation designer will work together to incorporate text overlays and moving images into your presentation. Where the presentation designer is involved with the content of your presentation from the very beginning, an animator will create animations that are incorporated after your video has been recorded.

Digital presentations using a studio set and ambient screen

An ambient screen allows you to create a high-quality virtual background as well as incorporate visual effects into your presentation during post-production. The primary function of an ambient screen is to create an interactive experience that responds to the needs of the user, which means you will have room to get creative and customize your presentation in a way that is far more engaging than solely displaying notes on PowerPoint. Ambient screens give you a chance to bring your presentation to life by allowing you more control and flexibility with what you can incorporate into your video. Using an ambient screen will elevate the quality of your video while allowing you to easily adapt your presentation as needed.

When creating a digital presentation with a studio set and ambient screen, you will need a PowerPoint presentation designer, production team, and animator to assist.

If an ambient screen is not available to you but you have access to a studio set, you have a few other options you can use.

Digital presentations using a studio set with alternating screen views

Creating a pre-recorded video with alternating screen views will allow you to control when your video switches between the view of the speaker and the view of your PowerPoint presentation. You will require many of the same team members as you would for a video recorded with an ambient screen, though you may not need an animator in this case.

The role of an animator is to add animations and transitions that often require the use of applications outside of PowerPoint, such as After Effects. The work they do is more intricate than what is needed here and a PowerPoint designer will be able to manage the creation of any visual assets for you. You will still use the studio and a production team to record your content, however, instead of having an ambient screen that displays a virtual background, your screen will display your PowerPoint presentation.

In post-production, your production team will be able to time when the video shifts from a view of the presenter to the view of your PowerPoint slides. See the video below for an example of a presentation filmed on a studio set with alternating screen views.

The production team will be able to edit which parts of the video transition at which times. This is a great option if you have the resources for a studio set but don’t have access to an ambient screen.

Digital presentations using a studio set with a green screen

Using a green screen is another option you may have if ambient screens are not available to you. Like the alternating screen option, you will not need an animator for this type of project. Again, the visual work can be managed by a PowerPoint designer. The more intricate work of an animator won’t be necessary.

Since green screens can be manipulated to fit your specific needs, your production team can create a virtual set that suits your company vision and branding. One thing to note is that the quality of this virtual background may not be quite as high as the quality of an ambient screen. However, it will still allow you to customize your display.

During post-production, the presentation designer will incorporate your PowerPoint deck into your virtual set so that the video alternates between views at the appropriate times. See the video for an example of a virtual set that incorporates a PowerPoint presentation.

Hosting digital conferences using a home or office setup

There is no cause for concern if you do not have access to a studio set and a full production team—you can still create a quality video presentation! You will need a good camera and audio setup, an appropriate background, and a presentation designer.

As a presentation design agency, our best advice to clients using a home or office setup is to create a PowerPoint presentation that you will later embed your camera footage into. One challenge with this setup is that the video will need to be broken up into segments, which can make for less refined transitions.

It is also important to note that PowerPoint cannot export videos in true HD. Additionally, the quality of the final video may decrease if the presentation is shown on larger screens, such as in large conference spaces; however, for viewing on a computer screen or monitor—which is most likely the new standard of digital conferencing—these types of videos should perform just fine.

When developing a presentation at home, you want to make sure you have the optimal setup for creating a high-quality video. Here are some considerations on how to set yourself up to deliver a successful digital conference presentation.

Evaluate your space

Test out your recording space before you start to record your final video. You want to make sure you have a setup that allows for the highest quality visuals.

Lighting

Find a room with optimal lighting—natural light is best if space permits. If you can, position yourself and the camera across from a window or your primary light source so that the light faces you and your image is clear and well-lit on camera.

Video backdrop

It is best to sit against an empty wall so that there is nothing in the background that can distract the viewer—you want to make sure you remain the focal point of your video.

No matter where you set up, be sure your space is clean and decluttered to maintain a level of professionalism. The camera will pick up more of the background than you may expect, so pay attention to what is visible to your camera so you can clear out any unwanted items or distractions.

Noise level

Do your best to eliminate or minimize background noise to help maintain the clarity and integrity of your recorded audio. Keep the television turned off and your phone on silent. Close any windows so you can eliminate any outside noise as much as possible.

Invest in quality tech and resources

If you are often presenting virtually, you should consider investing in proper equipment to add to your remote setup—especially if you expect to continue these new practices of video conferencing after the pandemic.

Having quality hardware will make a noticeable difference in the quality of your video, whether it is for a live virtual meeting or a pre-recorded segment for a virtual conference. Try to avoid using the default webcam and microphone that come built-in with your computer or laptop. If you have the resources, consider what elements of your current setup need to be updated and invest in the equipment that will elevate the audio-visual components of your presentation.

Here are some ideas on what you may need to upgrade.

External webcam or video camera

Choose products that are well suited to your needs. If you are holding smaller conferences or one-on-one internal meetings, you may want to opt for a smaller camera upgrade such as an external webcam. External webcams will give you a higher resolution image than your built-in webcam and will take in more light so that you have a clean image.

If you are presenting to larger audiences, you may feel more comfortable investing in a higher-end video camera that can deliver professional results. Dedicated cameras will capture the clearest videos and images for digital setups.

Additional light source

Having an additional light source, such as a ring light, can elevate your video quality even if you are using a simpler camera model. Often used for online content creation, ring lights are a great option for enhancing the quality of your visuals. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of being able to capture a high-quality image, so you want to make sure you have a portable light with you, especially if your space doesn’t get a lot of natural light.

External microphone

An external microphone is a great investment for ensuring you have quality audio for your video. The microphone built into your laptop is often not equipped to cancel out background noise. External microphones will sharpen the sound of your voice while also blocking out echoes and background noise so that your audience can hear you clearly without any distractions.

Create a quality visual presentation

If you have the skills to create high quality presentation designs and edit videos, you will be able to create this presentation on your own. However, you always have the option of hiring a PowerPoint design company which will further elevate your presentation. Our blog also has plenty of tips that can guide you through the process of creating a great PowerPoint presentation.

Conclusion

As we all continue to learn and adapt to a new way of life and work, we are using technology more and more to maintain communication. Planning and hosting a digital conference can be stressful and confusing, especially if you are thrown into it unprepared.

If you can invest in a few high-quality resources for your home or office setup, you can significantly elevate the tangible production value of your videos and your ability to deliver a professional presentation, even if you do not have access to a high-tech studio set and large team.

If you need help creating high-quality visuals for your upcoming digital conference, our team of PowerPoint presentation designers are at the ready. We are well versed in the world of virtual presentations and are happy to help you get started.

We hope these tips will give you a strong starting point and a better understanding of what—and who—you will need to deliver a successful digital conference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Working with Stinson: The Presentation Agency

What exactly do presentation agencies do?

We provide all the help you may need to design presentations that achieve your goals. This can include content consulting, presentation slide design, custom icons and illustrations, and presentation handouts—ultimately, our team of PowerPoint designers and consultants develop a comprehensive presentation solution that meets your specific needs.

Why do companies work with presentation agencies?

Consider how much time you (or your team) spend making PowerPoint presentations for meetings. Think about the back and forth over which fonts, colors, icons, and images to use. Is it okay to use bullet points? Did you use the right brand colors? Does the slide look too crowded and busy? Or does it look too plain? How do you create the look and feel that you're picturing? After the design is done, do you have enough time to practice presenting?

As presentation experts, it is our second nature to understand your goals and work with you to create the professional PowerPoint deck that you envisioned. You can learn more about our 3-phase process here.

By leaving the presentation design to an agency like Stinson, you save yourself the time and worry over the look, feel, and progression of your presentation—we make your PowerPoint presentation-ready so that you can focus on the presentation delivery.

Which presentation design service will I need?

As a presentation company, we offer every service you may need to develop your you may need to develop your PowerPoint—however, it's tough to say exactly which services of ours would benefit you the most without having chatted about your company, industry, and presentation uses.

We've generalized the scenarios that we regularly see and help our clients with. If your situation is similar to any of the below, then rest assured that our presentation experts have proven success in developing solutions.

  • You have an upcoming presentation with investors or clients. You feel your slide deck looks outdated or dull, and you don't know how to help it. You're also not sure if the content in your presentation conveys your value. View our case study where our presentation development and content consulting services helped our client achieve their investor funding goals.
  • Your company has regular internal department presentations. Everyone works on their respective slides, which are then combined into one presentation deck. The resulting PowerPoint does not have a cohesive look and somehow, there are five new shades of your corporate colors. We can help you identify your common slide layouts and design easy-to-use custom PowerPoint templates so your team members can create seamless, unified slides.
  • Your company has a great PowerPoint template that strongly reflects your branding, but your team tends to include too much text and irrelevant images on their slides. During the presentation, key messages are lost. We offer presentation training for exactly this—we'll train your team to create better slides more efficiently.

Expectations when working with us

How does partnering with a PowerPoint designer work?

Once you contact us, we'll meet with you and ask for as much context as possible regarding the project: what materials you already have, who is presenting, who is the audience, and so on—this is our Discover phase. From there, we move onto Develop and Design where we start defining the narrative and visual characteristics of your new presentation. For more details, please read our process.

How long do projects take?

Our standard turnaround for presentation development is 2–4 weeks; for custom presentation templates, our typical turnaround is 3–6 weeks. We know this is a wide range, but due to the collaborative nature of our presentation design process (i.e. asking for and incorporating your feedback), our turnaround time also relies on your responsiveness and availability. We do offer a rush service if your timelines are short.

How much does a presentation design cost?

We price on a project-by-project basis, involving a number of key factors outlined in our pricing model. However, we do require a minimum project cost of $1,500.

We often see companies that do not have budget allocations for presentation design and are hesitant to make the initial investment. We understand—at first, it can be difficult to see the value and difference a well-designed, practical presentation can make. For our clients that started in this situation, we worked on a smaller pilot test project; when they saw the positive ROI of the presentation, they were able to secure larger budgets and found more presentations that needed our help.

What are the final files that I will receive?

All of our final PowerPoint (or other presentation software) deliverables are shared with you in its native, editable file format. We are also able to provide a PDF or video version of your presentation if you would like.

Any presentation collateral we design for your project is shared as a ready-to-print PDF, unless if you specify a different preference.

Have you worked with other clients in my industry? Can you share related samples?

Our list of clients spans a wide range of industries, some of which we hadn't known of prior to the client's project. Since our approach involves familiarizing ourselves with the client's business and industry, we've become a team of jacks-of-all-trades for industry knowledge.

We're able to share blinded, industry-specific samples of presentations that our clients have consented to. Contact us if you're interested!

Technology

Aside from PowerPoint, do you work in Google Slides? Keynote? Prezi?

Yes! While we prefer designing PowerPoint presentations due to its robust features that let us create advanced designs, we've created custom presentation designs in Google Slides and Keynote at our clients' request.

We generally do not design presentations in Prezi since it does not support the level of design customization that we need for our clients. Instead, we use PowerPoint to create the same animations and layouts that are characteristic of Prezi presentations—you can view examples in our portfolio.

Will we run into issues if we use Mac and/or Windows PC?

There are some differences in functionality between PowerPoint for Mac and PowerPoint for Windows—but these are not for your concern! We use both Mac and Windows computers at Stinson, so we're able to ensure cross-device compatibility with every PowerPoint presentation we design. During our initial call with you, we'll ask you for these tech specs so that we know to bear them in mind when working on your project.

Does it matter which version of PowerPoint we use?

Yes; the latest versions of PowerPoint have new functions and features that earlier versions of PowerPoint cannot load. We'll take note of your tech setup to ensure that our presentations for you run as intended.

Designing with branding

How are you able to design with our company's brand?

If you have any brand guidelines, we ask you to provide them early on in the process so that we can familiarize ourselves not only with your logos, colors, and fonts, but the overarching brand tone. Our collaborative process includes rounds of revision for you to provide your feedback on the presentation design.

Are you able to design within our very strict corporate brand guidelines?

Absolutely! Many of our clients are companies with well-established brand identities. We do our due diligence to maintain the integrity of their branding when designing their presentations and collateral.

Strict brand guidelines do not necessarily restrict the possibility of creating a sophisticated PowerPoint; our presentation designers thoughtfully use photos, animations, and other visuals to build the story.

We don't have concrete branding yet or we're in the process of updating our brand. Can you work without defined brand elements?

Yes! When we work with clients who are still ironing out the details of their branding, we ask them to provide us any materials they have already and to share their design inspirations. From there, we lay out moodboards of different tones and styles to see which resonates the most with what our client has in mind.

Security

We have highly sensitive information. Will my data remain confidential?

Absolutely—we respect the proprietary nature of businesses, and enforce a strict confidentiality policy company-wide. From the first point of contact with you, we assume a non-disclosure agreement (NDA); we are happy to sign your company's NDA as well.

Where do you store my files and data?

All of our files are stored securely in an industry-leading content server. The server exceeds regulatory standards and encrypts each file using AES 256-bit encryption in diverse locations.

Additionally, the Stinson team works completely in-house, so your files will not cross borders.

How secure is my data?

We take data security seriously. We enforce numerous internal policies and procedures to ensure that Stinson continues to meet compliance and security standards for data protection, including multi-factor authentication for all company accounts and access restrictions.

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