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September 4, 2021

Tech Tips for Virtual Conference Panelists

Virtual Conference Technical Director Prepares a Guest to Go Live

To be successful as a virtual event guest speaker or a virtual conference panelist, you need to be technologically self-sufficient. Because when you join a conference from a remote location such as your home or office, you play a very important role in the technical execution of the virtual event. Follow these tech tips for virtual conference panelists and you’ll be able to focus on your message when it’s time to go live.

Internet Connection

Your internet connection is arguably the most important part of the entire broadcast. If it goes down, no one can see or hear your presentation. Professional production studios connect equipment to the internet with CAT5 or CAT6 cables to ensure the best and most reliable internet connection possible. You can purchase adapters and ethernet cables to mimic this in a home studio. You want to be able to plug directly into your router and not use-WiFi.

Pro tip: Ask your AV team for recommendations as there are many different types of computers and adapters available.

Video: Andy and Jon demonstrate the difference between WiFi and direct internet connection.

If You Must Use WiFi

If you are not able to plug into a router and must use WiFi, request that everyone else at home with you disconnect for the duration of your event. This will ensure your device gets the priority internet connection in your home. Someone downloading a game, watching a movie, or uploading a large file may cause your image to momentarily appear choppy or your audio could be dropped. You reduce the chances of interruption if your computer is the only equipment connected to WiFi when you are live.

Test Your Internet Speed

There are various methods to test your internet speed. Visit fast.com or search for “speed test” online. These tests give you approximate download and upload speeds. As a virtual conference panelist, you are sending your internet feed TO the studio, so upload speed matters most.

Pro tip: For a typical webcam and built-in microphone on your laptop, 10+mbps upload speed is the minimum we recommend.

Equipment

Use the most robust computer you own and close all other applications that don’t need to be open during your virtual conference session. Since your home studio will be an extension of the livestream studio, give consideration to placement of your camera, microphone, and lighting.

Pro tip: make sure all devices are plugged in, fully charged, or have fresh batteries installed.

Lighting

You want to make sure your face is lit. Your webcam will adjust itself to the brightest light source in view. Make sure the light in front of your face is brighter than the light behind you. Sometimes turning on more lights in the room can make you appear darker on camera if those additional lights are directly above or behind you.

Pro tip: low-cost lighting such as ring lights or clip-on lights for your laptop will improve your home studio lighting if the natural light in front of you is not bright enough.

Read more about lighting, backgrounds, and framing yourself on camera in our article How to Film Yourself for Streaming.

Audio

Wear headphones or earbuds for the best experience as a virtual conference panelist. Most video calling systems have built in echo cancellation, but it’s best not to rely on it. Echoes result in feedback loops or audio ducking. This is when everyone is talking at once, the software adjusts, and no one can hear each other.

Pro tip: if using wireless headphones, be sure they are completely charged before calling into the conference.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Nearly all technical problems experienced by virtual conference panelists can be avoided if you allow yourself enough time to set up and test your equipment and connection. You don’t want to find out five minutes before going live that your internet connection is bad, or your room is too dark for the audience to see your face.

Be sure to call in at the time your AV production team has requested. This allows time to make necessary adjustments. During tech checks before virtual events, our livestream production team at The AV Department tests all aspects of remote talent setups such as sound level/tone, camera framing, lighting, and internet connection. We also include time for remote guests to chat with each other in the virtual green room so that everyone feels comfortable. Don’t shortchange yourself and your co-panelists by calling in at the last minute before going live.

Pro tip: if your tech check is a day or two before the virtual event, use the same device and location for the tech check as you will for the event.

Now you’re ready to go live! Beyond technology, remember to connect with your audience by looking directly into the camera, don’t talk too quickly, make your slides easy to read, and enjoy your event!