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How To Make Your Virtual Event Stand Out

Layers. Layers. Layers…

With over a decade of experience, we wanted to share how to make your virtual event stand out. Really – the key to making a virtual event stand out is making your stream look professional. Now yes, a professional looking stream can be daunting, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. The best looking streams usually consist of 6 main layers. Below, we break these layers down and show you exactly what you’ll need to make your next virtual event stand out. Layer like a pro!

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1. Stream Backgrounds

Stream backgrounds are the very bottom layer as we assemble our video presentations. The right stream background should represent the brand colors and design aesthetic while also remaining bold and simple. If your stream background is too busy, it will make it difficult to make out any images or text you layer on top of it. We typically recommend a gradient with a very slight texture over it, such as the one shown in the image. (See a similar piece for AAP) This is the bedrock of your virtual event and should remain static throughout to keep things looking and feeling consistent. If the background is changing sporadically, it can distract your viewer from the content on screen. You want your audience focused on your story, not a revolving door of stream backgrounds. 

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2. Presentation Window

This is the 2nd layer in your virtual event video presentation. If your final stream is going to be in 1920×1080 (The standard HDTV 16:9 widescreen you see today) you will want to have your presentation window setup in 4:3 aspect ratio. The reason being, if you need to fit a PIP (detailed in the next section) and your presentation on the screen, you’ll actually be able to fit more information if you use 4:3. Besides the shape of the presentation window, you also need to make sure your text and images are scaled to the right size to be easily readable. Reason being – your slides or video presentation will have to be shrunk to fit within the video stream. You need to make sure your text is larger than normal to be legible and same goes for images/video. You don’t want people to need a magnifying glass to watch your presentation!

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3. Presenter Window Or “PIP”

The 3rd layer is the presenter window or “PIP” (Picture In Picture) and it is a tiny box showing the presenter or another video piece within the larger presentation on screen. ESPN uses tons of PIPs in their broadcasting to show the person speaking while also featuring other video or graphic content. Typically, the scale of a PIP is no more than ⅓ of the screen at the most and should be kept out of the way of other text or images. Just like ESPN, we use these in order to show the group or person that is speaking while more heavily featuring their other slide or video content. These PIPs can be scaled up or down depending on slide decks or video playback sizes. Using PIPs creatively is a great way to make your virtual event stand out.

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4. Presenter Backgrounds

The 4th layer that goes behind the presenter themselves is the presenter background. These have become very popular recently as a way to standardize a video stream look. We have made many custom video backgrounds such as the one pictured here (See a similar piece for Tricoci). The two main types we implement are LED walls for studio presentations and virtual backgrounds utilizing platforms like Zoom. Video backgrounds, regardless of type, are used for standardizing the look and feel of every presenter on screen. It can be jarring visually and at times severely “off brand” to have several different backgrounds between presenters on a virtual event. The added benefit is of course another brandable area on screen to utilize for sponsors or your own media. We recommend this layer highly!

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5. The Presenter Themselves

The 5th layer is the human element, or you, the presenter themselves. You and your fellow presenters should appear uniform and as thoughtfully dressed as you would for any live event. It is shocking how many participants in virtual events forget to dress the part on show day. It can be horrendously “off brand” and at rare times, even offensive to those tuning in. You want people viewing your stream to know that you and your team are organized and on top of it. A big part of that in virtual events is looking right. We recommend sending out a presenter “style guide” that will give them some guidelines and a few helpful tips on how to dress, light their space, and frame their shot. Don’t forget the rule of thirds!

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6. Lower Thirds & Other Overlays

This is the top and final layer on your video stream. Much in the way the final cake toppings can make the cake look delectable, they can also make it look busy and unappetizing. This carefully placed layer is made up of text, logos, and visual cues to help focus audience attention to certain screen areas. The text portion is usually used in three major ways. First is to label a presenter window and show the name and title of that presenter. This can go anywhere on the screen but typically will live within, above, or below the PIP window. The second is to show the name of the virtual event. The third is to show updates for things like fundraising goals or live Tweets etc. The logo overlay is usually in a corner and is your brand or sponsor’s logo(s). The visual cues you overlay can be, for example, a colored box around a presentation window to draw viewer attention to that specific content. All of these overlays work together to add that “extra little something” to make your virtual event stand out.

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