You’ve probably vetted your speaker, their company and their recent presentations, but, unless you’re specifically required such, you probably haven’t vetted their slide decks. While many people rely on the industry-standard PowerPoint, some speakers are turning to Prezi, Google-powered options, or even forgoing slide decks completely. Each of these formats can present challenges for playback or review.
Because differing file types breed either incompatibilities or improper formatting, requiring speakers to stay within guidelines will save your stage or AV director a ton of hassle come presentation time. While we’re usually willing to work with different formats as long as we have advance notice, any speaker who shows up at an event with a slide deck built in PowerPoint saves everyone a ton of hassle.
Setting deadlines is crucial. Have at least a draft copy of slide decks available for your legal department to check over prior to any speaking engagement. We bet most legal departments would like 4-6 weeks time to review, but that’s just not feasible. 2-3 weeks should be fine, and will allow for the inevitable extra time that everyone seems to need.
Making It Fit
Do make sure that the presentations are a fit for both your company and the conference. Many attendees see inviting someone to speak as an endorsement, so anything presented on stage is at least coming indirectly with whoever is in charge. Review appropriately, and add disclaimers as necessary. This is not to say that slides or content should be censored, but rather developed through a somewhat collaborative effort.
Point Of Contact
Assigning a staff member to work with all speakers isn’t a bad idea, either. This way all communication comes through one source, the feedback is in one voice, and there are less communication problems to be had. CCing at least one other person on the event planning side will make sure the information is available in case your primary planner has an emergency.
If presenters take offense to your suggested edits, fear not. Most speakers, good ones, anyway, appreciate honest feedback on their slides within a proper amount of time. Their goal is to connect with the audience and any help you can give them may not be acted upon, but it usually isn’t ignored.
Have you any best practices for vetting slide decks?