Attending a conference in Perth this weekend, I'm reminded how important it is for presenters and trainers to remember what the most important visual element of a presentation is - the presenter themselves!
So often in setting up a room, organisers and trainers will focus on ensuring a big screen and darkened room so that everyone can see the presenter's slides, but then the presenter is left to stand in whatever available light is left. To make matters worse, the speaker usually stands next to the screen with the slides which is the brightest thing in the room. The speaker is almost as good as invisible.
What can be done to bring the audience's attention back to your speaker?
Start by turning the lights back on! Check to see if your venue has split lighting controls that allow you to keep light off the projector screen while lighting up the rest of the room. Many lecture theatre style rooms will have this capability. Larger venues such as theatres and conference centres will have dedicated lighting rigs. Talk to your venue organiser and ensure everywhere a speaker may stand during their presentation will be well lit, while keeping light from spilling onto the screen. This will not only help your in person audience, but also vastly improve the quality of the recording if you are videoing your event.
Getting light to where your presenter will be standing will reduce the contrast between the presenter and the screen making them much easier to see.
But wait! I hear you cry. If I turn the lights on, my projector screen washes out - even if I turn off the lights on the projector screen.
For this, there is a 'simple' solution. Buy or rent a brighter projector. A 1500 lumen projector might be great for watching blu-ray movies at night with the lights off, but it's not going to cut it in a bright room with all the ceiling lights on. Look for a projector with a brightness of 3000 lumens or more. These models might be double the price of a less bright projector, but in absolute cost, they're still not that expensive and the outcome for your audience will be many times better. Your presenter will be the star, and your projector display will be the perfect supporting act. Just how it's supposed to be.