How to Manage Multiple Speakers

Multiple Speakers

You have multiple speakers presenting a trending topic in your upcoming conference, and a great selection of panelists eager to share their viewpoints. On top of that, the A/V setup is top-notch for the big day.

Now, think—what could possibly go wrong?

Some presentations may run longer than others, eating up the allotted time for audience questions and answers.

The once steady-going conversation might get derailed as there’s a chance of conflicting opinions arising during the discussion. Moreover, capturing the audience through ‌lengthy presentations could be challenging.

Seems like an unnecessary drag, doesn’t it?

There are always chances of unexpected hiccups emerging at such big conferences—the best you can do is plan and prepare in advance to combat them. So in this article, we’re listing five ways to manage multiple speakers.

1. Seek clarity on the format

While you cannot control differences of opinion among multiple speakers from disrupting the flow of the presentation, you can definitely have clear guidelines and format(s) conveyed to your speakers beforehand.

Start by communicating clear guidelines to them about the format, length, and order of their presentations. Here’s how:

  • Make sure the entire presentation flows well in terms of transition. For example, if a speaker speaks on a specific topic, the next speaker should continue following a similar theme and present an extension of the previous subject. To ensure a smooth transition, leave cues, summaries, or questions during the event to connect their ideas and maintain the flow.
  • Decide on a presentation format—is it going to be a session where each speaker will present their slides or is it going to be an informal panel discussion?
  • Set a time slot for each speaker to keep them on time. You can also use tools such as stage timers to keep them from losing track of time.

Make sure every speaker is on board with these guidelines and is ready to adjust their content according to the plan. Encourage them to prioritize the most important information in their content and avoid unnecessary details or tangents.

2. Create a communication channel for presentation speakers

Overlapping of ideas often stems from unexpected encounters. As with multiple speakers, if they have no idea what their fellow presenters are going to share, a piece of new information or some unique insight shared during the live presentation can often provoke them into a debate.

Then, before you know it, your entire panel of speakers is debating over a topic, deviating from the main agenda of the presentation.

You can avoid such unexpected encounters in the live event by keeping your speaker panel informed beforehand:

  • Create a communication channel where all your speakers can connect with each other. 
  • Encourage presenters to share their outlines or notes with co-presenters and even get feedback from them.
  • You can also host practice sessions where all speakers can rehearse together and pinpoint the limitations. 

The idea is to ensure speakers collaborate as a team, and don’t compete with each other.

3. Invite co-presenters to submit their presentation files

Often, the format of panel discussions and conference sessions varies. Some conferences require each participant to create individual decks for their slot, while some might involve co-presenters.

When you have multiple speakers shedding light on the same topic, it makes sense to have them submit their content. These presentation documents may all not be in the same format—it could vary between PowerPoints, PDFs, or even videos in some cases.

Here’s where a presentation management software like Preseria helps you play files with different formats. Just upload all the files in their original format, and the Preseria desktop app will let you seamlessly display and switch between different formats without manually switching between viewer applications.

Moreover, Preseria simplifies the process of collecting presentation files from multiple speakers across various sessions and rooms within an event. It provides presenters with the ability to upload their content directly to their assigned slots. Additionally, it offers the flexibility to grant co-presenter access, enabling organizers to control whether co-presenters can upload files or merely view them.

4. Switch between speakers more frequently

Sessions with a large number of participants can get monotonous really quickly. When a speaker keeps going on about a topic without interruptions, the audience may become disengaged.

Imagine attending a session on climate change, where you’re eager to hear diverse perspectives on this pressing global issue. It starts with a scientist sharing insights from his current research, but it later turns into an extended monologue that causes the audience to lose their focus.

The audience expects to hear from a variety of experts, activists, and policymakers, each bringing their expertise to the table.

To prevent such a scenario, you should frequently switch speakers, making room for diverse perspectives:

  • Create the schedule in such a way that each speaker gets up to 10-15 minutes of stage time
  • Have your speakers submit their presentations in advance and make sure the content can be covered in that allotted time slot only and doesn’t run beyond that.
  • Conduct a demo run before the main conference.
  • Use varied presentation formats, such as multimedia elements, case studies, or personal anecdotes.

5. Make room for audience interaction

To foster more engagement in a session, allocate a dedicated time slot for audience members to ask questions. You can facilitate audience interaction by allowing them to submit their questions via digital platforms, or through microphones stationed around the venue.

You can also use audience response systems or polling apps to conduct real-time surveys or quizzes related to the panel topic. Display the results and discuss the findings with the panelists.

“Rather than throwing the session open to audience questions right after the presentations, I suggest the moderator first ask some specific follow-up questions. This gives the audience a format to tighten up its questions, keep the questions free of their opinions, and stay on subject.”

  • Ken Lipper
    Filmmaker / Author

As Ken suggests, the host can simply start by asking some specific follow-up questions, which is a great way to break the ice.

Manage your multiple-speaker sessions with Preseria

To run things smoothly in big conferences with multiple speakers, you need systems and processes to streamline operations and to plan and organize every talk in advance. And what’s better than a presentation management software that does the heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on hosting the event?

Preseria maintains the overview of your whole conference, which includes gathering content from speakers, tracking the upload status, and sending automated communication to the speakers.

Book your demo with Preseria today!

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