Producing a top-notch film of a keynote speech isn’t like capturing other types of video. When it comes to corporate video production, knowing how to film a keynote speech the right way is an essential tool.

Here are our top tips for capturing a keynote speech, from Coolbox Films Brighton.

Prepare

If you want to produce an excellent film of a keynote speech, you have to make preparations.

Your video won’t be near the quality it should be if you just show up with your camera and start rolling. Here are 4 important aspects of prep to consider when planning to film a keynote speech.

1. Gear

Organize your equipment. If you or your crew can’t find anything you need at the moment you need it, you’ll be a ball of stress. Not only that, you’ll produce a bad video. Go over everything you’ll need, then pack extras.

At a minimum, you should include extra camera batteries and a charger, headphones for audio, XLR cable, extra media cards, and a tripod. If you don’t have something you’ll need, either rent the equipment or borrow from a colleague.

film a keynote speech

2. Location

The next step in preparing to film a keynote speech is scouting the venue. Go ahead of time and ask questions to the venue owners:

  • How will the stage be set up?
  • Will there be space designated for a film crew?
  • What kind of lighting does the venue have?
  • Will you be able to hook up to a soundboard?

If you’re unable to visit the location in person, try to call the venue and ask your questions. In addition, many large conference and event centres share maps of their floor plans on their websites. This can be a useful resource to study while making your preparations.

film a keynote speech

3. Team

A film is only as good as its crew. If you want to capture the speaker at an event or conference the right way, make sure you have experienced team members working with you.

When you visit the venue beforehand, bring your team with you or take copious notes and photos. Prep work for filming a keynote speech can be complex. If you’re working with others, you want everyone to be on the same page.

Try to collaborate with a crew who’ve worked on events similar to keynote speeches, as they’ll know what problems to anticipate. At the very least, you want a crew that is adaptable and can work well under pressure.

Even in keynote speeches, there can be spontaneous moments. You want your crew to respond well to sudden shifts so you can capture everything you need for a good film.

film a keynote speech

4. Schedule

If you can, get a hold of the schedule for the event or speech. While you might only be responsible for filming one component of an entire conference, having the timetable in front of you will help you immensely.

Again, the key to filming live events is eliminating surprises as much as possible.

Knowing which parts of the event come before and after the speech are also useful for getting some b-roll of the audience and the venue.

That way, you won’t deal with getting wide shots during the speech and you don’t have to set up your equipment again at another time.

Set-Up

Preparation is, of course, only half the job. You still have plenty of things to manage during the keynote speech to produce a good film. Here are the 5 things to keep in mind for setting up and filming during the speech.

1. Camera Positioning

Position your cameras in the right spots to capture the keynote speech. If there’s no designated filming area for you, try to set up in one of the front rows near the stage or podium.

With your second camera, go to about halfway between the stage and back wall of the venue. This positioning will allow you to get close shots of the speaker as well as audience reaction shots.

Two cameras are crucial for filming keynote speeches, but 3 or 4 cameras are even better. With your extra cameras, you can set up on opposite angles from the stage, on either side of the audience.

You can capture your speaker from multiple angles this way. This makes for a more engaging keynote speaker film, even if the presenter remains behind a podium for their speech.

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2. Audio

Find the venue’s AV team if they have one and ask about setting up audio. The best option will likely be an XLR cord from the podium to your camera, but you might need a backup plan just in case.

This could be a second microphone you bring with you and set up at the podium.

Another option is a speaker wearing a lav microphone. These are the most convenient for the speaker – especially if they plan to move around the stage rather than stand behind a podium – and will guarantee you a good quality of audio.

If it’s possible, try to communicate with either staff or the speaker beforehand to get details on the speech itself. The presenter can you tell if they plan to move around a lot.

3. Projections

How to capture a slide presentation or projection during a keynote speech? Attempt to get a copy of the presentation for yourself so you can edit it into the video. If that’s unavailable, try to frame the speaker and the projection screen so both are visible, without casting too many shadows.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote is not to set up so the visual aid is behind your speaker.

The light from the projection will cast an ugly shadow over your speaker and make it difficult to see them clearly. The keynote speaker is your emphasis, so don’t let them get swallowed up by visuals!

4. Lighting

Lighting is something you should scope out ahead of time if you can. Again, speaking with the venue staff on this matter is probably the most efficient way to go about it.

If you have the opportunity to visit beforehand, try and take some photos to capture the venue lighting. That way you can prepare your equipment and set up more easily.

Lighting for a keynote speech video is not the same as for a film. You’ll want just enough light to make the presenter clear and visible, but not so much that it’s distracting.

5. Framing the Speaker

Capturing the speaker in the right frames is also an essential element of a good keynote speech film. If visual elements accompany them, a wide shot is ideal, including both the speaker and the visuals. Use medium shots for close-ups on the presenter.

If the speaker is walking around during the presentation, this will make your framing more difficult. It’s not impossible to capture the speaker the right way, however.

Try to keep your camera movement as smooth and as limited as possible and rely on cameras set up at different positions to capture the speaker as they move around the stage.

The keynote speaker is the main subject of your film, so you shouldn’t try to focus on too many other elements.

If this were an event film, you could include more shots of the venue or even small sound bites from audience member interviews. But for filming a keynote speech, a few cutaways to the crowd occasionally will be adequate.

Film a Keynote Speech – Final Thoughts

With these tips, you’re on your way to producing an excellent keynote speaker film. As a Brighton video production agency, we provide professional video production services to clients in our region and further afield. With our experience in this industry, particularly in creating corporate videos, we can help you take your event filming to the next level.


Rob Oliver – Director at CoolBox Films where the company has had over 20 years of experience in making moving pictures that provoke a reaction. Working with big-budget ads to fast turnaround internal communication pieces, from shorts at festivals and promos on the TV, to full-fledged films.