5 Essentials for Superior Lighting for In Person and Virtual Events

By: Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM
Whether you are meeting in person, virtually or both, lighting is a key set element. Proper lighting will not only illuminate your speakers, but it can also add depth, focus audience’s attention, and more.  You don’t need to be a light designer to brighten up your presentations. Check out these tips below and shine bright at your next event.
In person meetings:
  • Make a room look larger: Worried that smaller audiences and smaller ballroom footprints make your event look less impressive? Give smaller space the illusion of largesse with a few simple lighting tricks. Start by putting up lights in the corners. Add throw lights on the ceiling to brighten it. Both give the illusion of space.
  • Make a sterile or blank room feel warmer: Use a warm color gel over up lights. Amber is a great starting point. It’s rich and warm without being too dark.
  • Personalize a room to your theme or brand: Using LEDs or gels to match the colors of your theme or logo add instant pizazz with very little effort.
  • Focus on your speakers: Too much light and your speakers look washed out. Dim down too far and your speakers look orange. A good lighting designer will find the right balance. 
  • Lighting an unusual or out-of-the way spot: Use wireless LEDs. They are portable and can be programmed to change color throughout the event.
  • Bonus tip: Make sure you share your set/stage design with your production company. Without knowing where speakers and/or key stage elements will be placed they cannot correctly place lights during setup. 
Virtual Speaker Lighting
Virtual speakers’ lighting is about how your presenters look as well as the video quality so there’s a bit more to manage. Given that most virtual speakers are not video pros, your pre-show guidance is crucial for a professional looking final product.
  • Speakers should sit in front of a light source, not behind it. If you’ve ever seen someone sitting in front of a window, you know what we mean. 
  • Schedule your rehearsal at the same time the actual presentation will take place. Speakers may be fresh and ready to go first thing but washed out in the afternoon, requiring softer lighting. If there is natural light in the room you’ll also see how it effect the rest of the lighting setup.
  • Take inventory of what other light sources are in the room and determine how should they be used.  Overhead light may cause shadows so determine if it should be on or off. Table lamps can save the day but placement is key; lamplight should bounce off a wall in front of the speaker for a soft, diffused look. 
  • Ring lights are inexpensive, easy to set up and work well when speakers are sitting close to their cameras. They cast an even light onto the speaker, and some kits come with filters which allow the user to easily set the light to a direct or indirect setting.
  • Bonus tip: Beware of glare: does your speaker wear glasses? Not everyone has anti-glare lenses, and even those can reflect ring lights. Make sure if speakers wear glasses that they do so during rehearsals. Also make sure they are wearing the same pair on show day that they wore during the run through.
You don’t have to know all the answers; get fluent in the basics and talk to your production team if you have questions or have needs that extend beyond your knowledge base. The more questions you ask, the more you learn and the better prepared you and your speakers will be when showtime arrives.
About Christy: 
In 2001 Christy Lamagna founded Strategic Meetings & Events (smeplanners.com), a strategic planning firm which produces goal-driven corporate meetings, worldwide. In 2015, she launched SME Displays (smedisplays.com) a tradeshow and display company which brings SME’s quality of service and attention to detail to display sales worldwide. The SME team’s ability to bring to life her vision for a planning firm that is second to none while creating experiences for SME’s clients is her proudest accomplishment.