Make Video Work for Your Show

The Digital Sign Expo wrapped up last week at the Sands Expo here in Las Vegas. Visually, it’s a stunning show with lots of custom booths rivaling International CES (although smaller) in their appearance (think lots of visuals—duh!).

Karen Varone has been running a video studio on the showfloor for quite few years and gave me tour. She’s developed some techniques I thought worth sharing since “creating and repurposing content” is now “the new black.” This process is not cheap (it’s an exhibitor and visitor promotional investment)—but when edited, you will be able to use the interviews in many different ways:

1. Video of the show

2. Separate interviews for your show’s YouTube channel

3. Snippets of interviews to include in weekly e-newsletters (no more than 2 minutes long)

4. After post-production is done, you can send the interviewee the raw and finished footage to repurpose. Talk about helping your show’s reach go viral—it’s nothing short of brilliant! Plus it’s a great reward to those who are interviewed.

5. Transcribe key interviews and publish those as articles.

First the technical set-up:

• You’ll need 600 square feet of hardwall construction. The sound stage will take up a 20’x20’. Add another 10’x20’ with couches, coffee table and a receptionist’s desk where interviewees can wait. Have water available. Some people get nervous on camera!

• They use a green screen and bring in footage from a prior year of people walking by as the interview takes place. If you don’t have a previous year’s footage, it can be shot the first morning. Make sure the background footage is year-generic—in other words, people won’t be able to distinguish what year it was filmed. Subliminally, it makes the show look busy in every interview. Not crazy busy, but good traffic.

• Use the right technology. One camera is sufficient! Use good microphones! This cannot be shot off of your iPhone.

• Just outside of the “sound stage,” they hung an LCD screen with sound on (not too loud) so those walking by the booth could see and hear the live interview—with the background inserted. Very cool—and it is a crowd pleaser.

The Interview process:

• Ahead of the show, Karen and the rest of the Digital Sign Expo team identify thought leaders, speakers, exhibitors and visitors. They ask to interview them and then organize a schedule. Interviews are blocked out in 15-minute time increments.

• Once interviews are booked, an e-mail goes out close to show time with questions that will be asked and suggestions on what to wear (i.e.: no plaid or checkers), asking them to arrive 15 minutes earlier than their assigned time.

• Don’t ask the same questions of everyone. How boring! Ask questions relevant to each person (three or four should be plenty, as you can ask follow-up questions).

• Only the top third of the interviewee’s body is filmed. Show branding along with their name and company are inserted during post-production on the bottom third of the screen.

• When the interviewees arrive they are greeted by the receptionist and asked to sign a legal release. They are also given the questions again to review—if they need them. The cameraman puts on some face powder (no one likes a shiny face) and seats them.

• Here’s the kicker: The questions are asked off camera. When I asked Karen about that, she said, “No one wants to see Katie Couric—they just want to hear what the speaker has to say.” She’s right. If you have the interviewer sit to the left or right of the camera, it helps the interviewee look at the camera and engage with the viewer. Ask the interviewees to repeat your questions and follow up questions (it IS an interview after all) as it comes out clearer in post-production.

(Side note – it drives me NUTS when interviewees look at the interviewer and not at the camera. Most people don’t have a model-like profile, and they are not speaking to me—they’re talking to someone else, making me feel excluded from the conversation.)

• Lastly, make the best effort possible to run on time. Your interviewees are volunteering their time away from the showfloor—respect it!


• With all of the digital tools available these days, parse out the interviews. Make use of the branding of your show. Make everyone sound as good as possible! They will become (if they were not already) your brand evangelists.


If you are not capturing content on site, your show is missing out on prime opportunities that may not be found elsewhere. It’s worth the investment to do it right.

Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter at @stephselesnick.

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Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter @stephselesnick.  ... View all articles by Stephanie Selesnick →