In the last few years thanks to new technologies like Facebook Live, the ability to broadcast both audio and video of an event on the internet as it happens – otherwise known as live streaming – has quickly gained in popularity.
According to livestream, a hardware and software tool provider that helps organizers share their events live online, “81 percent of audiences on the internet and on mobile consumed more live video in 2016 than they had the year before.”
It’s no surprise with more live streaming video being consumed and appearing just about everywhere in our everyday lives, usage at corporate events is growing too. Live streaming your corporate event is a cost-effective way to reach broader audiences, boost engagement and increase your event ROI.
For example, there are plenty of times where potential event attendees want to attend, yet can’t make the trip because of conflicting schedules or long distances to travel. A live stream easily allows remote attendees to participate in your event.
Live streaming also gives planners the opportunity to engage a whole new market of people who have never attended a past event. A live stream gives them a chance to get a taste of your event experience, and often increases the likelihood they’ll attend in person the next year. According to Digitell, a multimedia development company, “30 percent of people who watch a live stream of an event will attend the same event in person the following year.”
Unlike when we live stream in our personal lives and it’s OK if the quality is a bit shaky or the audio is hard to hear, live streaming a corporate event has bigger and higher stakes. Poor quality, technology issues or inaudible audio can quickly damage your event’s brand perception and reputation. And for many meeting and event planners, knowing and understanding all of the prep required for a smooth live stream can be extremely stressful and nerve-racking.
To successfully live stream your event, here are the five top tips to keep in mind.
1. START WITH A PLAN
All of the same thought, detail and due diligence that goes into every other aspect of your event also applies to your live stream. You can’t be successful if you just “wing it.” The best event live streams account for the following:
- The audience. Who do you want to join the live stream? Is it an internal audience of employees, or a whole new group of potential attendees who may not be familiar with your event? Either way, clearly defining who you’re targeting will shape your strategies for creating awareness and promoting your live stream.
In addition, think about the audience demographics. If you’re planning on a large international audience joining, to the best of your ability you’ll want to factor in different time zones and global holidays to drive maximum attendance.
To adequately plan needed bandwidth, your tech team will also want to know the expected number of participants and anticipated event length. It’s always better to err optimistically, overestimating and planning for more than expected.
- The promotion strategy. Just because you live stream it, doesn’t mean remote participants will watch. Like you have an integrated promotion strategy to drive in-person event registrations, do the same for your live stream. Actively promote the option to participate virtually through email, direct mail and social media.
And don’t forget to send reminders to potential virtual attendees the day before and right before the live stream starts. Give them a copy of the live stream schedule, and provide a link to make watching the live stream easy.
- The venue. As soon as you’re even thinking about live streaming your event, bring the venue into your plans. Start asking what equipment they have on hand already to facilitate live streaming and what you’ll need to bring in at an additional cost.
Make sure your venue is up to the challenge. According to Brightcove, a global provider of delivering online video, poor-quality video can make someone 62 percent more likely to have a negative perception of the brand that produced it.
Ideally, a venue like the OLC that has a dedicated on-site studio, all the latest high-definition production switching, routing and editing equipment, plus ample bandwidth, helps ensure your live stream audio and video is high quality.
2. DESIGN AN OPTIMAL LIVE STREAM
When it comes to designing an optimal live stream strategy, first decide which meeting moments will be appropriate for remote audiences. Many times, companies choose to live stream select, relevant content, keeping streamed segments to no 20-30 minutes max to keep attention focused.
For example, these are some of the popular ways a live stream is typically used to compliment your face-to-face meeting:
- Have remote audiences watch and listen to your meeting kick-off or keynote presentation via live stream.
- Stream a live demonstration or technical talk to help non-attendees learn about and see your products in action.
- Unveil a new product or share important news to a larger audience with a live video stream of the announcement.
- Host a Q&A with company executives, or interview industry experts on hot topics and issues during a special live video streamed segment.
Besides determining what and how much is live streamed, to create a successful live stream, make plans to involve the remote audience. It won’t be as engaging for virtual participants if the live stream is a one-way dialog.
Use simple strategies like Q & A segments, polling, or even surveys to keep audiences’ attention during your live stream. This will keep your audience members actively engaged and increase the likelihood they’ll decide to attend your next event in-person.
And more and more, part of creating a successful live stream involves getting sponsors or industry partners involved. This can create a potential additional revenue strategy to subsidize the cost of the live stream, while giving the sponsor an opportunity to increase awareness and reach additional audiences.
3. SPECIFY YOUR TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENTS
There are many moving elements to a successful live stream – including cameras, lighting, audio and the underlying live stream technology. The technology used to get the signal from the camera to the viewing audience can make or break your life stream.
Work with your tech team, plus the on-site production crew at the event venue handling your live stream to confirm all of the specifications, including:
- The video switcher. The best practice is to use multiple cameras and a video switcher to create a visually interesting, dynamic live stream. You’ll need to decide how many inputs you’ll need, which is based on how many cameras are being used plus any other inputs like speaker support slides or graphics being shown in the meeting room.
- Encoding. Encoding is the process of converting captured video into a streaming format. There are multiple ways to encode video, so you’ll want to work with your tech team to determine what encoding hardware and software is needed, plus the final encoded format to best reach remote viewers with different connection speeds and screen sizes.
- Bandwidth. Your bandwidth should be dedicated to the live stream, and separate from any bandwidth the audience or production team is using. A robust wired connection is typically sufficient, but sometimes additional bandwidth from a satellite truck is needed too.
4. DON’T LEAVE YOUR LIVE STREAM TO CHANCE
Imagine: your CEO steps on stage for his kick-off keynote presentation. He launches into a detailed explanation of your company’s latest product release, which draws a standing ovation from the in-person crowd.
But unfortunately, there was a problem with the live stream and all of the remote attendees you worked so hard to watch the event only see a blank screen for the entire live broadcast.
There’s one critical piece of advice for every successful live stream: Test, test, and test some more. A full technical rehearsal/dry-run is crucial to give you and your team the chance to work out any potential kinks or issues well in advance of the event.
Perform an end-to-end test, which means you test from the actual venue location you’ll be live streaming from, with all of the exact gear and content exactly as it will be during the live stream. And don’t forget about including all microphones you’re planning on using too. This kind of robust testing is the best way to ensure your bandwidth is ready to handle real moving audio and video.
Also during your test, confirm the stream works on all the possible devices remote participants might be using to watch the live stream – including desktops, iPads and mobile devices.
Another tip? Start streaming well before the actual event starts. And that just doesn’t mean two minutes before go time. Some companies start their live stream several hours before an event, with a simple set of rotating slates that remind remote participants what time the live stream starts and a schedule of key events.
Not only does this make sure your attendees are on-time your live stream, but it also provides confirmation the live stream is correctly working for viewers.
Don’t forget to provide a technical phone number or dedicated email address too. That way if any remote viewers have a technical question or experience an issue, they’ll know who to contact for help.
And despite all the testing you may do, savvy planners always have a Plan B. There’s something to be said about Murphy’s Law. But if you adequately plan a backup, there’s a greater chance you’ll reduce your chances of failure and recovery will be quicker.
Budgets often are a prime driver in determining the scale of your backup plan. But there are several simple strategies to put in place, like backup power or multiple encoders that can cost-effectively provide reassurance and peace of mind.
5. LEVERAGE THE LIVE STREAM
Once you’ve made it through the live stream, don’t let all your hard work and excellent content be for nothing. Make sure to record a local copy so you can take all the footage and repurpose it for different marketing materials. For example, use the footage to create teaser videos for future events or to engage social media followers year-round.
Just as important, use the recorded live steam to share a replay ready as soon as the event ends. Quickly posting a copy and sharing a URL to access the recorded live stream makes it easy for any viewers who joined late to catch up on what they missed, or allows participants to go back and revisit parts of the event again.
And don’t forget to review the copy with your team as part of your event debrief. Watching it again from the perspective of a participant instead of producer allows you to note changes you’d make for the next live stream and make notes about other improvements to incorporate.
Follow these top tips to make your live stream successful – and at the same time, increase the reach of your event and drive future in-person attendance.
Guest Author: Lisé A. Puckorius, CEO, OLC Education & Conference Center
Lisé Puckorius is CEO at the OLC Education & Conference Center, where she’s responsible for running and overseeing the day-to-day operations. A veteran in the meetings industry, she has an extensive background in event planning and education management experience. The OLC is a 14,000 square feet, state-of-the-art venue featuring multi-purpose auditorium and meeting lecture space; a spacious hands-on teaching lab; and a fully equipped HD broadcast film studio wired for live streaming and video conferencing. Each year the OLC hosts hundreds of educational meetings and events, special events and lab trainings, drawing participants from around the world.
And please do us a little favor and share this post with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them as they go about planning meetings and events.
Event technology beyond the registration app.
Turning passive attendees into active participants.