5 ways to prepare for webcasting a corporate event
Thinking about live streaming your event to the world? Find out how to prepare and avoid common mistakes.
It’s the Monday morning meeting and the subject of the upcoming roadshow is on the agenda. This is the big one – the event that will put your brand front and centre, with a keynote talk from a renowned speaker. Your delegates are expecting top quality content and a professionally run event, and the high-profile guest means there's extra pressure to leverage their presence to boost exposure for your event.
Live streaming the event has been suggested, but your organisation hasn't tried this before and there are concerns about how it might reflect on your brand if things don't go according to plan. As the event manager, having to worry about not only the audience in the room but also the online audience can feel like being thrown in at the deep end.
Many event organisers are hesitant about live streaming, but the benefits are persuasive. As well as raising the profile of your event by webcasting it all over the world, surveys have found that people who stream a live event are more likely to buy tickets in the future. If your event has a high-profile speaker, this could generate social media buzz for your event or your brand.
While getting started with any new technology can be a challenge, following these five steps can ensure your event goes smoothly and help to build your reputation as the local streaming expert.
1. Know the end game
Many events add on live streaming at the last minute. This can put a lot of pressure on organisers to generate a large audience they weren't prepared for.
To get the most out of webcasting, it should be incorporated into your event as early as possible. You should also know what you want to achieve.
If the goal is just to try out the technology as an experiment for next year, this should be explained clearly to all stakeholders to manage their expectations.
If the goal is to use your webcast as the springboard for a huge marketing campaign, you need to make sure there's enough time to execute this properly and that everyone understands the role the webcast will play.
2. Assemble a crack team
If it's your first time venturing into live streaming, don't try to organise everything yourself. Bring in other talented people from your organisation or your contacts who have the skills to help it run smoothly.
This could include an IT representative, or someone who understands the technical side of event live streaming, and audio-visual (AV) or staging professionals to make sure your event looks the part.
3. Choose an experienced provider
You can manage your own live streams on Facebook, YouTube and other platforms, but bringing in a webcasting provider to work with your AV crew will guarantee the high level of quality today's audiences demand. A good provider will understand your online audience and offer guidance on the best ways to make them feel included in the event.
When choosing a provider, you need to be sure they have the knowledge and experience to help you. Ask them to provide examples of their work and do your own research online to find feedback or testimonials from previous clients.
4. Inspect the venue beforehand
When your event's ready to go, you don't want the last-minute panic of suddenly finding out the venue doesn't have the internet speed or bandwidth advertised. You can make sure of this by arranging a visit ahead of time to do a test stream.
If the worst does happen, working with a conscientious webcasting provider means you'll always have a backup 4G internet solution to rely on, giving you the speed you need to stream in high definition.
5. Make a checklist
For professional quality webcasting, you need more than just a smartphone. Your webcasting provider will give you a list of requirements that should be taken care of before the event. These may include:
- a powered workspace near the AV operators, allowing them to communicate throughout the event.
- a camera riser to elevate the video camera above the audience. This keeps the camera lens above people walking around so they won't be in shot. It also protects the equipment from being knocked over or damaged.
- good stage lighting to capture pleasing skin tones. Make sure the camera has a good line of sight on your presenter, who should be set against a neutral or dark background.
- good quality sound from the AV sound operator. It's recommended to have two separate audio outputs – one to the webcast engineer and one to the cameras – so you'll have a backup if one of them fails.
- a video split from the projector. This sends all slides and images appearing on the screen to your webcast provider, who can alternate between the slides and the presenter in the live stream.
- a detailed agenda of the event. Your webcasting provider needs to know about any slides or communications that are exclusively for the audience in attendance and shouldn't be transmitted in the live stream. This can include slides announcing breaks for lunch or morning tea for the in-house audience, which may be substituted with unique messages for the online audience
Do I need a webcast provider?
Organising a webcast may feel like a burden and a wave of technical information if it's your first time. Hiring an expert means you won't have to worry about the technical side and can concentrate on organising the best event you can.
The earlier you get in touch with a webcasting provider, the less hassle there'll be as the event approaches. If you've seen examples of webcasts that you like, sending examples of these to the provider will help them to understand what you want and to give you an accurate quote.
When you understand what you want from your live stream, and everyone on your team is on the same page, you can look forward to the big day without worrying about what might go wrong.