The meetings and events industry has been shaken by the realities and uncertainties of the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Companies have started to second-guess their meeting plans, or are canceling them altogether, especially when travel is involved. Hindsight will be 20/20 as to whether or not these steps are overreaction or prudent. But, at the very least, they are certainly well-intended. And though that intention for your audience is there, the delivery of your event’s message has now been compromised. So, short of canceling altogether, what can your organization do to share its message, in a safe and timely manner?
Consider live-streaming your event.
We wouldn’t recommend that you try to do that using a phone and your conference room’s wireless internet connection. This is too big and too important. You need to impress and get people excited. Your message is vital, and your audience deserves a flawlessly executed live stream in the same way that it would if they were gathered together for the keynote speech in a hotel ballroom.
Intrigued about the idea? Here are some things to think about:
MAKE A PLAN
Event planners are experts when it comes to preparation, and successful live streaming requires that same sort of preparation right from the beginning. The technical details are a top priority here. The demographics and location of your audience will dictate a number of details, as well as how much bandwidth you will require.
Determine what elements you'll need, including:
- Broadcast Cameras
Don’t settle on one camera. Your content needs to be engaging and the same shot can quickly get stale.
Do you have a single speaker or a panel? This can go from simple to complex in a hurry.
Good lighting is essential for video!
- All the technology that transforms your event from live to live-streamed
A proper video switcher and encoder will be required to handle graphics, multiple cameras, and to format your feed correctly.
When it comes to promotion, it’s important to treat your live-streamed event just like you would a standard live event. Build out a digital campaign targeted towards your virtual attendees. Send email reminders. Post on your website and social channels. Send email reminders, and start your live feed ahead of the scheduled time, as another reminder. Provide technical assistance contact information, in case anyone needs help.
MAKE IT INTERACTIVE
If you can, solicit virtual participation via Q&A sessions and live response to comments during your live event. Your virtual audience is more involved in this experience and not just a face in the crowd. Our friends at VoiceHive can help help you accomplish this.
GO ENTIRELY VIRTUAL, OR GO HYBRID
The nice thing about hybrid events is that you and your audience can capture every possible benefit, as long as you make every effort to fully engage your remote attendees. How?
- Beef up your social media monitoring to not only monitor conversations but curate them and overtly encourage both posts and participation in Q&A.
- Create one or several digital hangouts that bring live-stream attendees together to discuss specific topics, or, virtually network.
- Make sure presenters acknowledge online attendees and speak to them as well as the people in front of them.
VIRTUAL PRESENCE ISN’T JUST FOR ATTENDEES
Speakers, too, can be present virtually. This opens new vistas for speaker selection because they don’t have to travel to you, either. However, it does require a speaker who can speak directly into the camera, which is very different from their usual effort to move around and make eye contact all across the room. Of course, this will require a small technical team at the speaker’s end, but you don’t want to trust just anyone with that important task.
Live stream rehearsals are just as important as live event rehearsals. Test everything, end to end, from your actual venue, using the exact equipment set-up you'll use live, and using the content in the form it was delivered. Use this time to fix any glitches, verify that you have plenty of bandwidth, and ensure no overlooked details. Remember, people capture live-streaming events on a variety of devices, so make sure your feed works perfectly for all.
DON’T GO LIVE WITHOUT A PLAN B
Control the "controllables." No matter how well prepared and rehearsed you may be, malfunctions happen. Have back-ups on hand for your stream and every single piece of equipment you’ll be using.
KEEP IT ALIVE
Record a local copy of your live stream. Inevitably, not everyone will be able to watch at the appointed time, and you can use it for follow-up and future event marketing.
LIKE A LIVE EVENT, A SUCCESSFUL LIVE STREAM IS AN INVESTMENT
Remember, your message matters. The quality of your live stream reflects just as much on your brand as it would a live event. And just like your live event, the experience needs to be memorable and the execution needs to be flawless.
The current health concerns over the coronavirus don’t have to keep you from presenting your message. It may not be as dramatic as getting people together in some fun, exotic location, but with the help of a well-produced live stream event, the show can go on!
Minneapolis-based Heroic Productions is a live event production company with a national presence. We’re live streaming experts! Over the last several years, we’ve won both Telly and Hermes Creative Awards for our multi-camera live stream production of Christmas in Christ Chapel at Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, MN. Additionally, our work for this event has been rebroadcast nationally by PBS. If we can help you in any way, we invite you to contact us.