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As the novel coronavirus spreads, meeting and event planners have been faced with tough decisions. Travel restrictions for international attendees, concerns about transmission among large crowds, and general anxiety amongst the public have made for a particularly stressful few weeks for event professionals.
Many event and meeting organizers are choosing a hybrid (or glocal – global + local) format that allows for small gatherings of local groups, broadcasting to remote attendees and sites.
A virtual experience must be orchestrated differently and can actually be more a traditional face-to-face meeting. From tech glitches, distracting noises, and the challenge of keeping remote attendees engaged, planners have a plethora of hurdles to overcome.
Gear Needed for Event Livestreams
Vimeo’s livestream product is best known for offering software tools and technology for organizations to host and distribute their videos. According to Dennis O’Brien, former senior project manager with Vimeo, to get started with livestreaming, all you need is a quality camera. But that’s only half the story; the other half is the microphone. He advises, “Invest in a proper microphone. Make sure you’re paying as much attention to the audio as you are video because they go hand-in-hand.”
O’Brien urges planners to also pay close attention to power requirements. “You need a venue with adequate power, enough to power all the cameras, lights, and audio,” he says. Organizers should communicate fully with the venue ahead of time, ensuring they understand what equipment you’re using and can answer the critical question: Do we have adequate power?
You can’t have a livestream without an internet connection and adequate bandwidth. “There are a lot of moving pieces that go into any live event; don’t let the internet fall to the side.”
Choosing the Right Professional Partner
Choosing an event partner that is experienced with livestreaming can help alleviate the stress that may come with working with new technology. Another benefit of using an experienced partner is the reduced startup costs. Buying equipment and licensing livestreaming software can come at a high price, especially for companies that may not make this a regular part of their meeting strategy.
Test Your Livestream
Vimeo’s first rule of livestreaming is simple: “Test. EVERYTHING.”
Take heed of advice from Robyn Showers, Head of B2B Content for Vimeo: “The best thing you can do to prevent mishaps during your online event is test everything, but most importantly, your stream. Test primary equipment workflows, backup equipment workflows, audio quality, video quality, internet connection, and any and all redundancies… You should schedule time to test all of your video production equipment both off-site and on-site.”
You don’t just need enough bandwidth to support the livestream, but also support your in-person attendees who will be using their devices.
Keeping Remote Attendees Engaged
It can be a challenge to keep remote team members, lone contributors, and home office staff synchronized and productive, writes Patrick Gray in Tech Republic. Avoid basic gaffes such as starting calls late or filling the first dozen minutes with banter that remote attendees can’t relate to or share.
Steve Hamaday, live virtual training manager from Axalta Coating Systems, takes classroom content and delivers it online more as a TV show than a webinar. “We wanted to bring a television approach to the training classroom,” he says. Axalta provides traditional presentation materials, but also employs an anchor desk. “We really try to make it an entertaining experience, something that you would equate to the news,” he adds.
Follow-Up with Attendees
After each gathering, check in with some of your remote attendees. Don’t simply ask if the session was acceptable; ask for three tips on how you can improve their experience the next time. Try to implement these tips and publicly acknowledge those who contributed.
An added benefit of livestreaming an event is the ability to record the stream and use it for extra content later, extending the reach of your events.
When Disruption Hits, Be Flexible
For 43 years, Las Vegas-based Jaki Baskow has been booking celebrity talent and corporate speakers for meetings and conventions. “Never, in my wildest imagination, did I expect to see a virus cause so many groups to cancel. But it is important to remember, many are still gathering,” she explains.
Thankfully, new tech tools make hybrid meetings easier than ever to conduct, taking a major strain off of meeting planners during a global disruption like the novel coronavirus.
For more helpful articles like this, please visit Catalyst, Convene’s meeting, event, and workplace blog. Like what you read? Subscribe by email for new stories every week!