Anyone who uses Skype or Google Hangouts is familiar with how simple it is to send live video. But is it suitable as a primary focus for your next event? And if so, how do you incorporate it into your routine?
Once upon a time, the only people who could afford the exorbitant teleconferencing systems were CEO of major companies and organizations. And the only people they could broadcast to were others in similarly high-profile jobs. Then, the cloud happened. Streaming became either free or pretty much free. Apps such as AnyMeeting, GoToMeeting, and Adobe Connect will allow you to connect up to 200 people to a full presentation, including a video stream, Powerpoint, audience polling and participation, and more. Platforms like Livestream and professional Youtube Channels can help you develop an HD video channel to broadcast your brands and ideas. Even those expensive teleconferencing systems have lost their mysticism. You can connect your video stream to Bluejeans or a similar cloud transcoding systems and broadcast to Cisco or any of the other major conference systems.
Now that we have all these options -- and even better, that we can afford these options -- what do we do with them? Well, that's not always as clear. Right now, many of these streaming services and very good, even spectacular at their niche, but none suffice as the best option. And sometimes, a streaming option might not be suitable for an event at all.
I'll talk about some possibilities in a second, but first, here are some questions to keep in mind while considering a live, steaming option for your next event:
- Is your event sold out?
- What kind of quality video would you like?
- Do you want a two-way interaction or just a broadcast?
- Is your audience tech-savvy?
- Does the presentation contain sensitive information?
- Does your presentation rely heavily on props and objects hard to catch on camera?
- Do you have an audience base that is incredibly busy?
- Will it open up a dialogue that would normally be closed to your guests?
- Are you going to record the event anyway?
- Does your venue have enough broadband to support the stream?
- Will your presenters embrace the platform?
When A Sold Out Event Means More People Can Attend
Picture this: One of the best event possibilities happens. You book an event that sells out instantaneously. You've planned for this, but demand is even higher than you could have imagined and there's a whole host of people who want to experience the event. I'm sure your speakers would love to share their messages with more eyes and ear. And there's probably no chance of booking more days at your venue. Why not set up a Livestream or Youtube Channel to share the event with the masses who can't get on-site? Certain platforms will even allow for sponsors and advertising, so depending on demand, you might even be able to bring in more guests as well as making a bit more coin on the side.
Planning for something on this scale isn't that hard anymore, either. All you need is a pretty basic video and audio recording computer setup and strong broadband, or if you're planning on using it again, you can invest in a Livestream Broadcaster or other dedicated streaming device to reduce the hassle even more. Of course, you can always hire a videographer or production company to handle some of this for you, but if you really want to incorporate it, I recommend getting to know how it works.
The Classic: Two-way Conferencing and Remote Presentations
Travel often isn't possible for everyone, even if they want to be an active participant in a meeting or event. The ability to connect with colleagues over vast distances has been one of the primary drivers in turning live video streaming towards practical applications. Nowadays, the solutions for two-way conferencing are numerous and wonderful.
Personally, I've turned most of my clients over to AnyMeeting for larger groups and Fuze for smaller groups. Both have free options. Both have great interfaces. And, on both, you can share pretty much everything over any type of screen: computer, phone or tablet. For better quality, you can use a video camera with a capture device for the main presenter and a moderator can mute audience questions until the time comes. With practice, I know organizations who use remote presentations to provide their members with education credits for answering polls through their apps while watching the presenter from the comfort of their own office.
For a multitude of options and extreme flexibility (along with a hike in cost), Abode Connect and WebEx have options that can do all of the above and track viewer interactions, while integrating more complex aspects of their suites.
(Notable mention: Citrix GoToMeeting)
For Posterity: A Video Record
Everyone always says they wish they had a recording of that great lecture or meeting to share with their friends. Why not add it to your streaming options? You'll have a camera running and all of the options above include recording possibilities along with their live streaming platforms.
The product you get from a stream may be closer to what you want than just a normal video recording anyway. Some platforms save the recordings with the presentation files and video already in sync. No hours of editing or outside companies needed.
In Conclusion: Why Not?
As you can see, the options are out there and they get better and more numerous with every day. I definitely endorse getting to know these platforms at the very least. It may not be right for your next event, but it definitely has its part to play in the events business and you should probably know what you're talking about.
Matthew King is the Director of Sales and Marketing at King Audio Visual and runs the new A/V and Events Services blog, Technically A/V. He grew up in the audio visual industry and has over 10 years of professional experience in the hospitality industry as a chef, event planner, audio visual technician, and operations manager.