Live streaming has been all the rage lately. And rightly so, because it’s a great way to get your message out there and connect with your audience. But how do you do it right? What do you need to know to ensure your live stream event goes smoothly and impresses your guests?
Virtual events will be a unique challenge for businesses. Virtual events are all the rage this year, and it's no surprise: they allow you to reach a large audience and interact with your customers in a way that's impossible in person.
But this leaves businesses with a unique challenge: How can you excel at virtual events and position your brand ahead of the curve before the industry really explodes?
It's not easy, but we've got some tips for you!
As we’ve seen, live streaming is here to stay. So how do you make sure your event is as successful as possible?
We’ll walk you through what we’ve learned in this article, but here’s a hint about the key takeaway: You may not be an expert, but that’s okay! You don’t have to be an expert—you just have to know how to ask for help.
Whether hiring a production company to take over the streaming process, bringing in professional talent to run the show, or working with an event planner to manage all the tiny details, there’s no shame in handing the reins to the experts.
That being said, here are the important elements of a winning live stream event.
The first thing to do is pick the right platform. Zoom tends to be the first option for many brands, but you shouldn't limit it to that. Check out other alternatives like BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, Crowdcast, or any other platform that’s built for hosting large virtual audiences.
When choosing your software, make sure to consider how many attendees you expect and how many speakers or panelists you will need.
If you're expecting an average of 50 attendees at your virtual event, pick a platform that's designed for that specific need. On contrary, if there are thousands of attendees, you'll need to choose platforms that can handle an event at that scale.
Once you've narrowed down your options, make sure to get clear about the participants' geographic locations that your platform will need to support. Also, consider any other limitations that might hinder your event.
Lastly, it's crucial that you know how to use the platform you choose. If you don’t have the time or expertise to properly set up and manage a live stream, consider bringing in an expert.
There are a lot of things to think about when you’re planning your live stream event, but the staff is one area where many businesses tend to go wrong. While a DIY approach may work well for a small, casual event (like a monthly webinar, for example), if you want to host an awe-inspiring virtual event, it’s best to leave the production value to the professionals.
We’d recommend that you start with a live stream producer and a sound operator to get the basics secured, and then evaluate from there whether you need other staff for support.
There are benefits to hiring professionals. Not only do they have the technical know-how to make sure your event runs smoothly, but they also have the experience and expertise to anticipate challenges that may arise in the field.
You’re almost ready to go live, but there are a few more things you should know about before you do.
Another consideration is the equipment you'll need. If you hire a crew to help, they’ll likely be able to advise you about what gear you’ll need for the event to run smoothly. If this is the case, make sure you don’t disregard their recommendations without discussing them first.
For example, you may want to choose a specific mic that your friend recommended, but if your crew specializes in a different device or uses other equipment that’s only compatible with some mics, you’d be ruining the entire production process by going rogue in your choice. It is critical to have clear communication with your crews, and we’d recommend deferring to their judgment whenever possible.
When you’re assembling your gear for a live stream event, you want to make sure that everything is going to work as expected—and if it doesn’t, you need a backup plan. If one camera or mic fails, what’s the next best alternative? If your internet goes down, what happens to the stream?
It's important to make a list of all of the essentials required for your event to run smoothly and come up with contingency plans for every single one of those items. You should understand what you'll have to do at the moment if something fails and what it will mean for your audience.
After all, nothing ruins a live stream event quite like technical difficulties or low-quality video or audio.
First things first: figure out who will be on-screen at any given time, what view you'll use for the audience (e.g., will you show both a slide deck and the person's face, just the person's face, or just the slide deck with the person filling in voice-over?), and what message each person needs to convey.
This may or may not apply to your event plans, but it’s important to mention it in case you plan to have a host, featured guests or panelists, or other appearances throughout the event. In your planning process, be very clear about who will be on-screen at any given time and how their performance will appear to viewers.
If you're bringing in outside talent for your live-stream event, make sure to discuss with them your brand, the purpose of the event, and the tone you're going for. It's important to give each person who will be featured throughout the stream an idea of what the event is about and what their role is in the big picture.
If you’re including talent that won’t be in the same physical location as your staff, make sure that all of the above suggestions about staff and equipment are also worked out for each participant.
Try not to assume that everyone’s laptop webcams will be the same—you may need to supply a camera, mic, or supplemental lighting to reach the same quality that you’ll be providing from the main location.
Finally, put just as much planning into your live-stream event as you would for an in-person event. Remember that you are still connecting with real people through the screen, and the experience that you’re delivering affects how they’ll perceive your brand long-term. Just because it’s not an in-person event doesn’t mean you should lower your standards.
If you plan ahead, it will be easier to deliver a great experience for your audience. That includes making sure that their content is clear and easy to watch, their questions get answered quickly, and they feel like they have a chat with a friend.
Planning includes the list of agenda for the event, writing a script for any written remarks, preparing visuals or presentations in advance, mapping out the production details, and performing at least one full run-through to catch any rough spots and iron out any technical difficulties.
From choosing the right platform, to setting up your equipment, to making sure your lighting is just right, there's a lot that goes into putting on a successful event.
But there's one thing that matters just as much as all of those things combined: professionalism.
You can have all the right equipment, and know exactly how to use it—but if you don't come across as professional or competent in front of the camera? You're going to end up with an audience who has no interest in sticking around for what comes next.
Whether you're planning a small, intimate event or a large-scale live stream with thousands of viewers, these tips will help you create an engaging and entertaining experience. And we have good news: The better you get at hosting high-quality virtual events now, the better poised you’ll be to excel as the virtual events industry grows.