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Behind the Camera: Kaltura's Town Hall

As a product manager, I often speak to webcasting event managers, producers, and presenters. I try to understand the workflows for an event at each company and listen to the pain points and how we can improve. However, nothing can teach you more than really sitting in the pilot’s chair, walking in the customer’s shoes, see through the producer’s eyes, and well…you get the idea. When the time came for Kaltura’s quarterly town hall, the development team, IT, and myself joined up to produce our own webcasting event.

Murphy’s Law

We know that the key to a good webcast is preparation. While setup may sound trivial, it’s the small things that get you. Here are a few of the items we ran into:

  • Not enough ethernet ports in the venue – we found out early enough to fix and switch rooms
  • Microphone battery died in the middle of a prep session – for the event, we had a spare mic and a spare battery
  • Clickers that were just there suddenly disappear, like socks in the laundry. We had an extra set and put it in a safe place.

Asking for the slide deck two weeks ahead of schedule and receiving it two minutes before the event is something we heard from every single producer. So we saw this coming and did not stress about it. We now know why every producer sighs with relief when we say you can change the deck and upload slides even after broadcast started.

The star of the show

The presenter is the one really under stress in these events. We wanted to make sure our presenters had a comfortable spot where they could see their slides and the local audience. We brought presenters for testing in to test the camera location, lighting, background noise, etc. One unexpected twist – we had to fit our camera to match different presenters’ heights. We also our presenters to come in 30 minutes ahead of the broadcast, so we can fine tune last minute details.

Monitor, monitor, monitor

We used the live dashboard to monitor the stream and preview it before going live. We made sure we had a stable connection and good video before opening the stream to our audience.

We deployed our own eCDN nodes at our two largest offices, one in NY and one in London. We knew our bandwidth will be limited in these sites and many people will want to watch from their desk. We tested the network routing multiple times before the event and during the event itself used the eCDN monitoring dashboard to ensure we’re utilizing bandwidth efficiently.

Our moderator was also on the lookout for any technical issues that users may encounter and immediately reported them to us.

Make it fun!

It all sounds so stressful, but our goal is to have a fun and engaging event for the audience. We used the view layouts to help our viewers focus on the important items. For title slides, we focused on the presenter. When the slides were full of details, we focused on the slides. For example, during the Q&A session we switched completely to the video feed.

It’s especially important to make sure both the local audience and the remote audience are engaged. We made sure the Q&A session included questions from the local audience and the live audience. We also had a wireless mic and asked anyone in the room to use the mic to ask a question.

We are planning to continue running webcasting events for our town halls. We will continue to learn from our customers and ourselves, so we can focus on the fun aspect of a live event instead of the stress. Stay tuned for more good things to come in our webcasting product!

Want to know more about using webcasting to reach your employees? Read the whitepaper “Uniting Your Team with Webcasting.”

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