Event livestreaming has become increasingly popular in recent years for reasons of convenience and accessibility. Live event streaming has also flourished in response to organizations that are often widely – and even globally – distributed. But while livestreaming has long been seen as a beneficial event feature, it’s the COVID-19 pandemic that has made it front and center.
With in-person events – from classes to meetings to conferences and beyond – being largely impossible for the bulk of 2020 and now into 2021, live event streaming has shifted from a nice-to-have to completely essential. This expectation of live event streaming availability isn’t expected to go away as the vaccine roles out. Rather, livestreaming is likely to retain a central role in how we gather and communicate, even after we can resume large in person gatherings.
This is because live event streaming has significant benefits beyond social distancing. Live event streaming allows those who can’t attend an event in person due to scheduling, cost, or distance to participate anyway. This can broaden your audience and help your organization be more equitable in terms of access to information. Additionally, livestreaming options reduce the necessity of travel, which offers an environmental benefit.
Studies have also found that viewers vastly prefer live video streaming to video on demand, so making your events available as they happen and not just after the fact is key.
There is no real limit to the types of events you can livestream. From large corporate activities like conferences, town halls, and CEO addresses to lectures, classes, and performances live event streaming is possible for any audience size and any budget.
Getting Started with Live Event Streaming
To get started with live event streaming, it’s important that you understand the difference between live event streaming and live video communication. You’ll also need to consider your audience size, the nature of your event, and your budget. You’ll also need to select a streaming provider who will receive the stream of your event (whether you’re broadcasting from your desktop or a conference center) and distribute it to your audience no matter their location or device type.
If you think you’re going to do more than one event over time, choosing a streaming provider who can support your event regardless of its scale is essential. This allows you to move ahead without having to figure out ahead of time if your events will become larger or smaller or change down the road. If your event is successful, you probably won’t want to stop after just one. So it can save a lot of headache later to have a constant partner who will be with you from self-serve scenarios (in which your livestream directly from your computer or mobile device’s camera) to large-scale, highly produced multi-camera events and anything in between.
Understanding the Technical Components of Live Event Streaming
The idea of an event live stream can seem complicated. There’s a lot going on technically and even though you can leave this part of the task to the experts, it helps to have a general sense of the livestream process to make the best decisions about providers and technology.
Livestreaming starts with you and the content you’re creating. That content needs to then be captured in some way by a camera and a microphone – whether those are the ones already built into your computer or higher end products. This content then needs to go through an encoder which turns your content into something that can be streamed and sends it to your provider. In the case of self-serve and other less complex streaming scenarios, the encoder is just a piece o software. But for large, multi-camera events that may also involve multiple streams, the encoder software function must live in a dedicated piece of hardware.
Once your content reaches the encoder, it will be delivered to your streaming provider via a network protocol called RTMP. Your streaming provider will then work its magic and then stream the content out to your audience, who will receive a smooth, uninterrupted feed suited to their viewing device of choice thanks to adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming.
We know this sounds complicated, but once you’ve signed on to work with a streaming provider you won’t have to worry about this technical alphabet soup, and instead can just focus on creating great content.
Choosing Your Production Values
For your live event stream, you will need to decide on a production value. Much of this will depend on your audience size, the purpose of your live event stream, and the resources your organization already has in place.
Let’s talk about top tier, complex productions first. Events like this are expensive and can cost well into the six figures, especially if your organization doesn’t already have access to infrastructure like a studio or auditorium, multiple cameras, and professional lighting and sound equipment. Event live streams of this nature often have a dedicated in-house team that script, manage, produce, and mix the event as it happens – and that’s before your content event gets uploaded to your streaming serve provider.
If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry. White glove serves are often available from streaming providers, allowing you to focus on your content, while they focus on making your content look fantastic.
This type of high-end live event stream is most suited large-scale events with multiple speakers, embedded video and presentations, and a significant audience size. While live event streams of this nature sound impressive – and they are – they just aren’t necessary for every type of event, and professional, top quality results are also available with less complex production values and a smaller budget.
A single camera event with quality microphones for speakers and some limited professional lighting can look just as polished as a more complex presentation and cost significantly less. This type of set-up is still appropriate for live event streams that target a large audience, but tends to be more suited for internal organization addresses and/or presentations delivered by a single speaker.
Finally, a more informal, entry-level type of live stream event is available through the previously mentioned self-serve option, which requires no special technology. It can be done straight from your laptop, even using the built-in camera and mic as necessary (although using a USB microphone or a headset usually is a good idea for better sound.) This can be a great option for a departmental internal meeting or an intentionally casual, on-the-fly address from an organization’s leadership.
Ultimately, there is no reason to dedicate your company or organization to just one type of live event streaming. A mix or formats and budgets can be the best bet once your organization is fully committed to providing livestreamed content to its stakeholders.
Before Your Live Stream Event
Once you have your technology and service providers in place and have decided what level of production values will be involved, there are still several steps needed to ensure you provide a successful presentation. Consider implementing these tips to have the best possible experience.
Write out a script for your live event stream in advance
More complex events with multiple speakers will require careful scripting, but even if you are using the self-serve option and even if your speaker is a great extemporaneous speaker, your live event stream will go more smoothly and feel more professional if you have a clear road map you are following for the presentation.
Practice for your live event stream
Writing an event script requires using your event script. Just like actors rehearse for a play and teachers generally practice new lectures before they present them, you should do one or more run-throughs of your event live stream in advance to make sure the day of goes as smoothly as possible.
Get feedback on your live event stream practice sessions
Having a limited audience – whether remote or in person — for your live event stream practice sessions can give you valuable feedback about your content, presentation, and pacing. Having a practice audience who is less familiar with your script and your plans can also help you see areas to improve that you might otherwise miss.
Promote your live stream event
If you build it, they will come – but only if your audience knows about it! Before to start promoting your live event stream as soon as you’ve set the date. Give people a way to RSVP for the event and consider using this as an opportunity to collect information about what they are looking for in the event or from your organization. This will also allow you to send our reminder notes as the event approaches to boost attendance. Definitely consider using video email to build excitement for the livestream format.
During Your Live Stream Event
Use analytics to monitor engagement with your event live stream
With the right streaming provider, you’ll have access to analytics in real-time as your event happens. This will allow you to monitor attendance and engagement, and will provide information on where your attendees are in the world and what types of platforms they are using. Analytics monitoring to help you pivot on the fly to keep users engaged and can help you craft and refine future events live streams for even greater audience satisfaction.
Use interactive features for a lean-forward experience on your live event stream
Attending a live stream event does not have to be a passive experience for your viewers. Interactive features like quizzing, polls, and live Q&A are all possible (be sure to make these components part of your scripts and rehearsals before the event) with the right streaming tools and provider. These lean-forward elements can keep your audience engaged, ensure they don’t leave the event early, lead to greater satisfaction, and provide you even more valuable data about your audience and its needs.
Don’t worry if everything on your live event stream doesn’t go exactly according to plan
Presenting a live event means that sometimes things won’t go entirely according to plan. Maybe your dog will decide to say hello in the middle of your livestream or you’ll forget your lines. Don’t panic if these or other unexpected events happen. As long as you’ve practiced and maintain a good sense of humor, you’ll be ready to roll with anything unexpected that may happen during your event. And with the right live event stream provider supporting the distribution of your content, you’ll know that you’re in good hands even if your live event stream experiences the unexpected.
After Your Live Event Stream
Congratulations! You’ve just successfully presented a live event stream. It’s time to exhale and to congratulate your team. But your work isn’t done yet. Follow-up can be an essential part of getting full value from your live stream event.
Follow-up on your live event stream
Be sure to thank your attendees for coming to your event, ask them for feedback, and reiterate any key calls to action with follow up emails (once again consider using video email) and other communications. A survey asking them to evaluate various parts of the live stream event experience can help you plan even more successful events in the future.
Address action items agreed upon or raised during the event live stream
Did your livestream lead to any agreed upon action items? Did a Q&A session result in your presenters making any specific commitments in response? Make you have a plan to execute on these items and make sure your attendees know the plan and the timeline. The meaningful connections created by live event streaming are most useful when the channels of communication remain open.
Analyze your live event stream’s attendance data
Analytics aren’t just for during your live event stream, they are also for after the event is over. If you see attendance drop offs at certain points, that may indicate an issue to learn more about in follow up communication. Did attendees have a scheduling conflict that caused early departures? Or did they not find a particular speaker or topic useful to their needs? Perhaps they had already received the information they had come to your live event stream for. Analytics are key to understanding audience sentiment and making sure your stakeholders are able to have their needs met by future live event streams.
Make recorded live event stream material available as video on demand
Some people who wanted to attend your live event stream were probably unable to, due to scheduling. Meanwhile, those who did attend may want to review some aspects of your presentation. Making all or part of your event live stream content available as video on demand (VOD) can help you to continue to receive value from your event while also not having to spend time answering questions that have already been addressed. Building a library of video content for your stakeholders is also a great way to foster transparency and engagement.
Use recorded material from your event live stream as marketing collateral
Video of your live event stream may also be useful in edited form. Consider using parts of your live event stream video in an annual highlights reel or as part of your promotional materials for future live streams. Just because your event live stream is over doesn’t mean it can’t continue to contribute value to your organization, especially around marketing.
Start planning your next event
Even event live stream you present provides valuable data and experience towards making your next event live stream even better. Focus on the data you’ve gleaned from your experience, feedback, and analytics to craft future presentations and to let your audience know that live streamed events and communication will be something they can expect and participate in on a regular basis.
When It Comes to Event Live Streams, The Future Is Already Here
Being able to provide seamless, live, globally distributed live streams has moved from an emerging possibility to an essential part of corporate and institutional communication in just a few short years, and its utility and possibility is here to stay. If you’re looking to get started in event live streaming, or up your game, Kaltura can help.
Learn more about Kaltura virtual events!