Planning A Corporate Live-streaming Virtual Event
Last Updated: 4 months by Astral Studios Staff
A live-streaming virtual event is an online event where people interact with each other remotely, using computers and the Internet.
Virtual events are generally live-streamed over video using software like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
There are many kinds of live-streamed virtual events. These include webinars, online trade shows, virtual road shows, virtual job fairs, virtual conferences and hybrid events.
Live-streamed virtual events have a number of benefits over traditional in-person events. Many businesses have found that they prefer hosting virtual events to engage their target audience.
- Virtual events are a great way to keep your business relevant and “top of mind”
- Audience members and presenters can be located in any country.
- There are no social distancing issues, making virtual events a more accessible and safer alternative.
- Virtual events are quicker and easier to organize. There are a number of items which can be removed from your checklist – negotiating dates and times with the venue, arranging sound, lighting and decor, training staff to register and assist attendees.
- There can be considerable cost savings over traditional in-person events. Since everything can happen in a virtual space, there are no venue hire fees, no transport costs, no accommodation costs.
- Analytics – Virtual event platforms can capture, analyze and report all kinds of data about how your audience behaves. You can get detailed information about which sessions, topics and presenters were the most engaging. You can find out how much time attendees spent with each exhibitor, and how many people watched each sponsor ad. This gives you an incomparable way to measure ROI and event success.
- Personal experience – in a virtual conference, the speaker is effectively addressing each audience member directly.
- Content never dies.
- Content is digital, there are no printing costs.
- Content can be remastered and repurposed.
- Content can be disseminated over various platforms like YouTube, your company website, SlideShare and social media.
- Mobile event apps allow event planners to create custom mobile apps for their events. A mobile event app can contain all the information an attendee needs – schedules, exhibitor details, speaker bios, maps and more.
A live-streamed virtual conference can actually feel more personal than a physical conference as the speakers are directly speaking to every single attendee.
A hybrid event is a mixture of a live-streamed virtual event with a live in-person event.
Although lockdown measures are being relaxed, the pandemic is far from over. You can expect that when live events resume, they will be quite different.
Venues will probably be operating at lower capacities and social distancing rules will be in effect for some time. In addition, many people will be reluctant or unable to attend in-person events.
You can expect that hybrid events will be an important aspect of the transition back to live events. More than that, they offer advantages which will ensure their use well into the future.
Hybrid events allow access to people who have never been able to attend live events for financial or logistical reasons. This means that events in the future can be more diverse and inclusive,
The decrease in travel during the pandemic has led to a decrease in carbon emissions [https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-environment-impact-pollution-climate-quarantine-2020-4?IR=T], and hybrid events remove the need for most attendees to travel to the physical location of the event.
All of the decisions you make about your event are driven by your objectives. What is the purpose of the event? Who will be your audience? What will be the format of the event? What technology platform will you use?
The value of the virtual event for the attendee will be different from the value to the organization. But both are important.
Business goals might include lead generation, customer appreciation, brand awareness and immediate revenue generation.
You should consider how you will measure success. It’s easy to quantify revenue and lead generation. How will you measure goals like brand awareness and customer appreciation?
What do your attendees hope to accomplish? Some examples might be networking, education or training, celebration or entertainment.
Networking is one of the main reasons people go to in-person events. Providing some sort of opportunities for networking can be an important part of your online event’s success.
You need to decide exactly who you will be inviting to your live streamed event. Is the event aimed at staff members? Potential customers? People working in a particular field? How will you be informing them about your event?
Your objectives will help you to make sure that your stakeholders and your audience know what they can expect from your event.
Once you have established clear objectives for your virtual event, they will help you to create a content agenda. They will also help you to decide on the right format, audience, structure and hosts.
You can start building your content agenda by answering questions like these:
General questions about content:
- What is the purpose of this event?
- How is our organization expecting to benefit from the event?
- What audience are we targeting?
- What knowledge do we want our audience to gain?
- Are we going to share information, build brand awareness, or demonstrate our products?
Questions about how your content will be delivered:
- Will the event be presented live, pre-recorded, or a mixture of both?
- If it’s going to be a mixture, which sessions will be pre-recorded, and which sessions will be presented do live?
- What venue will you use for the presentations?
- If you don’t already have a suitable venue, will you be able to hire a studio?
- Will any of your speakers be presenting remotely?
- If they will, are you going to send them “speaker kits” with information and supplies they will be needing for their presentation?
If you already know who the intended audience is, you will know that you may need to adjust your content to suit.
On the other hand, if you already know what content you will be presenting, you should have an idea of the kind of audience you need to invite.
You should start by conducting a content audit to find out what content you already have available, and in what format.
With virtual events, it’s very important to keep the attendees engaged. You will probably need to “think outside the box” to do this.
One way of doing this is by switching up the format used to deliver your content.
For example, instead of a traditional PowerPoint presentation, maybe you can convey the same information with a short video or as an infographic? Changing formats may even increase audience engagement.
Thinking about your content in this way will also help you to decide what will be offered for download after your event.
You should consider these questions when you choose your content:
- How relevant is the content to the theme and purpose of your event?
- How valuable is the content going to be for your online audience?
- Do you have any evergreen content that can be freshened up and repurposed?
- Do you have any well-performing blog posts that can be collected into a report or e-book, or converted into a video?
- Is your audience going to be able to make use of the information in the short-to-medium term?
- Will you need to create content specifically for your event?
Some kinds of content keep people’s attention better than others.
Choosing the right combination of content types will help to make your event engaging. It will also create a library of content assets which you can reuse after the event.
Here are some content types to consider:
- Expert insight, such as interviews with industry innovators, visionaries and leaders
- Research publications, such as papers, studies and reports your audience will find interesting
- Client feedback — case studies and reviews that can also be provided as content downloads after the event
- Training on products or services for both internal and external audiences
- Existing video presentations which can be edited to make them shorter, punchier and more engaging
Some types of content are more effective at communicating with audiences than others.
At the same time, certain delivery methods are able to engage attendees better than others.
Inspiring content and the way the content is delivered are both important.
Remember that your presenters are not on a stage anymore. They are delivering their presentations on a screen in front of each audience member.
Where are good places to find inspiration?
Keep an eye out for interviews, news broadcasts, talk shows, thought leaders on sites like YouTube and influencer trends.
Resources like these can help you with the process of content selection.
There are three basic options for running a virtual event:
- Pre-recorded video
- Live-stream with pre-recorded video
Each format has its advantages and disadvantages.
Live-streaming: this is most similar to an in-person event. It provides immediacy, and can allow attendees to ask questions spontaneously. Technical issues can be a problem – if a speaker’s microphone doesn’t work, or if they are unable to connect, you need to have a backup plan. This format is great for panel discussions and keynote talks.
Pre-recorded video: This format removes much of the uncertainty, but it can take away from the live experience that people want. Speakers will need to prepare their presentations before the event takes place. They may be willing to do so, or they might also want to enjoy that live event stimulation.
Live-stream with pre-recorded video: Pre-recording the presentations and offering live Q&A provides the best of both worlds. This is perhaps the best solution. You can ensure that the speakers deliver their presentations with confidence.
A master of ceremonies can introduce each pre-recorded presentation and handle the live Q & A. Attendees are able to ask their questions live, as if they were actually at the event.
You may have access to a video studio, production equipment and capable technicians within your organization.
If not, you should consider using a professional video production company like Astral Studios to handle the technical aspects of your virtual event.
A professional production company will be able to produce a high-quality live-streamed event, and keep it running smoothly and on time.
They will also be able to create computer-generated backgrounds which can be digitally inserted behind your presenters using green-screen technology. This will give your studio presentations a distinctive and polished look.
If you’ll be using live-streaming, you have options such as Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and YouTube Live. Each of these has its own pros and cons.
If you want to use pre-recorded video, you can host it on platforms like YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia.
For simpler events like in-house training or an AGM, you may be able to send out a link by email and ask your attendees to log in at a pre-determined time.
For more complex events, such as virtual conferences and virtual exhibitions, you may need a virtual event platform.
Virtual event platforms can handle registration, payments, email marketing, multiple concurrent sessions, breakaways, attendee tracking and analytics.
A virtual event platform ties all the pieces together. It provides one central location where everyone can access the event sessions and find out the logistics of the event.
There is a dizzying selection of virtual event software available. Review aggregator Capterra currently lists 120 vendors. [https://www.capterra.com/virtual-event-software/?sortOrder=highest_rated]
Here are some considerations for choosing the best event management software for your situation:
- Data security. It’s important that the software you choose will handle your event data securely. You need to be sure that any personal data you collect is treated in accordance with your company’s Data Protection policies and the prevailing legislation.
- Integration with existing systems. You probably already have systems in place for email marketing, customer relationship management, corporate surveys and corporate video so on. Make sure that the event management software you choose is able to integrate with these platforms.
- Website building solutions. You may need to create an on-brand website for your event, or a separate section of your organization’s main website. Or you might only need a simple landing page where people can register or sign up for notifications.
- Email marketing. Your event management system should have pre-built email templates, bulk email sending capabilities and advanced email analytics.
- Event registration. Your chosen solution should have facilities for registration form customization, management of ticket categories. It should convey a flawless look and feel which supports your brand.
- Check-in and tracking.
- User friendliness.
- Mobile app.
- Surveys and analytics.
- Customer Service. Whichever solution you choose, you should make sure that their customer support is easy to reach, responsive, professional and friendly.
Your audience is watching remotely on a computer screen. To keep them engaged, your content will need to be interesting, captivating and fast-moving. That means you’re going to need a lot of content – mostly video content. It also means you’ll need to do some careful planning – down to the last second.
Whoever your audience is, they’ll know what a quality video production looks and sounds like. While they may be willing to forgive a few minor mishaps, there are some issues which are not as easy to overlook. Poor quality sound, bad lighting and lengthy delays will affect the impact of your event.
The more complicated your event, the more moving parts it’s going to have. You need to ensure that your budget is able to support your expectations.
It takes more time and money to create video content. Since a virtual event is based on video content, you need to be aware of the volume of videos you’re going to need.
It’s going to take quite a lot of effort to make your live-streamed event professional, engaging and polished. But it makes all the difference.
Here are some tips to help you produce a high quality virtual event:
- Introduce yourself. Before your main event starts, it’s a great idea to run an intro video to get your audience excited about what’s coming up. This could be a company promo or a short talk about the theme of the event from the CEO or the keynote speaker.
- Use an MC. A Master of Ceremonies will help to keep your event moving. This is important if your event is large or complex. An important part of a high-quality event is making sure that the energy level stays high and that it stays on time.
- Change things up. Make sure that you change presenters frequently. People become bored and disengage if they have to keep seeing the same face and hearing about the same subject for a long time.
- Switch camera angles. Look at how the news shows on TV do it. You shouldn’t force your audience to stare at the same background the whole time. Alternating between shots keeps your audience engaged.
- Use pre-rolls. A pre-roll is a pre-recorded video segment which could be a sponsor promotion, an advertisement, or a product introduction. You could show the audience unusual facts or trivia questions while they’re waiting. There will usually be some downtime while people are waiting for the next session to start. These are good times to screen adverts from your organization or from your sponsors.
- Keep the audience entertained. It’s important to keep your attendees engaged, because their engagement directly affects their enjoyment of the event. A good way to do this is by incorporating entertainment slots throughout the event. These allow people to have a break and unwind for a few minutes.
You should consider engaging a team of professionals and renting a studio. They will handle the lighting, sound and video cameras, and will make sure the right video footage gets played at the right moment.
Here are a few tips for making sure that your virtual events are successful.
Have Clear Objectives. The decisions you’ll be making should be driven by your objectives. This includes the purpose of your event, your list of attendees, the format of your event and the event platform you use. Your objectives are what you will use to measure the ultimate success of your event.
Know Your Audience. You should have a very clear idea of who you want to attend your event. Because there is no major cost involved, you can usually increase the number of invitees to a virtual event. You should make sure that the content of the event is going to be relevant for the expanded audience.
Start From Scratch. You and your team are event planning professionals. But that’s for in-person events. Virtual events are a different animal entirely. It’s a bad idea to think that you can simply switch the event planning strategy you’ve used in the past to a virtual reality. Virtual events are very different from in-person events. It’s time to re-boot your thinking and rework your strategy to adapt to the use of virtual events.
Choose the Right Technology. Live-streamed virtual events can only exist because of the technology they harness. There are multiple moving parts to even the simplest of virtual events. These include planning, pre-production, management and delivery. It’s vital that you use the right technical solutions for each part.
Repurpose What You Can. You’re going to start from square one and ensure that your event strategy is ready for virtual events. But that doesn’t stop you from reusing and repurposing parts of your in-person event arsenal. There are some assets you can re-use, like your email marketing list and your social media marketing network. You may also be able to re-work some of your content so that it’s better suited to virtual presentation.
Make Sure Your Attendees Are Ready. Virtual events are still quite new for many people. There’s a good chance that they might be unfamiliar with the technology requirements. This applies to both attendees and presenters – and maybe to exhibitors and sponsors as well. You should make sure that all your stakeholders have the necessary resources and technical support well before your event takes place. This will let them get the most out of your event without technical problems.
Content Is King. Your event depends on content. You won’t be able to lure attendees with sparkling pools and blackjack tables. That means that your speaker line-ups and session topics will need to be outstanding. Your presentation content needs to be created with bandwidth and file size in mind for online delivery. Don’t neglect the content for your online event.
Engagement Is Crucial. Engagement should be right at the top of your priority list. One of the reasons people attended in-person events was because of the networking opportunities they presented. That feature is much more limited with virtual events. You should do everything you can to encourage attendee engagement.
If you need advice or help with any aspect of your virtual event, such as planning, story-boarding, pre-production, scripting, video compilation and editing, green-screen studio recording or final live-streamed studio production, contact Astral Studios.