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How to Use Virtual Streaming for Remote Events [2021 Update]

By Emily Krings

25 Min Read

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Emily Krings

Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

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      Over the past few years, remote events have grown quite popular. Companies and organizations are using them to share information and build communities with people around the world.

      Recent situations have proven the value of virtual event streaming. The ability to live stream conferences, meetings, webinars, and even events for leisure has come in handy during orders to “social distance” that were put in place as a result of the coronavirus.

      Many organizations are dodging issues by live streaming their events so that people can attend from home.

      Today, we’re going to talk about the ins and outs of virtual streaming, live streaming software, and hardware that will come in handy, and how to plan a virtual event of your own. We will also discuss whether Zoom is good for live streaming and what the difference is between virtual and live events.

      Table of Contents

      • What is a Virtual Event?
      • What is the Difference Between Virtual and Live Streaming?
      • Benefits of Hosting Virtual Events
      • How Does Virtual Event Streaming Work?
      • 3 Virtual Conference Broadcasting Options
      • How to Use Virtual Streaming for Hosting Events
      • Bonus: Host a Virtual Holiday Event Online
      • Conclusion

      What is a Virtual Event?

      What is a Virtual Event
      Webinars, digital conferences, corporate meetings, training sessions, and entertainment events can all be conducted virtually.

      Virtual events are events that are live streamed for people to take part in and watch from any location. Typically, this is made possible by the internet. 

      With the proper live streaming platform, equipment, and preparation, it is possible to live stream any type of event. However, many event planners are opting to host events that are strictly virtual because they come with a slew of benefits.

      Some popular examples of virtual events include webinars, virtual conferences, and online classes. Many corporate events are live streamed in order to reach team members around the world.

      It is also normal for public figures to live stream more private events, such as weddings, funerals, and other memorial services.

      What is the Difference Between Virtual and Live Event Streaming?

      Virtual streaming and live streaming go hand in hand. The two are so similar that they are almost used interchangeably. However, “virtual event” has a connotation that implies that it is more interactive like a real event would be, as opposed to a live stream where participants are usually just watching the event play out.

      Virtual can mean live since virtual events are live streamed, but the interactive elements are what really differentiate the two.

      The interactive aspect can be brought in with a live chat thread that allows participants to weigh in, as questions, or mingle. It could also be brought in with peer-to-peer conferencing technology that basically allows attendees to join via video chat.

      In the professional world, Q&A sessions are a popular way to involve the audience and make a virtual event feel more personal and interactive.

      Benefits of Virtual Event Streaming

      Hosting remote events instead of having guests gather in real life has several live streaming benefits.

      First and foremost, virtual streaming is extremely cost-effective for all parties involved. There is no need to rent out a venue and all of the vendors necessary to put on a top-notch event. This saves you thousands of dollars and allows you to sell tickets for less.

      Guests can attend virtual events from anywhere in the world, as long as they have wifi. Since they don’t have to travel to the event, they save money on airfare, accommodations, and other travel-related costs.

      Virtual live stream events are an absolute treasure when natural disasters, pandemics, and other situations pop up that would otherwise cancel your event. You can easily move your event online so that viewers can still attend. This way, your hard work, and preparation don’t go to waste, and you don’t have to worry about rescheduling or issuing refunds.

      Another benefit of virtual streaming events is that they can be auto-archived and played back over again, as long as you have the proper hosting software. If a viewer misses a bit of information, they can go back and watch it again at their leisure.

      How Does Virtual Event Streaming Work?

      virtual broadcast
      Virtual event streams can be thought of as video chatting with hundreds of colleagues. 

      Imagine hopping on a Zoom or Skype call with some associates. You can talk to them in real-time with video chat. Now, imagine “video chatting” to hundreds or thousands of people. Virtual event streaming works similarly to that. 

      You choose or create a site where people will sign in to see you speak. Depending on the portal, viewers may be able to interact in a chat room or discussion board.

      Once you have your portal set up and everybody has the invite links, you get in front of the camera and present your content.

      Just like an event that you’d host in person, you would market and sell tickets ahead of time. Presenters prepare and rehearse their content, but instead of talking to a room full of people, they talk to a camera.

      3 Virtual Conference Broadcasting Options

      There are three popular ways to go when broadcasting your virtual event.

      1. Stream the event in real-time
      2. Stream it with a slight delay
      3. Record the stream and upload at a later time

      When you stream an event in real-time, people can interact and weigh in. This makes Q&A sessions possible. These sorts of things make the event feel more real and engaging.

      However, streaming live conferences in real-time gives you no room to correct mistakes. If something embarrassing or inappropriate happens, there is no time to censor it. That’s where low latency streaming or a live stream delay comes into play. This gives you a happy medium. Viewers can still interact, but you have the ability to censor any slip-ups.

      When you record the stream to be watched at a later time, this can take away from the “realness” of a virtual event. 

      We recommend streaming live and uploading the video for playback at a later time. This way, viewers can take part in the event and watch it later at their leisure.

      How to Use Virtual Streaming for Hosting Events

      Streaming events live is pretty simple as long as you prepare beforehand. This means choosing the appropriate software and hardware, preparing your content, and doing trial runs.

      Ideally, this would be planned at least a few weeks in advance in order to make the process more enjoyable and less stressful for the planners. However, a last-minute shift from an in-person event to a virtual event is totally possible.

      Here are six steps to make your virtual event a success.

      1. Choose the Appropriate Video Hosting Software

      There are several free, consumer-grade platforms on the internet. Unfortunately, these have limited capabilities when it comes to security, monetization, white-labeling, and other aspects that contribute to the all-around professionalism of your content.

      In order to host a top-notch virtual event, you need to invest in a professional video hosting software solution. The features you should gravitate towards depending on your goals. 

      Here are a few types to consider.

      What is a Video Hosting Platform?

      Video hosting platform
      A professional video hosting platform will help boost your virtual stream.

      A video hosting platform is exactly what it sounds like: a place to host videos. Online video platforms, like Dacast, are built to help you broadcast videos on your own website.

      Video hosting managers provide alternatives to Youtube that are completely white-labeled and give you total control over your content. 

      If your goal is to self-host video live stream events, you have to make sure the platform that you choose has live streaming capabilities. Make sure you invest in a package that can withstand the volume of viewers you expect to join your virtual event.

      You also want to check that your online video hosting has the privacy and security features that you need for your event. Some events are invite-only and others are open to the public. This all comes down to personal preference, but it is something to think about when choosing a video hosting platform.

      Security is a priority when you broadcast password-protected private events. Learn more about the features of a secure OVP to ensure your event reaches your desired audience.

      What is OTT (Over-the-Top)?

      At this point in time, most online video platforms use over-the-top (OTT) technology to broadcast video content. When you host your virtual stream, you will likely tap into the tools that are built into your online OTT hosting platform of choice.

      OTT streaming services use the internet to bring the video to the consumers rather than cables, satellite dishes, or rabbit ears. 

      Netflix, Hulu, and other major streaming services use OTT solutions. Video communication services, such as Skype and Zoom, also use OTT.

      What is a Video on Demand (VOD)?

      A video on demand, which is often shortened to VOD, allows users to stream videos at their own convenience. VOD is not for live streaming, but rather to host the video after it has been recorded.

      Platforms with VOD hosting capabilities are a great tool if you’re hosting a virtual streaming event because they allow you to upload the stream for viewers who either missed the event as it aired or who wish to watch it again.

      Private Video Hosting

      The nature of virtual streaming calls for enhanced security. Virtual events typically allow for participation from the audience, whether it be in a chat thread or a video conference. These events are also monetized, which means that your OVP is storing sensitive information.

      Choosing a private video hosting platform with advanced security features is a must. Password protection is good for the first line of defense, but advanced features like DRM, tokenized security, domain restrictions, and IP restrictions will limit your virtual attendance to qualified viewers only. 

      These video delivery tools also will help you to keep the files and data on your OVP safe from hackers and people with poor intentions.

      Top Video Hosting Platforms

      Here are a few highly recommended video hosting services with live streaming platforms.

      1. Dacast
      2. Wistia
      3. IBM Cloud Video
      4. Linkedin Live
      5. Brightcove
      6. Kaltura
      7. Vidyard
      8. JWPlayer
      9. Livestream
      10. Panopto
      11. SproutVideo
      12. Hippo Video
      13. Cincopa
      14. Muvi
      15. DailyMotion
      16. Vimeo Live
      17. YouTube Live
      18. Loom

      Pay close attention to the features that each has. Choose the best professional hosting platform that fits the needs of the virtual streaming events that you plan to host.

      2. Invest in the Right Equipment

      Event Streaming equipment
      Professional equipment is a must for the highest quality live streaming.

      Your choice of equipment can make or break the quality of your virtual event. Investing in top-of-the-line equipment is worth it, especially if you plan on hosting multiple virtual conferences and events down the road.

      Here are a few pieces of live streaming equipment that you need to host an amazing virtual event:

      No matter your live streaming budget, basic lighting equipment, and tripods are fine, but when it comes to your video capturing device and encoding hardware, prepare to spend a little extra.

      This equipment can be used more than once, so you will see a nice return on your investment if you are hosting paid virtual events from time to time.

      3. Plan Your Content and User Experience

      Planning content for a virtual event is a lot like planning content for a real-life event. You choose speakers who create workshops or presentations.

      You can orchestrate your event so that it is one flowing movement with one speaker after another, or you can have sessions that mirror in-person conferences where there is a break between speakers.

      Panels and Q&As are also possible with virtual events. They are great for making your virtual event more engaging. You just have to let attendees know how questions should be submitted beforehand.

      In order to avoid confusion amongst your viewers, create digital pamphlets with active links to the schedule and each session. This way nobody is clicking frantically to find where the video is being broadcasted.

      Set up chat rooms or discussion boards that can hold the capacity of your viewers so that they can talk about what is going on in the presentation.

      Goodevent is a great app that allows users to ask the presenters questions. It also allows you to build a profile and engage with others in attendance, which is very helpful for networking and building relationships with other attendees.

      4. Run Through the Event Beforehand 

      Go through the entire event before the day that it will go live. Test all of your equipment and software. Also, practice your video presentation before it’s time to go on. If you are using a slideshow, check for typos and mistakes.

      If something is only “kind of” working during your trial run, make sure you have multiple backup options. Prepare for every worst-case scenario.

      Also, check the battery lives of all equipment. Set up extension cords or prepare backup batteries where necessary. 

      5. Broadcast Your Virtual Streaming Event

      Once you’ve done all of your preparations and your guests are starting to log in, it is time to kick off your virtual event.

      There are a few last-minute things you should do right before crunch time.

      • Wear a shirt without patterns
      • Use the restroom
      • Bring a drink (e.g. a water bottle) to the filming area
      • Do a last-minute lighting check
      • Make sure everything is plugged in
      • Check the mic

      One thing to keep in mind is that confidence is key. Confidence will single-handedly improve the quality of your presentation.

      Try to enjoy the event as much as possible. If the event was in real life, you’d be able to feel the energy of the audience from the stage. Picture all of the people who are eager to watch you speak. 

      After the stream has ended, make sure to save the video. Even if you don’t plan to upload it for viewers to playback at a later time, it is good to have access to it so that you can watch through when planning for your next virtual streaming event.

      6. Live Stream On Zoom with a Professional Video Platform

      zoom virtual events platform
      Zoom is a video conferencing service widely used by companies and organizations for remote and virtual meetings.

      Video conferencing in general has made it easier for people to work from home and host remote meetings. In recent months, Zoom live streaming and other conferencing tools have been essential for keeping some sense of normalcy in business operations.

      Many people wonder if Zoom is good for live streaming. However, there is not one single answer to this question. Zoom alone has some limitations, but when it is integrated with a professional video platform, it is a powerful tool for peer-to-peer conferencing. This combination can be ideal for virtual event streaming.

      Zoom is connected to the OVP as a source, just like a camera, mixer, or microphone would. That feed is then streamed to anywhere that you’ve embedded your Dacast video player. Unfortunately, some limitations on Zoom have left professionals searching for the solution that makes the most sense for their web conferencing needs, and most online video platforms do not support peer-to-peer conferencing, which is essentially a live chat feature.

      Zoom integrations on professional online video platforms (OVPs), like Dacast, have given these businesses and educators the best of both worlds. This is particularly valuable in situations where your goal is to share a meeting or conversation with a public audience. 

      When you host a virtual stream on a Zoom conference, you’re broadcasting a conversation between two or more people, or you’re hosting an event that may require some real-time participation from people in the audience.

      How to Live Stream on Zoom with Dacast

      Let’s take a look at how to live stream a Zoom virtual meeting via Dacast.

      Please note that this tutorial requires you to have a  Zoom Pro, Business, Education, or Enterprise account to access the “Custom Live Streaming Service” Zoom feature.

      Step 1: Create Your Dacast Live Stream

      Log in to your Dacast account, and go to the “Live Stream” section on the left-side vertical menu. Click “Create Live Stream” on the right side of your screen. Enter a stream name, then select the type of stream. Click “Create”:

      Your live stream should now appear in your live streams list. You can manage the stream by clicking the “Edit” icon on the right side.

      Step 2: Enable “Live on Custom Live Streaming Service” 

      Log in to your Zoom account. On the vertical menu to the left navigate to Admin. Click “Account Management” then “Account Settings.” 

      In the section “In Meeting (Advanced)” under the meeting tab, turn on the option “Allow Live Streaming Meetings,” and check the sub-option “Custom Live Streaming Service”:

      Dacast - Zoom live streaming - enable live stream

      Update the instructions so that the meeting organizer can configure the required settings when scheduling the meeting. You can find these instructions in your Dacast account.  

      Edit the live channel you want to use to stream the Zoom meeting. Under the “General” tab, click “Encoder Setup,” and use the copy icon to copy and paste the required values into your Zoom account:

      Make sure to use the following format: 

      Stream URL: rtmp://{Username}:{Password}@{Server (without rtmp://)}

      Stream key: {Stream Key}

      Live streaming page URL: you can use your website URL or the Share Link in the General tab of the live stream.

      This is what it should look like:

      Zoom Set Up Dacast Example

      Step 3: Set Up Your Zoom Custom Live Streaming Meeting 

      On your Zoom account, click “Meetings” then “Schedule a New Meeting.” Enter the required information, and click “Save” to display advanced options:

      At the bottom of the page, click the “Live Streaming” tab. Then, click the “Configure Live Stream Settings” link:

      Zoom live streaming - Zoom Meeting Launch

      Apply the information in the green box in accordance with the format we provided in Step 2:

      Dacast - Zoom live streaming - configure the custom live stream

      Click “Save” to save your live streaming settings. Now, the host will be able to live stream this meeting without having to add these settings after the beginning of the event.

      Step 4: Start Streaming 

      On your Dacast account, make sure that the live stream used for the meeting is set to “Online”:

      zoom live stream online

      Open the Zoom application or web portal, and start your meeting. At the bottom of the Zoom window, click the “•••” icon and select “Live on Custom Live Streaming Service.” 

      If the Streaming URL, Streaming key, and Streaming page URL have not been entered at this point, Zoom will open a window where you can paste these values from the Encoder Setup section of your Dacast live stream. 

      You are now ready to live stream your Zoom meeting straight to your website via Dacast.

      Bonus: Host a Virtual Holiday Event Online

      holiday live streams
      Spread some holiday cheer by hosting a virtual holiday live stream when you cannot attend in person.

      The holiday season is one that particularly benefits from virtual streaming. Organizations like grade schools and churches can host virtual streaming events, such as Christmas programs, pageants, concerts, sing-alongs, and other special ceremonies to open attendance and participation for those who wish to join but can’t be there in person.

      Live streaming makes it possible for people to tune in from anywhere in the world so that they don’t miss out on the events that mean the most. For example, if a child is part of a Christmas performance in Chicago, his grandparents in Oregon can tune in virtually so they don’t have to miss out.

      Web conferencing holiday parties will help friends and co-workers come together to celebrate. Light-up nights, New Year’s countdowns, Santa sightings, and other cheerful events can also easily be streamed.

      For more information on hosting a virtual Christmas event, we recommend checking out our dedicated virtual holiday event streaming guide.

      Conclusion

      If you are in the position where you have to quickly shift from hosting an event at a physical location to hosting a virtual streaming event, do not fret. It is completely doable. Please remember that the user experience will depend greatly on the quality of the equipment and programs you use. 

      With the proper preparation, you are setting yourself up for the most successful virtual event possible. We wish you luck on your virtual streaming, and we are here to help if you need any additional streaming support.

      Looking for a virtual events platform to host your next webinar, conference, or training session? Dacast has an innovative solution for you. To get started, we encourage you to take advantage of Dacast’s 30-day risk-free trial.

      GET STARTED FOR FREE

      For exclusive offers and regular live streaming tips, you’re also welcome to join our LinkedIn group. Additionally, feel free to contact our team with specific questions; we’re here to help!

      Lastly, do you have further questions, thoughts, or feedback about this article? If you do, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and we will get back to you.

      Thanks for reading, and good luck with your virtual events.

      author avatar

      Emily Krings

      Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

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