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 events. 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 events, live streaming hardware, and software that will come in handy and how to plan a virtual event of your own.
Table of Contents
- What is a Virtual Event?
- Benefits of Hosting Virtual Events
- How Does Streaming Live Events Work?
- 3 Virtual Conference Broadcasting Options
- How to Live Stream a Virtual Event
- Bonus: Host a Holiday Event Online Virtually
What is a Virtual Event?
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 software, 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.
It is also normal for public figures to live stream more personal events, such as weddings, funerals, and other memorial services.
Benefits of Hosting Virtual Events
Hosting remote events instead of having guests gather in real life has several benefits.
First and foremost, it 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 events are an absolute treasure when natural disasters, epidemics, 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 live stream events is that they can be saved 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 Streaming Live Events Work?
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. Live streaming events 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 you 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.
- Stream the event in real-time
- Stream it with a slight delay
- Record the stream and upload at a later time
Each has unique benefits, but the first two options are the most popular.
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 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 streaming with a little bit of latency—or 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 Livestream a Virtual Event
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 five steps to take to live stream your virtual event.
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 streaming solution. The features you should gravitate towards depending on your goals.
Here are a few types to consider.
What is a Video Hosting Manager?
A video hosting manager 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 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 platform 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 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) services to broadcast video content. When you live stream your virtual event, you will likely use the OTT services that are built into your online video 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. 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 are a great tool if you’re hosting a virtual 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.
Top Video Hosting Platforms
Here are a few highly recommended video hosting services with live streaming platforms.
Pay close attention to the features that each has. Choose the hosting platform that fits the needs of the virtual events that you plan to host.
2. Invest in the Right Equipment
The quality of your equipment can make or break the quality of your virtual event. Making the investment 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:
- Professional-grade camera
- Video card
- Encoding hardware
- Audio capturing equipment (lapel mics are ideal)
- Lighting equipment (if necessary for recording space)
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 definitely 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 actually 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.
Practice your presentation before it goes live. 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 where necessary.
5. Stream Your Virtual 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 event.
Bonus: Host a Holiday Event Online Virtually
As the holidays approach, the demand for live streaming increases. This is especially true this year since many businesses and organizations are practicing social distancing in order to control the spread of COVID-19.
It is common for organizations like grade schools and churches to live stream Christmas pageants, concerts, sing-alongs, and other special ceremonies during the holiday season.
This year, businesses and cities are hopping on this trend to bring their festivities to the members of their communities in the comfort of their homes.
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.
If you are in the position where you have to quickly shift from hosting an event at a physical location to hosting a virtual conference or 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 event, 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.
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.