See if this sounds familiar: Meeting stakeholders want you to broadcast and capture the conference’s educational content, but there’s no budget for technology.
If you think that means putting plans for livestreaming content on hold, you’re mistaken. Using a mix of free, Web-based tools, anyone with a laptop and a wired Internet connection can create an ad-hoc production studio, broadcast education and archive it for future use. For less than $350, you can add a second camera and use encoding software to make professional-looking broadcasts. Don’t believe me? Check out this playlist from the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference PYM produced and streamed for about $300.
As media sponsors of the 2014 GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference in San Francisco, Plan Your Meetings put together a three-day calendar of virtual events that exponentially expanded the #GMIC2014 conference community while producing a motherlode of content that could be used year-round. This is how we did it.
Step 1: Identify streaming content
A virtual viewing audience bores easily. It also has more real-life distractions than on-site attendees. So it’s important to be selective in what you’ll broadcast and when. Once the conference agenda was set, we reviewed it to identify which sessions would be best to stream live.
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Step 2: Determine the best delivery method
The way the room is set, the number of audiovisual techs present and the type of camera(s) used dictate the kind of hybrid educational platform needed for each session. Because we had an external camera, we decided to broadcast most of the content via YouTube Live. Doing so required an encoder, so we bought Wirecast for YouTube ($299), which let us create and manage multiple camera feeds with different title cards and sponsor logos. When in-room attendees went into group work, we switched from the external camera to the webcam so we could speak directly to virtual viewers. The only other piece of equipment we needed was a FireWire cable to connect the camera to our laptop ($25).
On Day 2, we did a Hangout on Air session with virtual viewers. Participants were culled from among the most frequent Twitter users from the opening-night broadcast. We sent them direct messages asking if they’d like to share their thoughts. We broadcast that conversation while in-room attendees were in small group discussions. If you need tips for broadcasting HOAs, read this.
RELATED STORY: Download the live-streaming checklist
Step 3: Create an engagement strategy
Don’t forget that there will be times during the broadcast where you might have holes, whether it’s someone taking the stage, a delay in the start time or a break for small group discussions. These are fantastic opportunities to interview speakers, sponsors or members of the in-room audience and give virtual viewers behind-the-scenes insight.
We scheduled time before, during and after each broadcasts to connect directly with our virtual viewers, who dubbed themselves our #happyhybrids. Guest interviewees would join us on the tech platform while we broadcast, so whenever there was a lag, we could switch to a webcam view and fill that space. Emcees and speakers were coached to break frequently to ask what the virtual audience was saying. We had a “voice of God” mic in the back of the room that let us share their questions and comments with the in-room audience.
We used the #GMIC2014 hashtag to engage virtual viewers, to find out how many people we were reaching with our conference content (through tweetreach.com) and to create daily multimedia recaps using storify.com. The most influential tweeters (on-site and virtual) received free admission to next year’s conference.
We also had a document online at Google Drive (ez.com/GMICNotes) that anyone with the link could edit. This way, virtual and in-room participants could contribute to notes on the sessions. When those on-site were doing group work but nothing was being broadcast, virtual viewers could go to the document and see a transcript of what we were discussing in real time.
Post-show, we helped event organizers and the association management company figure out how to use the notes, video and other content to chart a strategy for member engagement and raise awareness of GMIC and its sustainability message.
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