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Planning for Live Streaming

Eric Norell over at Streaming Media Producers offers some great tips for preparing for a live streamed event:

Six Tips for Planning a Professional-Looking Live-Streamed Event

All of these steps are critical to ensuring the technical aspects of the event are smooth and as trouble-free as possible. You always want your viewers to notice your content, not your technology – if it works well, they won’t be talking about the stream. If it works poorly, it’s all they’ll talk about, assuming they stick around.

What he’s underlining here is the need for thorough and careful preparation. What he’s not talking about (since it’s not his focus) is the same preparation needs to go into managing the talent and content that will appear during the show. You can have the best technical setup on the planet, but if your principal presenters are not ready for prime time it doesn’t matter how smooth the stream was delivered.

Here are a few things to think about and prep long before the day of the event – as a video manager you may not have direct control over every aspect, but it’s important to get involved in the process as early as possible and make sure these things are considered. And if you don’t have the CEO’s ear, find someone who does and lay out the details for them, make sure they understand it and hope they communicate it to the on-camera talent.

  • Slides/graphics – often these are at least laid out long before the day of the event. In general slides used for web viewing should be clean and uncluttered, all the more so if they are a portion of the live event. If you’re not the one preparing them, get to whoever is and make sure they understand the value and power of clean, easy to read slides. Test the connections to the slide presentation if you will be switching between a video view and the slide source – is everything readable and the switches are made cleanly? The visuals and delivery of those visuals both matter, and this is something you can check early.
  • Microphones and camera placement – Mr. Norell covers much of this in his post, but from a content perspective this is important as well. Does your speaker turn his head a lot when he talks? Will this have a negative impact on the sound quality? Does she move around a lot when she speaks, requiring a very attentive camera person to follow them as they ping-pong around the stage? The presentation can be affected by a lot of idiosyncrasies and it’s important to be aware of these before the day of the event. One caveat: don’t crimp your speaker’s style – the goal here is to make them look great, and better to adjust the video team’s planning than to force the CEO into a less comfortable format.
  • Switching & graphics – again this is more technical and covered in the original article, but put some content thought into this as well. Will they distract from the messages or enhance them? Are you switching views just to switch views, or is something meaningful being conveyed? Don’t lose sight of the keys here – let your principals deliver the messages they’re here to deliver and use the technology to make that a great show.
  • Audience awareness – make sure both the technical team and the speakers are aware that there’s a virtual audience in the room with them. There can be a sensation sometimes, especially if there’s no live audience, to think they’re speaking to themselves. I was on a live event recently where the cameras were made live – with no sound – 5-10 minutes before the start of the event. We watched the participants chat among themselves as if they were off camera, which of course they weren’t. Keep your speakers aware of the crowd out there watching, and ask them to behave as if they were live until they’re told otherwise. Obviously everyone needs to watch their language and actions throughout the process, but even without expletives and other issues it’s best to act as if there are people in the room.

Again, much like the technical preparation, the content preparation is critical for the best live show possible.

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