In the Spotlight – Virtual Meetings and Live Streaming Events
Over the past few weeks my conversation with you has been how to communicate effectively in this Business as Un-usual ‘virtual meetings’ world. Prior to 2020 we’ve all been using some form of teleconferencing though it was not our primary method of interaction.
Fast forwards to today, communicating virtually has become part of our daily lives. But how do you improve this experience and how can you communicate professionally for larger events such as product launches, hybrid conferences or key meetings like AGM’s or town halls where the production and technical requirements go beyond your experience of running a Zoom meeting?
Sit tight, help is on the way. In this week’s In-the-Spotlight we’re tapping the virtual meetings and live streaming expertise of Media Technology Director, John Wigglesworth. And yes, if you’re wondering, that’s how I acquired my surname.
In this feature John will look at how to improve your teleconferencing experiences, how you can take your virtual meetings to the next level and take a look at what exists beyond the familiar platforms such as Meet, Skype, Teams, WebEx and Zoom.
John’s spotlight comments:
In March I was scheduled to be in Las Vegas at the global media technology show, NAB, meeting suppliers, clients, colleagues, and peers in my industry. Obviously, the show was cancelled, and the jury is out as to whether large events like this will ever return.
The event was rapidly replaced with an onslaught of invites to webinars, seminars, virtual events, and online happy hours from the exhibitors. I’ve logged into a few, some were expensively produced and were useful but, for an industry based around delivering interesting, concise information and making people look good on camera, there were some poor experiences and I did not hang around for long. I’m sure I was not alone, and their engagement levels were low. Were these virtual events a good investment for these companies? I’m not sure.
Chances are you’ve been on conference calls where the first ten minutes are interrupted by people stumbling in late with distorted audio, poor or no video and bad internet connections which could be a real turn off if you’ve been invited as a guest.
Imagine an event where everyone on the screen turns up early, knows how to manage their audio, has great looking video and their connection is stable – it would be a refreshing change which will enhance the interaction and result in higher engagement.
If you’re looking for some tips on how to improve your remote presenting experience download my guide to Optimising your Virtual Events Experience.
Equally, your organisation may have planned events locally or regionally for internal and external stakeholders, peers or paid participants which are now cancelled. Yet you still need to get your message out there and keep people engaged. The big question everyone is asking, how can I conduct a virtual meeting or a live streaming event in a professional manner?
In my role as media technology specialist, I help companies understand the capabilities and limitations of their existing platforms, manage the event production, and develop solutions to deliver better, more concise presentations and meetings.
Fundamentally it’s about taking away their worries about the tech and helping them to focus on looking good! As in the real world, great events don’t just happen, it takes take time and effort to professionally produce them.
Five Ways to Enhance Virtual Presentations:
Planning – When planning an event first consider what you want your message to achieve before looking into the platform. Key things to consider include –
- Audience – How many attendees and where are they located, what devices are they using?
- Security – Is the information you are delivering confidential; do you need to know exactly who is watching?
- Production – How many presenters, where are they located, who needs to use powerpoint, videos, white-boarding, or screen sharing, and do you have enough people who can help you prepare content and manage the attendees and event logistics?
- Interactivity – Do you want the presenters to interact, will you have live audience Q&A, chat-based Q&A or Polling, do you need transcription and translations?
Platform – All of these questions inform the decision about which platform to use. There are a plethora of conferencing, webcasting, and learning tools out there and they are all pitching themselves as a solution to your new problems. You might need to combine several platforms and tools, or your company might already have platforms you have to use therefore you need to look at how to work around the limitations or augment the systems with other tools.
Presentation – Many people dream of their presentations being like an Apple or Google product launch but don’t realise what it takes to get there. Then they turn up with a presentation deck dense with animated charts, flying logos, multiple bulleted lists, and legal disclaimers. It’s not a presentation, it’s their script, and it doesn’t help get their message across. However, this is not the end of the world, and it can even be a good starting point if you are prepared to put in some work.
I’ve been extolling the Beyond Bullets and Slide:ology approaches for a long time and the key is simplify things – Take all your bullets and copy them into the notes section. Replace each slide with an appropriate image and one line of text in 40-point font – if it doesn’t fit – edit it, it’s too long. Trust me, if you combine these techniques with adequate rehearsals people will remember your message.
Preparation & Proficiency – Now you’ve got all the elements together to deliver and manage a virtual event you need to run practice sessions with all the participants, so everyone knows what is happening and when. A reasonable guideline is you need to allow four to five times the length of the event for testing, rehearsals, and revisions.
- Connect individually with each remote presenter and work on their equipment and environment setup
- A first ‘stumble through’ with everyone online to talk through the event rundown and get familiar with the platform tools
- Initial rehearsals – Walk through each section and work on the transitions between them. Also plan contingencies if things go wrong
- Dress Rehearsal – Run a full test event to a limited audience and then review and provide feedback
Hybrid Experiences – My key reason for attending the NAB show in Las Vegas was to renew connections, meet new people and expand my opportunity base. This generally does not happen in the conference hall but on the show floor, during the session breaks and at the social events and this interaction is not easily replicated in the virtual world. Most current platforms run out of steam after text-based apps such as Q&A, messaging, strange virtual trade show booths, and vaguely intrusive matching services.
There’s a new generation of platforms which aim to facilitate the one-to-one interactions between attendees. They’re a bit of a mashup between Zoom for the video conferencing and break-outs, Tinder for setting up ‘dates’ with other attendees and Twitter to keep the conversations going. I’ve reviewed three systems – Run The World, Hopin and Remo.
They all have slightly different approaches and they offer some interesting tools though the jury is still out on whether it improves the experience. Like all events it requires a lot of preparation to create a useful and memorable experience and to build and sustain the event community. Equally, they’re all a bit pricey and currently demand is high so it may be sometime before they can scale the platform and event support to reliably serve Asian clients.
About John Wigglesworth
John Wigglesworth has been in the Asian media technology industry for over 30 years. In a previous life he was involved in launching major TV networks in Asia including StarTV, MTV, Nickelodeon and Discovery. For the last seven years, he moved into live streaming productions for events large and small in the corporate, entertainment and sports sectors. His clients include YouTube FanFest, Google, Amazon Web Services, Facebook, Dentsu, Branded.live, Twitch.tv and several major financial services companies.
John currently works with clients locally and internationally producing satellite events and securely interconnecting them for participants who are not able to travel out of country. These events are live streamed directly to participants mobile devices at home or in their offices.
For more information on taking your virtual meetings and live streaming events to the next level, John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget to download your copy on Optimising your Virtual Events Experience.