As anyone in the event industry knows, no amount of planning can predict the weather, an artist cancellation, or – as we’re currently dealing with – a global pandemic. But adapting to a digital-first mindset is now essential for events professionals. Luckily, online events have the potential to be just as valuable to attendees as their in-person counterparts. And with a variety of digital formatting options available, you can easily pivot to meet any given challenge.

From virtual summits to webinar hosting, online events are hugely versatile. You can use them to educate or as a marketing and sales tool for your company. But to exceed audiences’ expectations, online events need just as much planning as live ones, whether that’s investing in the right tech or brushing up your presentation skills. Read on to find out how to livestream successfully.

1. Choose your event type

A wide range of events transfer well from the live to online space. A concert or performance livestream, for example, is perfect for the digital experience, as it makes online guests feel like they’re part of the live action. Events that are based around discussion and thought leadership, like a forum on closing the gender pay gap, could add similar value in an online format. It’s even possible to host online arts and crafts workshops by selling craft packs beforehand, so people already have all the materials they’ll need to take part.

Don’t worry about losing the benefits of networking. By encouraging guests to engage in the comments and chat section, you can provide a space for people to interact, share their thoughts, and discuss the event in real time.

2. Use a livestreaming platform

There’s more than one way to livestream. If you’d like to display your venue’s setup and background – or feature a performer – for a concert or music event, a video streaming service like YouTube or Facebook Live works well.

For conferences or panel discussions that prioritise event-goer participation, consider Zoom or Vimeo. They allow you to interact with attendees through chat boxes, Q&A features, and polls.

3. Invest in great equipment

Part of feeling like you’re at an event is having a seamless audio and visual experience. Having the right kit ensures things run as smoothly as possible. Here are a few things to check before going ahead:

  • Test your video and audio before your event. That way, you’ll be able to fix any issues before they impact your guest experience.
  • Use a good-quality camera. The camera on your computer will get the job done, but it’s important to remember your audience. People attend live events and gatherings for the rich, immersive experiences they offer. So invest in a decent camera to ensure your presence on their screens is sharp and clear. Look for a device that can capture and stream video in a high quality like HD or 4K, and ensure optimum audio by selecting a camera that allows you to connect an external microphone. If filming yourself, you may also want to consider a camcorder-type setup with a second display that allows you to see whether you’re in the frame.
  • Make sure your connection is solid. It’s far from ideal if patchy WiFi means your live music set cuts out every three minutes. A solid wired internet connection will usually provide the best quality, but reliable and strong WiFi can also work. If you can, test your signal with a practice call before the real event.

4. Focus on audio quality

Speaking of audio, your audience will need to be able to hear you and your speakers or performers clearly. In fact, crisp sound can really elevate the quality of the content you’re delivering and ensure an immersive experience for your virtual guests.

Try broadcasting live or pre-recorded content via easy-to-use software like Mixlr. And if you have the budget, why not hire a sound engineer to oversee your audio? They can take care of the sound quality, while you concentrate on presenting.

A premium microphone will also take your event up a notch. Dynamic web microphones are an affordable option that reduce background noise, while condenser microphones create a richer result that’s ideal for music events.

5. Publish clear community guidelines

Think about how you can make your event as accessible as possible. Create a clear and concise event page that takes prospective guests through the joining instructions and any accessible elements such as sign language interpreters.

It’s important to communicate safety measures before your event, too. This is your way to make clear the kind of behaviour you will and won’t accept to make the event enjoyable for everyone.

6. Have an energetic opening

With online events, it’s important to start strong in the absence of a live atmosphere and build up energy from the very beginning. Consider using a well-produced warm-up video that’s slick, engaging, and positive. Not only will this draw attendees into your event, but it’ll also help you remain focused and motivated.

The sizzle reel created by the people behind the All Black Everything Summit uses an upbeat soundtrack and relatable clips to introduce guests to the many topics and speakers. Meanwhile, the Circle of Sisters incorporated simple animations and memorable buzzwords to grab attention for their virtual event.

7. Improve your presentation skills

Working with a live audience is different from engaging digital guests. You can’t control their physical environment, so will need to work harder to keep their focus on you. Use these tactics to keep attendees’ attention:

  • Look at the camera. This will mimic the in-person feeling of eye contact, allowing your audience to feel like you’re really talking to them. (If you’re struggling, stick a colourful post-it note next to the camera as a reminder.) You can even hide your own face from the screen to minimise distraction.
  • Speak slowly. It might be tempting to rush through materials as quickly as possible, but your message will be more effective if you present slowly and purposefully.
  • Use engagement tools. When appropriate, incorporate screen sharing, poll your attendees, and have Q&A sessions with the help of the chat window.

8. Pick the perfect ticketing strategy

When it comes to ticketing for virtual events, attendees are looking for options. Remove financial obstacles by including a free or pay-what-you-will ticket choice, and give guests the chance to enjoy a VIP experience by selling add-ons like gift bags.

To consistently sell various ticket types, it’s key to nail your ticket descriptions. Explain clearly and concisely what each ticket offers, and don’t forget to shine by using your brand’s specific tone of voice and personality.

9. Engage your audience

During online events, it’s key to have clear communication with your audience before, during, and after.

If your live event has gone virtual, make sure to communicate all relevant changes to your attendees as soon as possible. During the event itself, make use of comment boxes, breakout rooms, and screen-sharing options to keep your audience engaged. Having Q&A questions at the end of the event is a great way to make things interactive.

And if your event is set to run all day, ensure you give attendees plenty of breaks. Schedule five-minute meditation sessions every hour or so (and use the same idea when running in-person events, too).

Afterwards, keep up the communication by sending out a survey or event evaluation. This crucial feedback can let you know what attendees enjoyed and how you can improve next time.

Future-proof your event

Right now, it’s more important than ever to be adaptable. Although virtual events can be easier to host than in-person alternatives, they still require plenty of planning. With these tips, you can perfect your online event offering and give attendees an experience to remember.

Use our advanced features and online event planning tools to help your event achieve its goals.

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