Confessions of an Events Planner: Let’s Get Streaming

It’s no secret that the way we deliver and attend events has drastically changed over the course of 2020 (cheers COVID-19).  Now while it would be a lot easier to just pack up and say “oh well, no events for 2020,” that is definitely NOT our only option!  If anything, COVID-19 has challenged us event managers to become more creative in the ways we deliver traditional events and from where I am standing, I fully believe we are up for the challenge, after all if anyone is good at thinking on their feet it is us!

So how do wo do it? Well the first and possibly most obvious answer is to take your events online!  While relying solely on technology to deliver your event can be scary, it is also the most effective solution in our current climate.  Following organisations such as Business Chicks, AMET SIRA and Cultivating Leadership, proving it is possible to take your events online via streaming platforms.  Still not sure if streaming your event is the right option for you?  Well have no fear, I am here to walk you through it.

FIRSTLY, WHAT IS LIVE STREAMING?

Similar to Facebook or Youtube Live in theory, live streaming an event allows audiences to access the event content via a secure online platform from anywhere in the world.  Attendees can log on at any time during the event duration and potentially (depending on the platform you are using), have access to recordings post event.

SO WHY WOULD I LIVE STREAM MY EVENT?

First and foremost, live streaming your event makes it more accessible.  Suddenly professionals in regional areas or those who may be working remotely are able to attend.  It also makes your event more appealing to individuals who only wanted to attend one session to join in, as they no longer need to attend the whole day to get their money’s worth and justify the cost to their boss.

Live streaming can also make your event more affordable for attendees which may lead to an increase in attendance and reach.  Just think how much money you will save if you no longer have to pay for a venue or catering!  Suddenly you may have access to extra funds for additional speakers or content to make your event more engaging for your audience.  You could also consider selling tickets for certain sessions or allow attendees to build their own package (e.g. book multiple session to receive a discount) to increase appeal.

Most platforms allow for a share screen option, which means it is easy for your attendees to view slides, images or videos that may be shared as a part of a presentation.  It also allows for presenters to easily share access to downloadable resources, either prior, during or after the presentation.  Which is great, because it means that we can’t lose those 100 handouts we receive by the end of the event day!

While you might be worried that live streamed events may lose some of their interactive elements, let me reassure you this is not the case.  With most live streaming platforms offering the ability for viewers to ask questions during sessions, it may actually encourage more interaction if you don’t have to stand up with a microphone to ask a question!  There are also plenty of complimenting event applications that can further enhance the experience through attendee profiles, messaging, social share options, alerts, live polling and sponsor branding and advertising.

WHAT PLATFORMS ARE AVAILABLE?

Although COVID-19 and the increase in streamed events seems like a relatively new thing, it has actually been around for quite a while, which means there are a wide range of platforms available.  As with all ‘tech’ things each platform has its pros and cons.  Below we look at three popular platforms that are currently being used.  Remember the most important thing to consider when choosing a platform is the event objectives and how your audience will be interacting with your event.

IBM Cloud Video

Primarily a streaming platform, IBM Cloud also offers video on demand, allowing you to store previous session recordings for attendees to access at a later date.

 

Detailed Features

  • Enterprise video streaming
  • Enterprise content delivery network
  • Video distribution and workflow management
  • Monetization
  • Live streaming

Pros

  • Reliable platform
  • Suitable for larger clients
  • Good customer support
  • Wide range of features for broadcasters

Cons

  • Additional fees required in order to stream above 720p resolution
  • Poor closed captioning support

Cost

  • Pro accounts range from $99 to $999 per month and are based on viewer hours (how long people spend viewing the platform).
  • A full list of features and plans can be found here.

StreamShark

StreamShark offers reliable streaming with global reach.  Excelling at large scale events, it allows users to effectively and reliably manage different phases of your online event.

 

Detailed Features

  • Global coverage
  • Mobile-compatibility
  • Detailed viewer reports
  • Customizable live streaming video player
  • Privacy controls
  • Advertising and customer support

Pros

  • Localized media ingestion
  • Video Encoding
  • Redistribution
  • Increased storage space

Cons

  • No Channel support
  • No embeddable playlists
  • Fair to no video analytics

Cost

  • Monthly live streaming plans with StreamShark begin at $199 per month (geared for individuals)
  • Plans rise to $999 per month (for businesses).
  • A full list of features and plans can be found here.

DaCast

Providing comprehensive streaming and video hosting solutions, DaCast is a great entry level option that allows users to embed videos directly to your own website.

 

Detailed Features

  • Secure global content delivery
  • 24/7 tech support with all plans
  • Video security features
  • Player and Video API access
  • Multi-bitrate streaming
  • Real-time analytics
  • Ad-free streaming

Pros

  • Unlimited viewers & channels
  • Branding control
  • Embeddable video player
  • Mobile device support
  • Live stream recording

Cons

  • Requires some practice
  • Can be considered basic

Cost

  • Starter plan is ideal for newcomers at just $19 per month billed annually.
  • Premium plan for $125 per month billed annually.
  • The Enterprise plan for $289 per month billed annually.
  • A full list of features and plans can be found here.
Although we have seen a change in the traditional way we deliver and attend events, this doesn’t mean we still can’t plan and deliver highly engaging, interactive and memorable events.  In fact, I would argue that live streaming events actually opens the door to a wider audience than ever before.  The possibilities are endless as we take our first steps into this fresh event reality.
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