Ten years ago, CommPartners introduced livestream services with a focus on helping organizations, extend their reach and value of their place based conferences.  The rationale at the time was that only a small percentage of our communities are able to attend onsite, leaving a significant number unengaged with these premiere education and networking events.  We felt adding a livestream would be positively received.  We realized through our initial client conversations, this wasn’t necessarily the case.

One of the reasons for the slow adaption rate was within organization structures, conference and meetings and online education were not always aligned as complementary elements of an education strategy.   A livestream presents the intersection of these two areas.  Organizations were not internally set to address this new opportunity.  Specifically the conference and meetings folks were hesitant to invest in any initiative that might take away from the number of onsite attendees.

Fast forward ten years later, we are seeing significant movement of organizations embracing the chance to increase their audience to more than just the people that attend onsite.  So why is this happening now and how can you leverage this opportunity?

We believe there has been a breakthrough for three reasons:

  1. There is greater recognition that attending online vs. onsite are unique experiences, with different motivations and expectations for participating. The fear of losing onsite attendees to an online offering have not materialized.  Alternatively, if presented in the right way, adding a livestream component, will grow the audience and can inspire online attendees to attend onsite for subsequent years.
  2. Increasingly our members and extended community staffs are working from home full time or several days per week. We are increasingly comfortable managing our work from a distant location and collaborating through our electronic devices.
  3. Host organizations are realigning how they present content with less focus on how it is originated. The emergence of online education and learning management systems that have become centralized knowledge communities are being used increasingly as central repositories for conference content, virtual events and eLearning programs.

With greater appreciation and emphasis  on livestreaming we have become more educated and strategic about how to position, price and deliver these programs. Provided below are considerations and approaches to help you generated positive results from your investment.

Position Your Livestream Programs for Success

We know attending an event remotely, without the energy of a crowd or being at a venue  is vastly different than attending alone, through your computer screen.  Therefore to have a successful outcome, the planning process should be based on understanding the virtual learner and planning accordingly. Having an alternative or parallel remote participant plan to actively engage online attendees moves them from passive observer to active participant.  Ideas include:

  • Have programming for just the virtual audience such as pre or post session interviews, pre-produced content, facilitated chats, raffles or giveaways.
  • Have an on camera MC for the virtual audience stimulating chats, submitting questions to speakers, and engaging remote attendees.
  • Make sure presenters incorporate the virtual audience in their session by looking at the camera, mentioning virtual attendees and having exercises available if the onsite audience is involved in an activity.
  • Use a platform that offers engagement features to blend the remote audience with the onsite audience such as live polls, crowdsourcing and contests.
  • Ask virtual audience members to upload their picture or groups they are participating with in the collaboration area to give the event a community feel.
  • Show a live map of where virtual attendees are logging in from.

Price Your Livestream to Strategically Fit Your Goals

Clients ask us all the time, how should we price our event?  Before considering pricing, it’s important to confirm strategy and your reasons for offering the live stream.  Some questions you want to consider are:

  • What is the value or uniqueness of the content we are providing?
  • Are we issuing credit for this program?
  • Are the speakers we have well known and would they attract an audience?
  • Do we draw onsite attendees from certain geographical areas or level of experience in our community?
  • Are we at capacity for our onsite event?
  • Are we using the livestream to attract participants to our community or our brand, onboard new members that can’t afford to travel, extend the conference experience, promote attendance for subsequent onsite conferences or a combination of all of all of these?

Based on responses to these questions, you can decide if you want to price your program at a full conference rate similar to the onsite event or attract more online participants with a lower, easy decision rate. In considering revenue goal, sponsorship and / or a virtual exhibit hall  can help offset the attendance fees and assure your program meets your budget objectives.

Deliver or Produce Your Livestream in a Professional and Engaging Manner

While education strategy is critical for online events, the production quality will be noticed and is critical to the program’s success. The goal is to have remote attendees feel they are onsite and have a front row seat. We recommend the following:

  • Consider a room or multiple rooms to hold all your virtual event sessions that work well as a virtual setting. Think about it as a studio with excellent acoustics, visuals, camera positioning and sound.
  • Use your onsite audience to build energy in the program form the virtual audience. Include roving microphones and camera shots to capture audience engagement.
  • Use the virtual MC to have a prominent role representing remote participants. Have him or her on camera introducing questions to the speakers.
  • Use lower third name graphics to identify who is speaking.
  • Consider multiple cameras to switch shots and views.
  • Have a remote interview area in a public place that attracts onsite attendees in the audience.
  • Consider an eye in the sky mounted camera to cut to transitions to provide the remote audience a sense of the energy at the event.

There appears to be a realization that a livestream is an excellent way to expand an organization’s reach and impact.  Providing the opportunity to participate online says to your community that you value their involvement regardless of where they are geographically or what stage in their professional life they may be.

If you are interested in discussing the opportunity for a  livestream for your organization, contact Meghan Gowen, VP Client Development at mgowen@commpartners.com.