Above is a screen grab of the on demand webcast made available after the event for those who couldnt make the live stream.
A couple of days ago, we carried out a live link up between a hotel meeting room in Basingstoke, UK and a conference room in Washington DC, USA.
This wasn’t a webcast as such, because there was no requirement for viewers to join via the web. It was in fact a co-presented session at the National Speakers Association Conference “Influence 2015” in Washington DC on “Creating a new income stream with hybrid and virtual events”.
What was different was that the two speakers were more than 3000 miles apart; Media Coach Alan Stevens was on stage at the Marriott Wardman Park, while PlanetPlanit’s Paul Cook was (along withe the BeThere Global team) at the Hampshire Court Hotel, Basingstoke and projected on the screen in Washington.
For 90 minutes the pair entertained and informed the 100 or so physical delegates in the room in Washington – all professional speakers of course – on the very subject of “virtual speaking”.
From the flow of questions and the dialogue that ensued, clearly a topic of great interest to this audience. The session took the form of a masterclass in this particular form of hybrid event.
Topics covered included the future of events and how the landscape is changing and the different forms that hybrid events can take. But the lion’s share of the time, was devoted to practical hints and tips about how to dress, suitable backgrounds, how to address the camera, ensuring audience engagement and some of the technologies that enable it all to happen. All of course presented from the perspective of a professional speaker.
In our role as creators of virtual and hybrid events, there was nothing particularly new or radical about this event, although for the audience in Washington it was quite a novelty. Where the interest lies for us, is in the fact that we were able to carry out a synchronous audio and video hook up without the expense of a cumbersome video conferencing unit at one extreme and without the vagaries and unpredictability of Skype at the other. Until recently these were really the only two practical options. One very expensive, the other just a bit scary and unpredictable!
What we used instead was a service called Zoom.us, which is essentially software video conferencing. Using this together with the hotels’ broadband connections (at both ends) and our regular BeThere Global hardware meant we lost none of our portability or speed of set up but were able to deliver something that would have been very complicated and costly not so long ago. What is exciting in terms of pushing the envelope for virtual events is that this same software allows the participation of up to 25 “callers” – or in our context “speakers”. With the right event design and careful management multi location virtual events are now an affordable reality for the mainstream conference market. This is fortunate, as we are increasingly being asked to provide exactly that!
We are delighted to have delivered the first BeThere Global SOLO system to Ngi-NGN (the Dutch Computer Society).
This is a single camera, self-operated system that allows organisations to record and live stream events for themselves. It all packs into the very compact bag and weighs in at less than 15Kgs.
With only a little training, Maarten Emons (Elected Member of Board for the Dutch Computer Society and responsible for Marketing and Communication) and his team are up and running live streaming their events.
“The BeThere Global SOLO is for the Dutch Computer Society a low cost and easy to operate device to let volunteers broadcast our sessions. Currently we are experimenting and thinking of buying more systems next year. It takes us 25 minutes to set-up and start streaming to YouTube. The support given by BeThere Global was great! We are working together to make a good instruction manual and further improve the system. So far a great solution which will have a big impact for our association!”
If your organisation is interested in a “self-drive” webcasting solution then the BeThere Global SOLO could be for you, please get in touch!
You might call it a “seven year itch”, but having lived with our logo since 2008, we thought it was about time to refresh our branding with something more visually representative of what we do, while still being recognisable to those who know and trust us.
We worked with Watershed Creative to come up with the logo you see here.
Designer Jonathan Schofield said about his design;
“I wanted to get across the idea of multiple strands of knowledge being captured and and then redistributed to a much wider audience. After all, in essence that is what BeThere Global does. The circle represents the confines of the venue and the radiating lines emanating from it suggest breaking out and distributing the content to global audiences. Of course, the “play” icon at the centre reminds us that video is the medium used to deliver the live streams and recordings.”
Jonathan then got to work on the new BeThere Global responsive design website; please visit us on your mobile or tablet and let me know what you think.
Webcasts and conference recordings are a great way to get your message out to a much larger audience, including the media and news organizations. This press launch was viewed live by hundreds of industry representatives around the world. Events can by posted and shared on websites so that anyone can view them or they can be offered by “invitation only” where viewers must identify themselves in order to view. To help prevent password sharing we can require an individual’s social media credentials to log-in. Webcast can also be offered only to those connecting on the company’s internal network.
Associations and Trade Groups
Today on Facebook anyone can start a group that provides much of the same networking and information sharing that was once the exclusive domain of associations. Professional associations need to provide more services to attract and retain members so whether it’s sold to generate new revenues, posted on YouTube to educate and gain awareness or provided exclusively to attendees, conference recordings and webcasts deliver the groups message months after their events have ended.
Continuing Professional Education Providers
CPE often requires the audience to complete examinations before and or after the event to evaluate the learning experience. Here is a medical conference with in room and on-line audience polling. Polls, feedback and comments can be anonymous or tracked to each registered attendee. Feedback windows can be either open with cross chat allowed between viewers, similar to Twitter, or fully moderated with only the organizer being able to view the comments or republish them for the group.
Government and Non-Profits
In this clip from the TRB/National Academies of Science – Harbor Safety Committees meeting provides slide and presenter indexing that allows viewers to locate a particular presenter or slide instantly. Because we capture everything in real-time we don’t require the presentations in advance leaving your presenters completely free to develop and deliver their presentations as they see fit. We regularly provide webcasts for government, local councils, non-profits and education.
Building An Audience Using YouTube
Sustainability Live 2014 was the UK’s ultimate business event for energy efficiency, energy recovery, water and waste-water management. The keynote sessions were presented live and are available now on the Sustainability Live YouTube channel. This activity substantially raises their search engine ranking and overall visibility.
For this major software association our operator captures a live software demonstration. During the presentation he reconfigure the webcast screen to suit the content being presented. We can have full screen video of the presenter, the presenter in a window or the software demo full screen at its native resolution. The webcast “stage” is fully customizable to any configuration and can include logos, hyperlinks or messages from your sponsors. This real-time video switching alleviates the need for expensive post-production while providing the production values often missing from our competitors webcasts.
Remote Presenters Using Skype and Google+
In this example you will see how we employed SKYPE to bring presenters from around the world to the Event Camp, part of the Incentives, Business, Travel and Meeting Expo held in Abu Dhabi this spring. In this session “The Secrets of Virtual and Hybrid Event Marketing” the presenter will discuss how to get the most from your virtual event. BeThereGlobal.com provided HD cameras, microphones, bandwidth tests and production advice to the remote presenters before the event to assure flawless execution on the day.
Round Table Discussions
In this short clip from a medical investigator meeting we demonstrate how our operator uses robotic twin cameras and our own broadcasting software to capture round table discussions and add production value in real-time. This unique technology allows us to provide broadcast quality service and to do it at very reasonable rates.
Multiple Room Events
For the Medical Users Software Exchange we recorded the slides with audio from 104 sessions in 17 rooms. This is an economical way to record as it does not required a camera operator in the room. These recordings added value to attending the event as only paid attendees could view them.
Log in at MUSE 2014 International Conference
For this event the client required portable webcast systems that could be moved between fifteen rooms to cover the sessions that were most subscribed to. Our systems with their remote controlled camera and back-up encoder did the job perfectly. VMware uses YouTube to host events because they want the most eyes on their content, automated text transcripts, universal playback across all devices and availability around the world.
July 2014 – The European College of Sport Science held it’s 19th annual congress in Amsterdam, “Sports Science Around the Canals”. The congress had 2,760 attendees, from 75 countries, who viewed 4 plenary sessions, 8 key note lectures and 896 oral presentations.
The ECSS.tv web platform broadcasts scientific presentations and lectures plus interviews and background materials from the ECSS annual congress and many other ECSS events. Full access to ECSS.tv is provided to members only from their individual accounts. ECSS.tv is funded by a single sponsor Aspetar, the first specialized Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital in the Gulf region.
ECSS.tv also has a YouTube channel dedicated to educating the public at large about sport science and the role ECSS and its members play. YouTube is the ideal place for attracting viewers from across the globe and introducing them to the ECSS and its activities thus building awareness and importantly ECSS membership. YouTube was chosen because:
For BeThereGlobal.com this is our second year recording and web-casting for ECSS.tv. Utilizing a crew of just two we live webcast all of the keynote and plenary presentations and captured over 40 select sessions in two rooms for on-demand viewing. All of these activities where posted daily on ECSS.tv for immediate viewing and feedback by the attendees. Next year this event moves to Malmö, Sweden where we are looking forward to providing enhanced event coverage that will include more session recording and webcasts plus live broadcasts from the ECSS.tv studio located on the exhibit floor.
Our congratulations to ECSS and the local organizers, the MOVE Research Institute Amsterdam, the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research and both the VU University Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center Amsterdamfor a hosting such a marvelous event.
VMWorld 2013 Europe took place at the Fira in Barcelona with more than 8,000 IT professionals attending. This is an event on a massive scale, spreading as it does across 3 halls with 24 separate rooms with over 200 educational sessions. We were delighted to be there to capture some of the conference content and working with our friends at Blitz Communications and the producers of the overall event, Jack Morton Worldwide.
It would seem logical to assume that the primary objective for VMWare was to get a greater return on their investment in the event by giving some of the content life beyond the event itself. Of course by engaging with a remote audience of “non-attendees”, there’s a fair chance some of them will decide to attend next time or otherwise ‘buy-in’ to the VMWare offer. At the same time of course they are giving the physically attending delegates the opportunity to revisit sessions, see sessions they missed or share them with colleagues; all adding value, developing and continuing the relationship with their customers, partners and prospects.
The BeThere Global team were contracted to record 29 of the sessions and post them to the VMWorld YouTube channel daily.
Just to make life interesting, the Spotlight Sessions selected for recording were taking place in different rooms! Our technician, working largely solo, had to be able to move the conference recording system to any one of the 24 session rooms and be up and running in less than 30 minutes.
The photo above shows the solution. We utilized a roving Conference Recording Cart with a robotic camera and redundant encoders that could be moved quickly and be recording within a few minutes of arriving in the room.
The content recorded was offered free to view on the VMWare YouTube channel and embedded in the VMWorld 2013 Spotlight Sessions page. The viewing statistics are impressive and show there is significant demand for this content; just one week after the event viewers had consumed over 730 hours of Spotlight Session recordings.
For demonstration purposes, we have created a page that shows just some of the Spotlight Sessions with Twitter comments alongside – an indication of the engagement the content has created for VMWare. Perhaps an indicator that recording the entire catalogue of 200 sessions might be a smart move next time!
By the way, the recordings on this page are hosted on YouTube. Try turning on the captions. If you speak any languages other than English try the translated captions.
Let’s start with the importance of ‘why’. I contend that it is more important to establish and clarify your objectives for a hybrid or virtual event, than for one that is purely face to face.
“Start with Why”, is the title of a book by Simon Sinek in which he argues that the greatest success comes to those who know and can communicate why they are doing something, rather than what they do. As a result they are able to inspire people to action. He cites examples as broad ranging as the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King and Apple. If you haven’t read the book, I urge you to get hold of a copy. Alternatively you could save yourself a few hours and simply watch his TED-X film on the subject (below).
Sinek’s mantra is “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” I believe he has it dead right and that the very same argument applies to the business of creating events – physical, virtual and hybrid – just as much as it does to inventors, activists and corporations. And the power of being driven by a genuine purpose, or belief, will outgun any amount of resources.
Think of your event in this way. If you can start with a clear understanding of ‘why’ you are creating it, what it’s true purpose is and you can express that effectively you will have a much better chance of getting your target audience to show up than if you don’t and can’t.
When it comes to virtual or hybrid events, where by definition you are trying to build a remote audience, it is even more crucial to know, understand, integrate and communicate ‘why’ you are organising your particular event. The effect is amplified for two main reasons:
First, you are likely to have to inspire people to attend from a distance without the advantage of physical human interaction to aid persuasion and gain commitment.
Second, even if you get them to sign up, as a remote participant, it is extremely easy and painless for people to just not show up. There isn’t the embarrassment factor of failing to attend a physical event for one thing; not the same feeling of letting people down. The problem is compounded because with remote participation there is much more likelihood of getting distracted by email, phone calls, visitors or the thousand and one other demands on our time. Furthermore, with no prepaid travel commitments and very often little or no cost to register, there is little to lose. In this context, the remote audience simply must be inspired by the event if they are to turn up at all.
It is for all these reasons that the very first questions we ask our new or prospective clients are, “why are you creating this event?” and “how will it help you to achieve your objectives?”
Once these fundamental questions are answered (and only then) is it sensible to move forward to the more detailed planning phase of hybrid event production. At this stage there are a multitude of questions that need to be considered, too many and varied to address within the confines of this article, so I’m going to focus on the next key question – who will attend?
The question is phrased very deliberately as a successful hybrid event should involve much more than passive watching and listening on the part of remote participants. To be truly successful the remote audience must engage, interact, participate. This can only be achieved when there is clarity in the following key areas:
Only then can the hybrid event organiser make correct decisions in crafting the content.
Having explored why and who, a third essential question that has to be answered is whether the online content should be available live or on demand? Very often the correct answer turns out to be a combination of the two.
This is perhaps one of the most contentious questions in planning a hybrid event and one where there can be two opposing views. Some organisers seem set on going live just because they can; because it’s the latest bright and shiny thing to do with a conference. At the other extreme are the supporters of the “cannibalisation theory”; a view that streaming a conference or event will reduce physical attendance. As with all the fundamental questions the hybrid event organiser needs to ask, there is no one size fits all answer. There is a multitude of strategic, practical, commercial and cultural considerations to take into account in determining whether a particular event should be available live or not.
We always advise our clients that there needs to be valid and compelling reasons to ‘go live’. Live streaming should not be undertaken lightly and can create additional stress for the organiser, but on the other hand it is becoming increasingly accessible, reliable and affordable and not something to view with trepidation. And when it comes to that cannibalisation theory, we have seen anecdotal evidence that suggests the reverse may often be the case; that having participated remotely people get an indication of what they are missing and resolve to physically attend next time.
If those compelling reasons exist and the decision is taken to go live, then we always recommend there is the opportunity for remote participants to become actively involved with the event. At the simplest level this might take the form of the facility to make a comment or ask questions, respond to polls or interact via social media. Well used, the addition of these feedback loops can transform passive viewing into a genuinely interactive and engaging experience. More importantly, it opens up the possibility for the organisation to exploit their conference content assets in a way that just hasn’t been possible until now.
Coming back to where I started, having the correct answers to these and the multitude of other questions organisers need to ask in order to create successful hybrid events is dependent on knowing the answer to that very first question; the need to start with ‘why?’
[This article was originally published in Conference News]
Having worked in the world of conferences and events my entire working life (to date) I have seen many fads and fashions come and go. Sometimes these have been technology and gimmicks used for the sake of it – clients and producers just wanting to have the latest bleeding edge product. Sometimes it has been a theme or approach inspired by some topical event, TV series or film.(Although I do lay claim to pitching a client an X-Factor theme a good decade before the TV series landed!). Something else that arrived around the mid 90’s but has proved itself much more than a fad (quite rightly), is ‘measurement’.
Previously clients were happy with a good ‘gut feeling’ or a reasonable number of (metaphorical) slaps on the back as the measure of success of a conference or event. But ever increasingly powerful procurement departments decided that just wasn’t good enough any more; it was necessary to prove that objectives were being met, that the return on investment justified the cost, that events work!
Along the way they took a lot of the fun out of the business. Conferences and events by and large grew more sterile, less creative… but at least they had statistics, graphs and balance sheets that proved their value! But there is the problem; a lot of dry data is produced which is often difficult to digest and even harder to interpret. And who really believes statistics anyway?
Last month I learnt there is an organisation out there called Fr3dom Health, that has realised the problem with this approach and that numbers alone are not enough! Not only that, they have developed a platform to provide a sophisticated quantitative and qualitative measurement service for event owners that goes way beyond the spreadsheet. We were contracted by them to produce video content to support the measurement of the success of a large Department of Health event Innovation Expo 2013. As Toby Knightley-Day, MD of Fr3dom Health puts it
“Its about telling stories”.
That’s music to my ears.
Here is Toby talking about the event…
Conference recording and web-casting are ideal ways to add value to your event because they:
But for most organizers the real issues are will these activities reduce physical attendance and will they generate revenue. The fact is that the conference industry is probably past the tipping point with providing content on-line.
Let’s take a clue from the entertainment industry. In the 90’s the music industry was slow to adapt to on-line delivery and their profits were decimated by piracy. Yet Hollywood embraced on-line delivery and today more films will be watched online (legally) than purchased as physical products. According to IHS Screen Digest Americans watched 3.4 billion movies online in 2012, a considerably larger number than the 2.4 billion DVDs sold. In the meantime, the music industry has been playing catch up. Between 2000 and 2010 CD sales declined by 50% and last year digital music sales surpassed physical music sales making up 50.3% of all music sold. So its clear content owners ignore online delivery at their peril.
Bringing these learnings back to the conference world and combining it with our extensive experience of recording and streaming conferences across many different sectors, we recommend organizers deploy some or all of the following tactics if they want to profit from what are increasingly being called ‘hybrid events’.
Perhaps by now you are convinced that streaming elements of your conference on-line is a valuable exercise and is probably something you are going to have to do sooner or later anyway.
In my next blog I will look at some of the specific models that can be applied to generating revenue and also some of the techniques that can be applied to reduce or avoid piracy.