Zoom Zoom!

Zoom logo

 
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!

 

New solutions

Maarten Emons
Maarten Emons test driving his BeThere Global SOLO

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.

Said Maarten;

“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! 

Some examples of our conference recordings and webcasts

Major Events
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.

hp
The Hewlett-Packard 75 Year Anniversary and ProLiant Gen8 Sever Introduction Live from Las Vegas

 

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.

ecss pl
ECSS 2014 Amsterdam – Challenges of the Paralympic Games
A Brave New World: Ability, Technology and Ethics

 

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.

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CME medical event with in room and on-line audience polling

 

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.

trb
The 2012 Joint Conference on Harbor Safety and Maritime Security Committees

 

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.

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth
  • Mobile makes up almost 40% of YouTube’s global watch time
  • YouTube is available on hundreds of millions of devices
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 4x since last year

sustain
Sustainability Live on YouTube

 

Software Demonstrations
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.

software-cap
The Pass Summit

 

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.

eventcamp
Event Camp Live from Abu Dhabi

 

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.

investigator
Medical Investigator Meeting

 

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.

muse
Log in at MUSE 2014 International Conference
Username mark@bethereglobal.com
Password mark123

 

Portable Systems
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.

portable-system-sm
VMware 2014 Barcelona

YouTube Live for Associations (getting the most eyes on your event)

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.

ecssThe 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.

youtube smECSS.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:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth
  • Mobile makes up almost 40% of YouTube’s global watch time
  • YouTube is available on hundreds of millions of devices
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 4x since last year

btg small 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.

ecss 2014

ecss plCHALLENGES FOR THE PARALYMPIC GAMES: FAIRNESS AND IDENTITY
Title: BRAVE NEW WORLD: ABILITY, TECHNOLOGY AND ETHICS
Speaker: MCNAMEE, M. [UNITED KINGDOM]

ecss supTHE FUTURE OF SPORTS NUTRICIAN – DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS
Speaker: MAUGHAN, R. [UNITED KINGDOM]

ecss nutritionTECHNOLOGY AND SPORTS NUTRITION
Speaker: CLOSE, G. [UNITED KINGDOM]

ecss juggleECSS Amsterdam 2014 – Opening Ceremony – The juggling of sport science. It’s the art of letting go!

VMWorld 2013 – engaging with remote audiences and adding value for delegates

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.

 

 

When it comes to creating hybrid events are organisers asking the right questions?

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:

  • Knowing who your key target audience(s) is/are
  • Establishing how and where they are most likely to access the content
  • Understanding what their expectations are of what they will get out of their participation

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]

How do you know if it’s working?

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…

Profit from hybrid events (Part 1)

Conference recording and web-casting are ideal ways to add value to your event because they:

  • Allow members/staff/customers/prospects who cannot attend in person to participate.
  • Give physical attendees access to all the concurrent sessions.
  • Extend the availability of the content beyond the few days of the conference itself
  • Provide content that can be used to promote programs, sponsors and future events.
  • Offer increased opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors to connect to your audience.

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’.

  • Provide members with live coverage of plenary/general sessions. But give remote viewers a voice; allow them to participate by submitting questions to the presenters or responding to polls. Events streamed live create interest in your organization, promote future events and expose your message to news media and social media.  Depending on your objectives, you can limit access to members (or other specific group) and invited guests.
  • Record all sessions to improve the value offer for physical attendees.  A large conference or congress would normally require require attendees to choose between simultaneous sessions. They may be torn as to which to choose, or may decide to skip a session in favour of networking time. It’s a powerful offer to allow them to catch all the sessions that interest them later at preferential rates as a ‘thank you’ for being there.
  • Create an on-line Conference TV channel that offers daily updates on activities at the conference. The schedule might include interviews with speakers and delegates, plenary/general session coverage, social media check-ins, promotions for upcoming activities and exhibit floor tours.  All of this activity generates buzz and allows viewers to see what they are missing. Conference TV can be advertiser/sponsor supported and offered free of charge to maximise reach.
  • Poll your audience on relevant issues  and on the sessions they view / attend.  This information can be invaluable to conference organizers. Find out what worked well and what did not.  Discover insights into the views and practices of your members. Consider offering your exhibitors a poll as a paid upgrade.

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.

 

Creating Hybrid Events

As you know event planners are entrusted to create positive, informative and hopefully compelling events for their attendees, whether delivered on location or via the Internet. One of the many challenges they face is how to transform their event into a virtual or hybrid event that provides both a quality remote viewing experience and profits their organization.

At BeThere Global we are working hard to develop hybrid events that are connecting people in truly meaningful ways. By creating techniques that meet the goals of simplicity, affordability and effectiveness we are ideally suited to support the event planners’ efforts to deliver quality hybrid events.

Below are a few examples of recent conferences that were transformed into hybrid events. Perhaps some of the approaches taken would work well for your events? Please have a look at and let us know your thoughts.

Conference TV
The Conference TV concept is simple; you have your important industry leaders in one place, so why not take advantage of this and have them interact with your entire membership. Conference TV allows people to communicate in a relaxed and well recognized talk show format.  They can explain their ideas, discuss the conference and take questions from anyone with Internet access. This programming can be delivered on your website, on TV monitors at the venue and at the conference hotel. You can program a full day of live sessions, interviews, promotions and social media check-ins that will be viewed not only by those that couldn’t attend but also by those that did.  pass_studio

You might want to locate the Conference TV Studio on the exhibit floor and offer virtual tours and interviews that provide your exhibitors the opportunity to connect with your entire membership.

 

Audience Interaction and Feedback
If your event is to hold the online audience’s attention it must engage them and require they do more than just sit and watch. Our Viewer Interactive Program is designed to do just that. Taking cues from social media VIP allows your audience to submit questions or comments to the group and to participate in audience polls. It’s like a private Twitter feed with the added benefit of being moderated as all feedback is previewed by your staff or the presenters before it is displayed to the group. In a recent medical seminar, VIP allowed both the Internet viewers and the audience in the room to participate. The on-site audience joined in using their smartphones thus eliminating the trouble and expense of dedicated audience response keypads.

Multiple Cameras and Session Indexing
At the TRB/National Academies Harbor Safety Committees meeting our operator used multiple remotely controlled cameras to capture questions and answer sessions. This technique economically delivers the production values that are often missing from webcasts. Indexing that allows viewers to locate a particular presenter or slide. Because we capture everything in real-time we don’t require the presentations in advance and your presenters are completely free to develop and deliver their presentations as they see fit.

The Opportunity to Include Off-Site Presenters
There may be times when an important presenter cannot make it in person to your event. So why can’t they participate remotely?  Now they can, using tools to which they already have access. For example Skype and a webcam. A speaker can deliver his or her full presentation with slides and videos from wherever they happen to be. Our operator controls the screen layout and is able switch between video of the presenter, their slides or a combination of both. The presentation is displayed in the room for your on-site audience and streamed live on your event webcast. It can also be played later on-demand and as part of your conference recordings.

eventcamp

Click on this image to seethe on demand page for this example

So as you can see at BeThereGlobal we feel that a webcast is much more than a webinar or a poorly produced, grainy YouTube video. Hybrid events should grab the minds of your audience and allow them to be part of the program wherever they are located.