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! 

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]

Juicy webcast

Richard Reed

Hear the down to earth wisdom of Richard Reed (founder of Innocent Drinks) AND find out more about Peace One Day from founder Jeremy Gilley, in this on demand webcast we recorded in May at Innocent’s HQ “Fruit Towers”.

Top Tip: If you find yourself running out of time to watch all of it, scroll down to the last item on the agenda “Rap by George Hardwick” to get the whole 99 minutes summed up in 3!

Click here, or on the image below to go to the webcast registration page.

Click image to play

Terminal terminology

I have seen two articles appear on the web in the past few days, both in ‘live events’ trade publications, that show there is still much confusion around all the different techniques and terminology that can be applied to creating an “on line life” for live event content. Whether that be streaming a seminar, conference or congress that already exists for a physical audience (often termed a ‘hybrid event’), or one that is created purely for a remote web audience (a ‘virtual event’.)

The first article I saw was by Alison Ledger, Editor of Haymarkets newly launched associationeventplanner.com which succinctly goes straight to the heart of the commercial sense of taking a conference on line. The second was on the website of ACE (The Association for Conferences and Events) which gives a much broader appraisal of different methods of creating an online experience from an audio conference call upwards. The title of this second article…

“Webcast, videoconference, telepresence, teleconference or virtual event???”

…and the fact it ends in three question marks, is for me symptomatic of the confusion that still exists around on line events even in the inside world of event planning and production.

When it comes to giving a conference an on line life, the clearest way to think of it, is replicating the experience (as close as possible) of being in the room. The remote delegate should be able to see and hear what the physical delegate sees and hears and (in an ideal world) actively participaties in questioning and commenting. Once that concept is agreed, we can get the terminology out of the way and the rest is simple.

Peace One Day – Insights

Jeremy Gilley

Just over a week ago we were privileged to sponsor the recording of Peace One Day Insights at the Grange City Hotel in London.

For those that aren’t aware of Peace One Day I urge you to visit the site and read and watch all about it. Then get involved! It is the most exciting and worthwhile ‘cause’ I have come across in recent years and is starting to gain real traction, as its visionary founder Jeremy Gilley (pictured) and his team of supporters and patrons work towards institutionalising a global day of non-aggression on the 21st September every year, so that it becomes as established in the world’s calendars as Mother’s Day. Having met Jeremy for the first time, I was supremely impressed and equally moved by his energy, enthusiasm and unwavering passion for a cause he began creating fully 12 years ago. This video tells you how it all began…

The Peace One Day Insights events are specifically targeted at SMEs. This is not surprising given that SMEs account for two-thirds of all employment globally and there are over 4.5 million of them in the UK alone. Jeremy together with President of the patrons programme Steve Bolton have identified this as the ideal target audience to help them build the groundswell of activity and engagement that is needed to make this a self-sustaining day in everyone’s calendar.

Aside form Mr Gilley’s energy and dedication, the thing that struck me having attended the event and later reviewing some of our recordings, was how much synergy there was between all the speakers and the cause the event is designed to support. Sounds obvious that it should be the case, but it shows great skill and sensitivity on the part of the person who researched and developed the day’s programme and also underlines the power of a truly worthwhile cause to draw in people who are naturally aligned with its objectives.

If you would like to see the recordings we have set them up on a Vimeo channel here. As an aside, I would be interested to hear your views on Vimeo as a viewer. It is the first time we have used it to create a channel. Seems to have some good attributes, although it is somehwhat annoying that you don’t have the freedom to instantly jump up and down the timeline as you do with our CDN hosted recordings. You have to wait for the file to download before you can jump to the end. That said; don’t jump to the end! All these recordings are all well worth watching.

Watch out for more news as BeThere Global becomes more involved with Peace One Day!

What it is to be a Global Small Business

It’s great fun this global business malarkey!
Last week we were in Amsterdam and responsible for live webcasting the keynote speech at Blackberry DevCon Europe (and also recording many of the breakout sessions) working with our friends at Shelton Fleming and Blitz Communications. This week we were in Las Vegas with M-Is webcasting the HP press event announcing Proliant Gen8 servers. And now today and tomorrow we are recording a training course for ISUOG in Paris.
And all the time I’ve not set foot a plane!
Mostly London events for a while now so I won’t feel so left out of the air miles race.

Why web broadcasting is important

You have to be there!

Web broadcasting has changed the way we communicate with the world.

Now, pretty much anyone can reach an audience comparable in size to that achieved by the ‘old-school’ mainstream media. And the great thing is that there is hardly any sector of industry, field of expertise or area of interest that would not benefit from the highly effective and efficient communication that web broadcasting enables.
Not only that, now that it is affordable to associations or businesses of all sizes, web broadcasting is very democratic. Even individuals can join in!
Using web broadcasting, associations, businesses and individuals can compete equally for attention on this global stage.

By promoting web broadcasts via social media, significant audiences can be attracted at very low cost, with the side benefit of an enhanced online reputation and a higher profile and level of engagement. This can result in increased brand awareness and lead generation for companies and improved membership retention and recruitment for associations.
Of course, seminars, conferences and congresses provide ideal content for web broadcasting. But as well as this, training, induction and other internal and external communications projects may be broadcast to a ‘web only’ audience – often referred to as virtual events.

At this very moment, people could be watching your organization’s web broadcasts from virtually any place on earth. Take into account the affordable nature of the medium and the low cost of using social media to propagate your audience, and you can web broadcast your event to the world at a fraction of the cost of more traditional marketing techniques like print advertsing.
Broadcasting your knowledge or expertise over the web is one of the most powerful tools that any organization has at its disposal. If you don’t want to be left behind, your organization should be taking advantage of web broadcasting; many already are.

At a different level, the momentum created by the wild popularity of digital media with groups and individuals of every race, colour, creed and persuasion participating, means that web broadcasting is becoming truly universal in reach. By helping to disseminate knowledge and foster mutual understanding and empathy among disparate groups of people around the globe, web broadcasting has the potential to be a significant force for good.

7 Questions Conference Organizers should ask themselves about their events

2 camera live webcast
  1. Are you frustrated at the amount of time and effort that goes into putting the presentations together, for them only to be seen and heard once by an audience limited to the number of seats you can squeeze in the room?
  2. Do you want to engage a remote audience who cannot or will not physically attend your event?
  3. Do you believe that there is inherent value in the knowledge and expertise contained in your presentation content that you should be recording?
  4. Do you want to reduce the cost of your event? Of course this needn’t be limited to hard cash; you may be looking to reduce the environmental price tag too.
  5. Do you want to enhance the experience of delegates by giving them access to recordings of the sessions?
  6. Are you trying to find new ways to retain and recruit members?
  7. Are you looking for new ways to generate revenue for your organization?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you should be talking to us about recording and webcasting your next conference, congress, seminar or presentation.

Why? Because we have a straightforward, proven and affordable solution to all of these problems.

Please get in touch, or simply fill in the form.

7 reasons to web broadcast your conference

BeThere Global live webcast

For those involved in organizing workshops, seminars, conferences and congresses… in fact pretty much any kind of face to face event, here are seven compelling reasons why you might want to web broadcast your event.

  1. You are frustrated at the amount of time and effort that goes into putting the presentations together, for them only to be seen and heard once by an audience limited to the number of seats you can squeeze in the room.
  2. You want to engage a remote audience who cannot or will not physically attend your event.
  3. You believe that there is inherent value in the knowledge and expertise contained in your presentation content that would benefit a wider audience.
  4. You need to reduce the cost of your event; financial and/or environmental.
  5. You want to enhance the experience for delegates by giving them access to recordings of the sessions to view afterwards and share with colleagues.
  6. You would like to generate additional revenue for your organization through selling access to your web broadcasts or through sponsorship.
  7. You see an opportunity to build a library of assets to benefit your staff / customers/ members.

Which of these apply to your organization?

Challenge or opportunity?

Face to face versus virtual

There’s an almost palpable tension in the conference and events industry between face to face events and the ‘virtual’ or ‘online’ experience.

There seems to be a certain reticence from some traditional conference production companies, experiential agencies, PCOs and event owners with an established and vested interest in face to face events.. a feeling of “hang on, if we put all this on the web, if we make it available online, if we go down the route of virtual events, people are not going to come to our events anymore. Isn’t it going to kill our industry doing that?”

But actually the reverse is true because the whole principle of virtual, or on line events, web casting or web broadcasting (choose your appropriate terminology), is that it actually enhances face to face events.

People will always come to face to face events because they want to meet people, they want to bump into old friends and make new ones in the bar afterwards. People who want to attend are always going to attend and the idea that putting the conference content online will cannibalise physical attendance is quite simply misguided.

The flip side is that a significant percentage of people will never go to a particular event; people who just don’t want to turn up for whatever reason.
Isn’t it great that you could actually open up and engage with these people by putting your conference content online?

Of course the arguments are different for different types of organisation;

  • For the corporate event organiser, as well as efficiency and speed of communication – particularly for those operating internationally –  it’s about reducing cost and environmental impact.
    Isn’t it great that actually you don’t need to get every person travelling every time,  to every event; you can pick and choose. Let individuals go to the events where it is vital for them to be there in person, but if its not crucial they attend you can save money, be more sustainable.
  • For the trade association, the sector-specific body or other membership based organisation a similar argument applies. Most of these organisations only attract a small percentage of their total membership to their events. Those that do attend are not just there for the conference sessions; the reasons they attend are multiple. Similarly to their corporate counterparts this audience craves human interaction and relishes those chance conversations that open doors. But there are other drivers such as kudos, self-esteem and sometimes it is as prosaic as getting those extra air miles or hotel group loyalty points. So you will not ‘put-off’ people who have strong personal reasons for attending; what you can do is open up new wide or targeted audiences who cannot or will not attend. You can also enhance the experience of those physically attending by giving them the added value of being able to access, revisit and share sessions after the event. If this is included as an extra benefit within their registration fee, it’s a sure fire method of increasing rather than depleting physical attendance at future events!

Companies and organisations that run conferences and congresses need to face up to this current challenge and see it for the opportunity it represents. They have to adapt to benefit from the new order of things enabled by web broadcasting.

It is my belief that adaptation is not an option if an organisation intends to be around for the long term. Michael Anderson, the President and CEO of the Canadian Society of Association Executives put the situation for associations very succinctly in a speech at Association Congress 2011, when he said,

Michael Anderson

“An Association has to remain relevant; if you aren’t adapting to your member needs, if you are not looking down the road in terms of what is going to impact them, and preparing them, the organisation is going to become irrelevant fairly quickly.”

Virtual and online events are already impacting companies and organisations in the conference world because people are starting to expect that the content will be published on the web. The organisations that embrace this development as a positive force are the ones that will remain relevant and prosper.