7 Things to Consider Before Webcasting Your Next Event
Would you like your next event accessible to more people than those who can actually attend? Is webcasting the right solution? Before you begin, consider the following:
- Location: As they say, 'Location, Location, Location'. Where are you having your event? A hotel conference center, your offices, a studio where only the presenters are present? What type of services do they provide? What type of services do you need? Will you need to provide food and amenities to your on-site presenters and attendees? What works best for your goals and your budget? If you are webcasting only a portion of a conference, then you need to determine which sessions to make available. If this is a training session, perhaps all you need is your presenters in a studio with access to PowerPoint presentations and the ability to receive Q and A.
- Reach and Geography:
- Will your audience be 100 or 100,000 viewers? The size of your audience will affect your bottom line so make sure to estimate realistically. Some webcast providers may base their price on your estimate and not on how many viewers actually watched your program, especially if they have to add additional resources to prepare for a larger viewership.
- Is the geographic reach of your webcast local, national or international? While most of the US is wired with high speed cable or fiber connections, there are still international countries where offices and homes have shared ISDN speeds of 512 k or dial up (can you believe it!). So if your audience includes international viewers, you may want to consider adding a low bit rate video or audio only stream.
- Audience/Content: Who is your audience? Is your content specific to a particular group or demographic? When developing your content make sure it fits your target audience. Keeping your audience in mind will help you make good decisions about what material to include, how to organize your ideas and how to best present your content. Most audiences will ask 'What's In It For Me?" So create your content to target the majority of viewers.
- Delivery: How will you deliver your webcast to your viewers:
- Format: There are several formats to choose from such as Windows Media, Flash, audio only and Mobile. You will want to offer your viewers at least two format options, if not more.
- Archive: Will you be archiving the event so viewers can watch it after the fact. This is always a good strategy especially if you have an international audience. Don't force someone to wake up in the middle of the night just to watch your webcast. No matter how exciting and informative your content is, sometimes your viewer just cannot make it to the live broadcast. Let them have access to the archive and follow up with an e-mail to those who registered (if you require registration). Not only will you be providing them with the archive link but you will also be able to promote your next event or keep your organization in the forefront of their mind.
- Connection Speed: You will want to provide your audience with a connection that adjusts to their bandwidth or, alternatively, provide a few links in different bandwidths. Consider audio only for those on dial up or low speed, shared connections.
- Add-ons: What do you need in addition to standard video and audio?
- Registration: Do you want to have your viewer fill out a registration form so you can track exactly who visited your webcast? Or will this be an event that’s open to all with no registration required?
- Branded Viewer Window: Branding your player window is important. Think about using a logo, titles, and links to important information such as the agenda, supplementary documents, etc.
- Q and A: Will your viewers be able to ask questions during the Q and A session? Will you provide this access via e-mail, phone, Twitter or some other format?
- PowerPoint: Will you inject your PowerPoint slides into the video stream or sync them in a window next to the video? If you inject the PowerPoint slides into the video or have an audio only stream, you will want to provide a follow up link to the PowerPoint so viewers can download cleaner, clearer slide copies.
- Captions: Do you need live or archive captions for the hearing impaired. Depending upon your organization, this may be mandatory (i.e. Government Agencies). Make sure you check to see if this is needed as captioning services can significantly add to your bottom line.
- Budget: The bottom line is normally what decides if you webcast your event or not. When preparing for a webcast / production is it great to add all the bells and whistles. But often, a simple video/audio webcast is all you need to succeed. It always helps to itemize all the bells and whistles to see what your budget will allow.
- Success: How will you measure your success? Greatest number of viewers? Geographic coverage? Questions and Answer session? Comments? ROI? The only person who can determine if your webcast was successful is you - but you need to determine how you are going to judge that before you start.