Technical Advice for Event Planners & Presenters
Across the world, event planners are turning their live events into virtual events, especially in the midst of COVID-19, the Coronavirus. It seems like every day there are more meetings, virtual summits, and webinars being offered online. Whether you’re an event planner or speaker, this trend has may cause you to turn a room in your house into a makeshift home studio. Perhaps you’ve considered live-streaming but are unsure where to start or maybe want to give your broadcast a more professional look. In this article, I’m going to outline my preferred hardware, software, and special tips so that you can start broadcasting almost immediately, with little to no investment.
Live-streaming can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before. I remember feeling very anxious about my first broadcasts. As a professional speaker and event planner, I wanted my virtual training to have the same impact as my in-person events. But how? Over time, I learned several tricks that made going live a breeze. It’s been a joy to consult with several professionals and share this knowledge with our clients at Veley Productions.
Most basic livestreams are shot from a single camera angle and hosted on ZOOM or Facebook . This is the common the setup that you most often see on a webinar or virtual meeting. While this gets the job done, it leaves plenty of room for growth. There is often little to no production value, in these setups. In fact, it’s usually pretty boring. If you desire to put on a ticketed event or want your brand to stand out, up-level to a multi-camera setup and on-screen graphics.
Getting Started with Live-Streaming
You might think that you need to buy expensive cameras or rent a studio space to start broadcasting. Believe it or not, you may be able to get started with items currently in your pocket or on your desk.
I broadcast through an app called Switcher Studio. Switcher is an iOS-based solution, meaning that it uses Apple devices to capture audio/video and control the broadcast. Additionally, you can bring in pre-recorded video, animated graphics, your logo, and video chat with your viewers. If you have a couple of iOS devices and a dependable WiFi signal, you’re good to go.
Planning Your Livestream
Before we talk about the tech, let’s first look over what you want your livestream to look and sound like.
Grab a sheet of paper and answer these questions. We’ll use that next.
1. Where will you film?
A room with hard surfaces is less desirable than one with carpet, drapes, etc.
Anything that can help absorb sound will help.
2. Will you be sitting close to the camera or do you prefer to stand, further away?
If you’re doing a a combination, I’d suggest two iPhone cameras (wide shot and close up shot).
3. How many people will be filmed in your room alone?
Plan on one microphone per person or a single overhead mic.
4. Will you control the broadcast or do you have help?
If you’re flying solo – simplify your setup.
Now that you’ve designed your show, we can look at the actual physical equipment that you’ll need. For most performers, I recommend running their broadcast with two iPhones (as cameras), an iPad (as the switching device), a few film lights, and a lavalier microphone. This setup is the easiest plug-and-play, especially for solo presenters. If you aren’t tech savvy or don’t want to get distracted with equipment, start here. You can always add more later.
Most professional broadcasters will agree that viewers will forgive choppy video over poor audio. Don’t trust the mic on your switching device alone. Using this will bring in ambient room noise. Instead, use a lavalier microphone.
If you are a presenter that has your own handheld or headset microphone, it is possible to connect that via a mixer. The simplest connection though, is using the Rode smartLav+. This mic plugs directly into switching device and requires very little adjustment. If I could make only one investment for my live-stream setup, this would be it.
An important point to mention is lighting. It’s best to start by getting three lights that diffuse the light and can be temperature controlled. The most popular for those starting out are “LED panel lights” and “soft boxes”. These provide a lot of bright light without casting harsh shadows or washing out the facial features of the subject.
BASIC HARDWARE LINKS
ADVANCED & OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES
Switcher Studio offers a 14-day free trial. Practice using it and rehearse your presentation while using it. This removes “fear of the unknown” when going live for the first time and allows you to focus more on connecting with your audience. If you don’t have someone manning the controls, pick one camera angle and switch when others are talking, to avoid looking distracted.
Switcher Studio offers something called SwitcherCast. This makes it possible to bring in your laptop as a source for your broadcast. You might use this to show slides or bring in guests via their video chat feature.
It’s also possible to connect Switcher Studio to ZOOM. This makes it possible for you to see your audience and interact with them face to face. This is more of an advanced setup, but you can figure it out with some help.
Tips for Presenters
As a presenter, it’s incredibly important to connect with your audience and get feedback. A lot of performers tell me that this is hard to feel connected without the audience feedback that they’re used to, in a live setting. Here are a few tips that will instantly better your on-screen presentations.
Add a TV Monitor
My favorite tip for presenters is to connect a TV or computer monitor, with a live output of their broadcast. It’s helpful to know what your audience sees on-screen. Just like it would be odd to walk offstage, it looks equally strange to walk off-screen. Sometimes objects used during a live event are hard to see or just look out of place when viewed on a screen. Details like this are a big reason why people tune out or log off of your broadcast. Thankfully this can be easily avoided.
A TV monitor allows you to see exactly what your audience sees, in real-time. To accomplish this, simply connect an HDMI to USB-C or HDMI adaptor to Lightning port from your switching device to your television. When placed directly in front of you, this screen will act like a mirror, allowing you to see every move while appearing that you’re looking out into the your virtual audience.
Make “Eye Contact”
Position your TV monitor on a stand so that it’s at eye level, across the room. Next, position your main camera device directly in front of it. When setup correctly, you should be able to look yourself in the eye on screen, while creating the illusion that you’re looking directly into the camera lens. This gives the illusion of eye contact. The beauty of it is that everyone watching experiences this at the same time. This is one of my greatest live-streaming secrets for presenters.
Create Audience Interaction
Many performers greet those that join the broadcast as they come or respond to comments. In most cases, I feel that this disrupts presentational flow. Instead, consider going live a few minutes ahead of schedule to greet your audience. Then, create a dedicated question and answer time at certain points in the presentation or save it for the end.
You can also bring people on screen to share an example, give a scenario to troubleshoot, etc. Be sure that these individuals don’t dominate the broadcast. Additionally, make sure that your content applies to the group, as a whole. This keeps people feeling engaged, instead of left out. Consider starting with an ice breaker in which everyone can guess, comment, or participate, early on in the broadcast. This creates participants, instead of spectators.
It really helps to have a mentor answer a few questions before your first few live-streams.
At Veley Productions, we help people get started with live-streaming and offer equipment rental to up-level your broadcast.
Have questions? Want us to run your broadcast remotely so you can simply focus on speaking?