By enabling brands and organisations to expand their reach and create intimate moments with their audiences, live streaming has quickly established itself as an event marketing essential.
The pandemic has proved that live streaming connects viewers with brands in a way that’s more authentic, direct and spontaneous. The technology is here, and it’s now a case of cutting through the noise with slick, high-quality productions.
Yet with in-person events now making a comeback and event planners looking increasingly towards creating hybrid experiences for attendees, live streaming in events is taking a new form.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to live stream an event with a step-by-step action plan, covering equipment and platforms that will enable you to broadcast your live events to the world.
Why live streaming means more expanding your reach
Beyond a bigger reach (which is something all event planners want), live streaming offers a few added benefits. Here’s why combining live events with content is a win-win for your events:
- It creates real-time engagement: We all know that compared to on-demand content, live video provides more engagement, views and traffic. Face to face time with your audience allows you to humanise your brand and connect in a more personal way.
- It’s viewed on your time: Live streaming creates FOMO that makes viewers tune in on your time. This means that you are only engaging with people who care about you, your brand, and people that find your content extremely useful.
- It doesn’t break the bank: In its most basic form, the only thing that live streaming requires is a device with a camera and an internet connection.
How to Live Stream an Event
Before we get the ball rolling, ask yourself: “Why am I live streaming in the first place?” Is it to increase brand awareness or to educate your customers about some new features on a product?
Then to take this a step further, “What type of live streaming event will that be in the form of? Is it going to be a product launch, Q&As, or a brand moment?
Defining your objectives determines what type of live streaming experience you want to create, which in turn, influences what type of elements you’ll want to include in your live stream.
Live streaming setup
Now we’ve got you thinking about your objectives and what type of live stream you’ll be undertaking, it’s important to move on to the setup. Importantly, these apply to every stream out there (so you’ve got plenty more time to think). Getting these elements right is essential because a low-quality stream always does more damage than good.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or going for high-end production, there are a plethora of cameras out there to choose from, and the one that you choose will depend on the dynamics of your event.
If you’re diving into live streaming for the first time then a smartphone for platforms such as Instagram or Facebook Live is all you need. By far the cheapest and most accessible option, this works perfectly for creating a live stream that’s there at the moment.
Then if you’re looking for something more professional, whereby you want to capture multiple angles with professional footage, you’ll need to consider multiple cameras. There are plenty of cameras out on the market, regardless of price, here are some key aspects you need to consider:
- Does the camera have clean video and audio HDMI out?
- Will the camera overheat?
- Will the camera shut down after a long period of time?
If you already have a soundboard as part of your AV, then read on. If not, then it’s time to consider how you’ll capture the audio from your masterboard, and whether you’ll need extra microphones to accommodate this. For ease of use, go for wireless microphones that can be connected up to your encoder.
Encoders play an important role in maintaining a high-quality live stream. In a nutshell, they turn your AV into a format that can be transmissioned to the internet when you go live. This comes in two formats. The first option is a software encoder (think platforms such as OBS or Wirecast) that run on your computer. This works perfectly for beginners, however, beware that due to the amount of processing power this requires, it might slow your PC down.
The second option is a hardware encoder. This is a dedicated processor used to encode video and data into streamable content which serves as a more reliable solution. Importantly, this gives the power to manage streaming, recording and switching all from one place. The only catch is that they come with a high price tag, usually starting from upwards of $1,000.
An often overlooked but the vital element is the lighting at the venue. This can make a huge difference to the quality of the stream and the ambience that you convey. Selecting a well-lit location not only creates a more pleasant livestream for the attendee but also boosts concentration and engagement.
However, if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to rely on good lighting, then you should definitely purchase some lighting. The aim of the game is to provide as much illumination as possible so make sure to incorporate plenty of natural-looking light that will minimize any shadows.
The best way of doing this is with three-point lighting. You’ll want two lights pointing at you from a 45-degree angle and the other light aiming at the backdrop to remove the shadows.
How to set up a live stream of your event
Make sure you have a strong, reliable internet connection
Even with the perfect setup, your live stream will be unwatchable without a fast and stable internet connection. First things first, check the upload speed of your internet at the venue by running a test.
Generally speaking, this needs to be at least 5 mpbs, however, it’s also worth checking with your platform as each one will require a certain bitrate. If your venue doesn’t have the required upload, then you can set up your own network using remote Wi-Fi.
Setup your AV
Between audio and video, it’s always worth bearing in mind that your audience will be more forgiving of bad video than audio. For this reason, avoid using the internal mike on your camera as the quality isn’t there, and instead, go for an external one.
Also, if your venue has a sound technician then they should be able to give you access to the master audio. If that’s the case, you won’t need to bring external microphones.
As for the audio, this will depend a lot on what sort of stream you’re going for. If you’re going for something lowkey all you’ll need is a smartphone. Then if you’re looking to push the boat out, consider using two cameras, one for a static shot and another for an on-the-ground shot.
Select your streaming platform
When it comes to choosing a live streaming platform, you have plenty of options out there. What’s important is that you choose the platform that’s right for your audience’s demographic.
To give you an idea of what platform you should go for, here’s an overview of the main streaming platforms broken down into categories:
- Social media: Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram Live are great for brands looking to captivate and build relationships with their audiences, especially the younger generations.
- YouTube Live: Home to 2-billion monthly users, this provides marketers with a huge audience, while ensuring that their video content stays evergreen and more findable than it would be on Facebook or Instagram.
- Linkedin Live: The place for professional content, LinkedIn Live is great for promoting an event, if you’re looking to establish industry authority, provide expertise or attract new employees.
- Dedicated live streaming platforms: If you’re looking for a more business-oriented option, whereby you stream to your website or virtual stage then it’s worth considering platforms like Dacast, USTREAM or Brightcove.
Bonus Consideration: Multistreaming
Undecided as to what social media platform you should choose for your live streaming? Then fear not as you also have the option to stream to a few of these networks. This will allow you to expand your reach and target different audiences.
Test, test, test
Now for the main event, testing. To avoid any last-minute meltdowns, ideally you’ll want to do this at least two days before the day of the event. By far the best way of doing this is by creating a checklist.
Here are some of the considerations you need to make:
- Is the internet fast enough?
- Do you have any guests connecting virtually?
- Is the stream set up and ready to go live?
- How good is the audio and video quality?
- Is there good lighting?
- Is everything plugged in and set up correctly?
Live streaming your event is a fantastic way to expand your reach and create real-time engagement to an audience that spans will beyond the audience at your venue. But all of this depends on the quality of your stream and how much thought you put into it beforehand. By reading this article, we’ll be sure that you’ll be on to a winner at your next event.