In my 19+ years in the video production world, I have seen the popularity of webcasts skyrocket.
Webcasts have become a major resource for companies around the world. They can further corporate communication efforts, allow companies to directly engage with employees, and position themselves as industry thought leaders. But that only happens when a webcast is done right. Many companies that want to take advantage of webcasting benefits do not know what makes a webcast effective. Some do not know where to begin. That’s why I am going to tell you about the five most essential things necessary to pull off a successful webcast.
Although it may seem obvious, bandwidth is imperative to the success of a webcast. For example, if you’re broadcasting from a location with poor bandwidth or a connection that might be shared by other users, you compromise the chances of a good viewing experience for your audience. Before you begin a webcast, make sure you have a good internet connection with appropriate – and preferably dedicated –bandwidth. You should never go through a wi-fi connection. Always go for direct ethernet connectivity, it could save your webcast.
USE THE CORRECT PLATFORM AND TOOLS
A VCU or a webcam streaming over video conferencing platforms, such as WebEx or Google Chat, is not a foolproof webcasting solution. They are designed for point-to-point video meetings. The quality of the cameras, audio and encoders used on these platforms don’t make for a great viewing experience if you’re looking to broadcast to larger audiences in multiple locations.
There’s a big difference when you see a streamed webcast that’s using broadcast-quality video and audio equipment versus someone trying to use video conferencing technology and meeting software to deliver a broadcast.
An engaging webcast is not only dependent on content but on production value as well. The higher the production value of a webcast the more likely you are to capture and keep the audience’s attention. Think about things like the set, lighting, talent, and positioning. Certain production elements, like a good opening, can really add to your webcast. Timing of transitions, talent cues, and camera angles are examples of things that often go overlooked when a client is planning their webcast. These are just a few parts of a more “highly produced show” that can add a lot to the production value of your webcast.
The first question to ask when planning a webcast is “does this need to be live?” If the webcast has no interactive elements, such as live Q&A, polling, or two-way communication with the audience – why add the complications of a live webcast? You always have the option to record a show and then stream later as if it is live.
Keep in mind that interactivity can have a major impact on audience engagement. Allow your audience members to both listen and participate in your webcast to drive greater engagement and add value to the attendee experience. Think more about how to get your audience involved in the webcast.
HAVE SAFETY NETS
When it comes to broadcasts, take it from someone who’s worked in live television for 18 years, anything can happen. That’s why you must always plan for the worst and proactively prepare for potential issues. Thinking ahead to make sure that you have things like a backup encoder, a second connection (internet or bonded cellular), or a phone line back up for audio, could be vital to the success of your show. These precautions are examples of backups that all good productions have in place. Because you never know when the gremlins will creep in. And the show must go on!
Once you know how to produce a successful webcast, there is no limit to the things you and your company can achieve using webcasting technologies. You can stream to audience nationwide, hold company town hall meetings, and even support live training initiatives.
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