This was an important industry-relevant event and it featured three exceptional speakers – all experts in their field (which are closely related). People had flown in from across Canada to the venue in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland and we had a packed house of well over 200 people.
There wasn’t room for everyone who wanted to attend and some influential professionals couldn’t make the trip here – and that’s where the idea for the live stream on Facebook came in. Live streaming provides the opportunity to extend and expand an event’s reach and ROI – and to create strong engagement with your audience.
No matter how many times we have produced live stream events (and they are becoming a regular occurrence in our world), there is always a concern about them. We work with an exceptional videographer/live stream team that consistently delivers excellence – and yet we still lose sleep when we have a live streamed event coming up. Well, more sleep than usual. We worry a lot – will the technology work, will the Wi-Fi go down, will the online audience have a positive experience… the list goes on and on.
We did produce our first live stream about five years ago with the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. There was a series of public policy meetings planned and we knew that it was crucial that those who were not in Vancouver had the opportunity to view the meetings and to provide feedback.
Facebook Live and other live streaming platforms weren’t out yet – so we streamed through the Commission’s website. There wasn’t a huge opportunity with technology and within our budget to be interactive during the live stream, but it did allow interested individuals and groups to watch and provide feedback to the Commission via e-mail.
Today, interactivity is a key component of a live stream, and it improves the experience substantially. Given our extensive experience with this type of engagement – live streaming an in-person event – we thought we would share some tips and insights on how to produce an effective live stream.
Tips for a Facebook Live Event
- Hire a great videography team – we work with Sean Lam and his team and highly recommend them. Call us if you want more information, but I can tell you – they are excellent partners. They are skilled, experienced and they care.
- Identify the purpose of the live stream – is it to increase Facebook followers? Build engagement? Educate? Entertain? Influence opinions? Provide news and updates (especially important if you are dealing with an issue or crisis)?
- You need to know what you want to achieve before you plan out your live stream content strategy.
- Promote the live stream from two weeks out. Any earlier and people won’t notice. From two weeks out, push out information via Facebook, e-mail, your website, your newsletter, via event announcements and other communications methods.
- If you have speakers, ask them to (please and thank you) promote the live stream to their community. And help them to do it by providing visuals and content. Make it easy for them.
- Run special promotions one week ahead of the live stream. This could include giveaways or other contests. Engage the audience with the subject matter that the speakers will address.
- Double, triple and quadruple-check your technology.
- Review your speakers’ presentations to ensure that they will work for the live stream.
- Put up signs at the event so people in the audience will realize that there is a camera and that if they walk in front of it, they will block the view for the people online.
- Assign someone to monitor Facebook for comments and questions – and to engage. If there are breaks in between presentations, have that person ask the online audience questions.
- Ensure that if the speakers take questions, the audience on Facebook has a chance to ask some too.
- If you can’t get to all of the questions on Facebook, explain to people that there is a limited time for questions. If there are questions that the Facebook engagement person can respond to, do that.
- Ensure that the person engaging online knows the full presentation schedule and can explain what is happening and that the video will be available post-presentation for viewing.
- At the end of your event – thank the Facebook audience specifically for being there. They took time out of their day to participate in your event.
- Post-event, go through the comments and make sure that you have responded to each one. In the hectic pace of a live event, it is reasonable to expect that you will miss a few.
- Find a quiet place, post-event, to have a glass of wine or a beer. You deserve it!