Courtesy of Channel 4 News

Take Your Online Event To The Next Level

By Becky De Laurenzy

With many of us working from home, you may be thinking about setting up a webcast or webinar as a replacement for a real-life presentation or event. These steps will tell you everything you need to know to up your creative thinking and consider how you approach the challenge.

We’ve all become more familiar with tools such as Zoom and a plethora of other web conferencing tools over the past few months. Of course, many news broadcasters are having to use a webcasting-approach too and some are doing it really well. Krishnan Guru-Murthy, for instance, presenting his news segments from home. It was only the appearance of his dog at the end of a recent bulletin that revealed he wasn’t actually present in the studio – you’d never have known from watching – the sound was good quality, the greenscreen backdrop was well lit and each live interview and video insert worked seamlessly.

Courtesy of Channel 4 News

Of course, not everybody has a technical team from Channel 4 at their disposal, so what can you do to create a professional and entertaining webcast? Time to move beyond the technical basics of having a strong internet connection and good audio quality – and into the creative features you didn’t know your webcast needed – until now.

#1 Introduce a bit of TV-Showbiz sparkle

Business presentation via Zoom call? Or prime-time television? I know which one I’d rather watch… We’re so used to consuming such great quality entertainment on TV these days that it’s pretty hard to get overly excited about a webcast. This is why it’s time to consider your approach and take a bit of inspiration from TV shows – because there’s no reason why it can’t be just as entertaining and enjoyable to watch. Be creative and have fun with it. Accept that you might not be able to cram in all the detail and prioritise your messages. Then, think about how to tell stories, interview people to get different perspectives and make your points land in more creative ways.

#2 Mix it up

How do you get your webcast to have the impact of a TV show? The key is to enhance it with pre-prepared content – such as video, animation and graphics to maintain pace and variety.

Creating short video stings to use as intros and outros to your various segments really helps increase production values and playing pre-prepared content like video case studies or reports will add depth and different perspectives.

If you’re the main presenter, doing this yourself (unless you’re technically savvy and have 3 hands) may mean finding a willing third party to help you mix your content seamlessly. How does this work? Using a relatively inexpensive piece of video switching kit such as the ATEM Mini a tech-savvy person can perform the role of vision mixer giving them the ability to mix between various livestreams & sources such as cameras, videos and slides, making the whole production more TV-like. For instance, they could play an opening title video to introduce the subject matter at the start of the webcast and then switch to your video input to start presenting the webcast. Whilst you talk, a name strap could appear to introduce your name and title and so on. TV production values on a budget that really increase the watchability of your webcast.

#3 Get creative

Add some life into your webcast by introducing humour and emotion into any additional video content you create. You need to ‘think human’ and assess what people will relate to. For example, an animation could work well to explain certain complex topics you’re talking about or to tell a story succinctly. Check out our guide on How to Tell your story through animation.

Another worthwhile ‘TV-inspired’ technique could be to create short video clips as teasers for what will be coming up later in the webcast. Animations such as ‘coming up next…’ or ‘coming up after the break…’ will keep your audience watching. Another classic TV-technique is to build up to the main item on the agenda or the big announcement throughout but cover it towards the end of the webcast to ensure that your audience stays tuned throughout.

#4 Involve different presenters

Make your webcast more dynamic by using multiple presenters through live or pre-recorded interviews. Allowing a variety of angles to tell your story will make your webcast more watchable. You could consider including people that your audience wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear from to add an element of surprise. One of the benefits of webcasting vs. a live event is that potentially you can free up budget to spend on higher production values – like special guests or subject matter experts. Or you could invite colleagues and various team members to present and give more of a team/community feel to your webcast. Lastly, investing in some presenter coaching might be worthwhile to make sure that your delivery is polished and professional on-camera.

#5 Backdrop

Back to the technical side of proceedings, having a backdrop can really level-up the professional look to your webcast. Choosing which backdrop to use for your webcast will depend on your price range, how big your room is and how wide an angle the camera is set to. Go for something abstract to give you flexibility with positioning. A simple curved panel works well and could be complimented by some TV-friendly furniture. Adding some soft furnishings like branded or on-brand coloured cushions can help create more of a studio-feel.

#6 Interactivity

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the interaction level between you and your audience, the higher the engagement you’ll have with those watching. Engage with your audience by utilising online tools such as Glisser with polls and chat allow your audience to feedback and contribute their opinions to the webcast too.

#7 Practice

Presenting from home should mean you’ll be at ease and at your most relaxed on your webcast. However, you need to present with energy! If you find it daunting talking down the lens of a camera as opposed to a room full of people, it may be worth asking someone else to be in the room when you present to give you someone to focus on (watch your eyeline though!). Our advice is to rehearse the entire ‘show’ multiple times before streaming and make sure everyone else presenting is well versed in how the webcast will run.

#8 Make your event available post-streaming

You can increase the accessibility of your online event to those who may not have otherwise been able to attend by recording the webcast as it goes live and allow it to be viewed later on, on-demand.

It goes without saying that it’s worthwhile planning your webcast meticulously so that you can make the most of it. With a bit of planning and implementation of these 8 tips, you should be well on your way!

The WHY Agency are creative communications specialists, creating engaging live & online events. We help companies & individuals tell their stories by creating inspiring, engaging content: video, animation, presentations, design & technical event production.