Top tips for live streaming a conference or event
Show and Tell • 18th May, 2017
We’ve learned a whole lot from live streaming and we really wanted to share that information with others so they don’t make the same mistakes as we did.
You can also read along below if you'd prefer!
Ask all the technical questions before the event
What’s the Speed?
It’s a great idea to reach out to your contact at the event so that you can gather some vital pieces of information.
We always ask them to perform a speed test and to share those results with us. That way we are not surprised when the conference rolls around and we are left with a low bandwidth.
Can You Get It?
It can be that certain areas of corporate buildings have a bandwidth cap on their ethernet ports, so be sure to check that you can get the speed they are quoting you!
Shared or Dedicated?
Be sure to ask if the connection is dedicated or shared among the conference attendees. When they roll in with all their tech, you may see a decline in bandwidth. Having a dedicated connection point is always best.
Test the stream (a few times)
The Night Before
If you are lucky enough to get into the venue the day before, we recommend setting up all the gear and running a live stream for half an hour while you check sound and video.
Watch the Test
So you’re back at your hotel, this is a perfect time to watch through your live stream and check:
What’s the quality like?
Do you need to change the compression settings?
Is the audio in sync?
Is the audio level right?
You likely won’t have time to check any of this during the live show - make your changes while you still can.
One More Test
There’s always time for one final check on the morning of the event. Get there a little early, set up a test stream, and give things a run through (making any changes that you notices during the previous test).
Show the presenter and the presentation
They’re Not in the Room
Just keep in mind that your online audience is of course not in the room, so whatever you show them is what they see. I know that sounds extremely basic, but it’s worth remembering as it leads me to the next point.
Show the Presentation
Too many times have we watched live streams and the presenters are saying “This is how many downloads we have had in the past month.” The people in the auditorium start clapping, we see close-ups of people on their feet applauding, but the one thing we don’t see is the actual number.
If the presenter is talking about their presentation then it’s probably best to show that actual presentation to everyone. This way, the live streaming audience are happy too!
We do lots of tech conferences where live coding (or coding examples) appear on the projection screen. It’s particularly important to show this to the audience, preferably a direct feed from their laptop as this will give the best quality. A wide camera showing the projection screen doesn’t always show the detail.
Watch out for copyright music
“This video is not available”
We’ve had this happen, unfortunately. It’s not easy to make sure no music will leak on to your stream.
You can get away with it sometimes on a short live stream, but if it’s an all day event, you may have to create a new event and point your stream to that instead. What a hassle.
Our favourite thing to do is to ask the venue's audio engineer to give us a full audio mix, minus the auditorium music. For the most part, microphones are muted during breaks, so this method is pretty full proof to avoiding songs finding their way onto your stream.
Live Stream Break
We made a video about how we do live stream breaks and a big part of it is to fully mute the audio to your stream during all breaks. This way you can be sure that you won’t have an issue.
Music in a Presentation
Be prepared for the occasional presenter to have music on one of their slides. It’s good to check up front what their slideshow contains, but it’s not always possible.
A good idea is to see where in your live production workflow that you can mute audio to the stream in an emergency. We tend to mute the output of Wirecast for a few seconds if something like this happens.
Keep an eye on the chat room
We tend to use YouTube for our live streaming and it comes with a chat room. Our experience has been pretty positive overall, but that doesn’t mean the odd annoying person hasn’t slipped in.
Event Code of Conduct
It’s advised to remind the live stream audience that the chat room falls into the events Code of Conduct (if that’s the case for your event). This is a friendly reminder that people should be respectful and cooperative when commenting.
Reach out to the organisers of the event and see if one of them wants to be a moderator of the chat room (They will need a Google account). When you add them as a mod, they can remove comments, and reply to questions.
It’s Not All Negative
There is often helpful advice, creative comments and useful feedback in a live chat room, so don’t completely ignore it. Keep the chat following by answering people where possible!
Keep your audience informed
Live Stream Break
As mentioned above we made this video about how we show a short schedule to our live stream audience. It’s gotten great feedback about how helpful it is.
We suggest adding a countdown timer to the live stream when a break is happening. This gives the audience a rough idea of how much time they have to wait before the break is over. You can always update if things change.
It’s also nice to add a few relevant links in the video’s description and the chat room. Post a link to the full schedule, the official website, and whatever else you think people might need!
Those are our top tips for live streaming all sorts of events. Hopefully, you found them useful! We’ll be sure to add more when we run into any more issues!