Handy tips to ensure things go smoothly.
By Andrei Petrik
If you decided to live-stream your event online, choosing the right online streaming platform is crucial to ensuring your audience receives a top-notch experience. On the basic level, most of the mainstream online streaming services (Livestream, Ustream and Justin.tv) provide similar features, such as standard-definition video, ability to view the stream on mobile devices, and live chats. However, these services vary in available options (once you upgrade through different account levels), which will affect your audience’s experience.
Before testing out platforms, you must understand your audience. How many of them do you expect to join the online feed? How will they be connecting? Where will they be watching the stream? How will they be watching it? Do they want a password-protected feed? Answering these types of questions will help you screen for the right set of features and pick the right platform.
If your audience will be logging-in using a variety of connection speeds, you may want to consider Livestream, since it offers adaptive video playback. This allows the end users to enjoy uninterrupted video feed, because the playback adjusts to the type of user’s connection speed and other conditions. If your client and audience are concerned with protecting their content, many of the leading platforms offer features that allow you to create private channels. Both Livestream and Ustream, for example, enable broadcasters to create custom channels with their own branding; restrict access, including geo-blocking; and configure the look and feel of their channels. Another feature to consider is the ability to switch between live video feed and your screen. This enhances the audience’s experience, since they will be able to view on-screen content, such as PowerPoint presentations, in greater detail.
Before committing yourself to a platform, put yourself in your audience’s shoes and begin testing out all leading services. Watch a few live broadcasts yourself and pay attention not only to the feed quality, but how well the broadcast is presented. Is the channel littered with ads and popping banners everywhere? Is the channel design too cluttered? How easy is it to access the feed? How intuitive is its use? Asking yourself these questions will help you identify any obstacles that your audience might encounter.
After you’ve picked a platform, invest time rehearsing and preparing for the big event. Practice setting up your equipment and enabling feed. Take notes and make a checklist. Knowing your setup and equipment will ensure your audience views the event as soon as you click the ‘broadcast’ button. An important step during the rehearsal broadcast is to experience the online stream on various devices. Enlist the help of your team members, even friends or family, to help you screen for quality issues on different devices.
Delivering an excellent audience experience is more than having all technical capabilities. You must be able to engage them by using the chat system as the feedback loop. Just because they’re on the other side of the world doesn’t mean they cannot participate. As the broadcast of your event goes live, be sure that you or one of your team members participate during the live-stream. This will allow you to monitor for quality issues, but more importantly, you will have the unique ability to interact with the audience.
Having the right technology and reliable access to the Web is just one component of delivering a smooth live-stream. Your willingness to learn and experiment with different live-stream service providers will help you find the right platform for your unique audience. Investing time to practice for the live event will enable you to address any challenges quickly. Adding a layer of interactivity with your online audience will win you fans. But to earn a standing ovation, you must bring all these components together in one uninterrupted live-stream.