Be Prepared: Plan for Virtual Event Technology Problems
According to Event Manager Blog, 71% of event organizers still plan to host online events to keep their virtual audience, even after physical events return. We agree that online live streaming events are here to stay! Since 2016, our LiveWired Streaming team has seen the number of virtual events explode — especially during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have worked with virtual events ranging from a 50-attendee non-profit annual meeting to an international multi-day conference hosting thousands of live event attendees.
Event planners who live stream or host virtual events understand that with virtual events you can get even more attendees than in-person events, the opportunities of promotion are limitless…but, in some cases, there’s even more room for virtual event technology issues than a traditional in-person event.
With virtual events, you are at the mercy of the event technology or streaming service and the people who are operating it. Luckily we have a team of professionally trained staff of technical gurus who love to go virtual and know what to do if something goes awry. But what do we do to prevent live stream event technology failures? Here’s how we plan ahead (and you can, too.)
Don’t Freak Out. Relax. And Be Flexible
Everyone knows that technology isn’t perfect — and your audience understands that, too. Always give yourself plenty of time to plan ahead for potential live streaming video or streaming software platform issues. You have a lot invested in your live broadcast event, and you’ll feel much better knowing you have contingency plans in place. And being flexible is key.
If you can adapt in those “oh %$^#@!” moments, your guests will appreciate the fact their virtual event experience was a pleasure, despite any whoopsies. And often they won’t even know something hit the fan! (So just wipe that bit of sweat off your brow and relax.)
Here are some things to help you prepare for the unexpected.
Backups of Backups of Backups
When you’re planning your online or live streaming event, you must have a backup plan. The day of your event, you are completely dependent on your virtual event technology platform and your internet connection working. No matter how skilled your event production team is, you are at the mercy of technology — which can always be unpredictable.
We always plan ahead for a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C for the virtual event platform we plan to use for the live streamed event. If your preferred virtual event platform fails for any reason, you need to have a plan on what you will use as Plan B. To be safe? We always like to have a Plan C, too.
We encourage event planners to schedule plenty of test sessions with the speakers to ensure there is plenty of time to work out any issues you may encounter ahead of time.
When you’re talking with your speakers about what they’re going to present during the virtual event, it’s natural to want your presenters to do their presentations live during the virtual event. As easy as this may seem during the planning stages, it’s actually one of the riskiest things to plan for. During live speaker presentations, you have no control over the presenter’s internet connection or their equipment at their location. Even if you test their setup ahead of time, there is no guarantee that everything will be the same during the live event as it was during the practice session.
We have learned that even the most experienced virtual presenters occasionally run into technical issues that they can’t fix on the fly. It’s always best to plan to have a pre-recorded copy of their presentation, just in case their connection fails. It’s also ideal to keep a copy of the PowerPoint slide deck and any video files the presenter may be sharing during the event. That way if the live presentation fails, you can pull up the recorded speaker’s session, and the audience will still get all the information.
Connection is Everything
We just mentioned how important the speaker’s internet connection is. Well, your studio or venue’s internet connection is even more important! In many instances, you may think the wireless internet connection is strong enough…but in most cases, you will find out it’s not. We always let event organizers know that it is best to have a hard-wired internet connection — and to also have a backup internet connection. (That may mean paying for another internet service provider to come in and install internet service in your office, studio or venue — even if it’s only for a short period of time.)
For example, in our studio, we have two high-speed internet providers that allow us to have multiple connections in case either one of the internet connections fails for any reason. This may not be possible at an external venue, but it’s always worth checking into.
Clear Communication Plan
From the moment you start planning your virtual event to the moment you send out your final survey results and post-event thank you emails, you want to have a clear communication plan for any technological issues that may come up between you, your event organizers, speakers and your attendees. For instance, what should your team do if there is an issue with an attendee sharing inappropriate comments in the chat? Or what if a speaker reaches out to your general event email right before their presentation because they’re not going to be able to join? It’s critical that you have someone (or several people) as points of contact that are able to communicate these types of issues with your production team. You also need to have a plan on how to handle these types of issues so that everyone is aware of what to do if these types of problems occur and who is responsible for managing these various types of issues.
Your attendees deserve to know what’s going on at all times. We recommend having a designated tech support contact during the event to ensure all attendees are able to get their questions answered and technical issues resolved. We also suggest that event organizers plan for at least one member of their team to be a feature contact in the streaming platform’s chat or messaging feature who can answer questions, send attendees relevant information and communicate with the attendees if there are any delays or technical issues that are going to require a change in the program.
There is always a small chance that a communication feature in your virtual event platform may not work for someone that is attending your event. Plan on having an external form of communication, like an email address or a phone number that people can call or text if they’re having technical difficulties. This contact information should be publicized to your event attendees on the live event FAQ web page or in an email that is sent to the attendees ahead of time. This external communication tool should also allow you to be able to contact attendees if necessary in the event of an emergency.
Plan Better For Next Time
If you made it through your virtual event broadcast, there’s a chance there was at least one technical hiccup that you had to work through. Take the time to do a post-event recap to discuss the live stream event. What went well? What went poorly? What do you want to fix for next time?
With every virtual event you produce, you should allow yourself grace for minor issues that come up and focus on the next opportunity you have to try something new that will work even better for your guests! Post-event evaluations to get honest feedback from your presenters, attendees and sponsors is a great way to get another perspective on the virtual event experience.
Don’t just send out a survey at the end of your virtual event and never look at them. It’s a great idea to truly strategize for your next virtual event based on the feedback from the people that attended your virtual event.
Lean on Event Technology Partners
For years, Wired Production Group has produced live, virtual, and hybrid events around the globe. Since virtual and hybrid events here to stay post-pandemic, find and lean on your event technology partners like us to stay relevant, engaging, and focused on delivering the best virtual event experience possible. Avoid the stress and allow us to help you manage your virtual live streaming event. We can help you create memorable experiences that will provide a lasting impression on your attendees. Connect with our team today.