Why You Should Consider Webcasting Your Meeting

by Patricia Ahaesy on April 15, 2014

Speaker with picture in picture of Signer

Speaker with picture in picture of Signer

The world of meetings & special events has certainly changed in the last few years. As a matter of fact, it’s taken quite a beating, but clearly there continue to be major special events and meetings. For instance, those Oscar after-parties with all that swag still happen, there are still posh weddings, Fortune 500 Companies still hold their shareholders meetings and sales meetings. Right? Retail department stores have major events featuring celebrities who endorse clothing lines or fragrances.

But, what about other corporate and non profit events and the rest of the event world? A good portion of major internal corporate meetings – nationwide sales and marketing conferences , for example – have been downsized. Trade association conference attendance is way down in many industries. Educational and networking conferences are having trouble filling their seats. Why? Well, it appears that the conventional wisdom these days – which I feel is downright crazy – is to either stop spending money spend less on meetings and events. Stop spending to plan and produce, and stop spending on travel and the cost of registration. Just like many companies have cut down the marketing and advertising budgets.

I don’t have a degree in economics or business, but I do have one in education and that background taught me what is of utmost importance. All of the types of meetings and events that I just mentioned are a form of education and we need to find ways to extend the reach of learning and the opportunities derived from that learning.

A company or association – or any brand for that matter – must keep their name out there or soon they won’t exist.

For instance, trade associations rely on their meetings and Tradeshows for revenue and membership recruitment. Corporate America must bring their employees together to continue branding and educating from within. Large sales forces must be updated and trained.

What to do then? Extend the reach of those meetings in a strategic and cost effective manner. Several major companies have extended the reach of their meetings and now the rest must follow. As it happens, the education community has already led the way here.

How have they done this?

The answer is either webcasting your meeting, or creating a live hybrid event. This means broadcasting your meeting to your audience wherever they are, or even bringing in speakers and participants from different locations, all at the same time.  Attendees can have the same shared experience of a meeting, general session, or workshop. It also needs to be made available on demand for later viewing.

Webinars that display just a Power Point plus audio are flat and the viewer can easily get distracted and tune out, or just lose interest.

A phone conference tends to be difficult to capture the listener’s undivided attention. There’s no way of interacting easily. There’s nothing visual to focus on.

On the other hand, a live webcast of a panel discussion or general session can engage your audience. It can be made interactive as well, with real time Q&A, just as if everyone was in the same room. The attendees get the same benefits, but without the full cost of travel and hotels and their time away from the office and home.

 

With hybrid events, attendees in multiple locations can see presentations participants and speakers, enabling the kinds of experiences that aren’t possible when people can’t fly in from around the globe at the same time.

Anything companies do in large gatherings can be done with webcasting and hybrid events. Train staff globally – streamed live & on demand. Increase the scope of your workshops from a small conference room to as many participants as you want. The hybrid event concept is perfect for team-building. Press conferences and product releases can reach a global audience immediately, rather than waiting for that report to come out.

If you also need to derive revenue from your meetings or events, there are many ways to monetize. Why not offer a keynote free & charge a fee for sessions or charge a fee to non members of the association. Tis is also an outstanding for sponsor opportunity. Each conference is unique and methodology of fees to virtual attendees would differ.

The Webcast must be produced and staged professionally taking into account those attending face to face as well as those attending virtually. This need not be over the top staging, just good lighting and a sound with a simple background. But with a knowledgeable webcast or virtual meeting or hybrid meeting producer /manager you can stage the program so it is easy to see and hear.  Sounds simple, I know, but have you looked at some webcasts lately? I’ve seen some strange backgrounds and presenters dressed incorrectly for broadcast.

Just like any conference, objectives must be established. In the case of hybrid meetings, there are separate objectives for the overall conference and for the face-to-face and virtual audiences. This will take a great deal of planning and excellent communication amongst stakeholders and out-sourced webcasting producers and managers.

The flow of your webcast is critical, even more so than a basic live event. You must stay on track and to schedule. Just as the face-to-face event must be seamless, so must the webcast event. Perhaps even more.

My suggestion is to have a Host to interview speakers and key attendees during Session Breaks in order to keep your virtual audience online and tuned in to your event.

Part of the pre-planning can include developing games to involve your virtual audience. The caveat, however, is that the procedure and the games must be clearly explained to your virtual audience prior to the conference or event. If these are not explained well, they could fall apart.

You don’t have a second chance to keep your audience engaged so you absolutely must be sure that you’ve given the instructions clearly and have answered any questions about the procedure days before the event.

If the plan is to have regional or local pods, again, the procedures must be thoroughly explained in detail. Each pod must have a local facilitator who understands the process and is web savvy.  As a matter of fact, I‘d have a conference call with all facilitators to be sure that everyone is on the same page. That’s the time for procedural questions.

A webcast takes more strategical planning than just the face to face aspect. There are also technological issues of format and access. Be sure that you and your team are all wiling to take that on. Also be willing to look for the right people to do the webcast. You’ll need to find the right technology and production partner

Here’s what I suggest looking for when considering a partner for webcasting a live event.

You don’t need to write this down as I will make it available on my blog page.

1-    What is their experience in the meetings/events industry?

2-    Do they have someone on their team who understands meetings and events planning and management best practices?

3-    Does their team have an experienced director and video cameramen?

4-    Can they shoot in high definition?

5-    Do they have backup equipment on site?

6-    Can they broadcast to all levels of computers as well as to smartphones and tablets?

7-    To how many virtual attendees can they broadcast?

8-    Can they broadcast internationally if needed?

9-    Will they make an on site visit to check the capability of the venue for bandwidth and reliability

10-Will the webcasting people meet with you to give you input and feedback for ways to engage the virtual audience

11-Will the webcasting people help you with planning and input for regional pods

12-Is the company full service rather than one that does just one thing? The full service background gives them a better overview of how a meeting is planned and produced and therefore can help you with the overall process making this successful.

I’ve hit upon just the highlights of streaming an event live as well as on-demand viewing. But, there is much, much more to this, but don’t let it intimidate you.

Start looking at the webcasting potential for your conference or event

pnventerprises.com/pnvwebcasts/

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5 tips For Planning A Successful Event

by Patricia Ahaesy on April 8, 2014

5 Tips For Planning A Successful Event

Whether you’re planning a major fund-raising gala, a networking event, a trade show, a store opening, or an anniversary party there are some things that should be done to assure that your are successful.

1- Have a Clear Objective a. What is the goal of the fund-raising gala? A specific dollar amount? Recognition of the cause? Recognizing people?

2- Determine Your Desired Audience

3- Determine The Type of Event a. Theme b. Seated Dinner, Reception, c. Entertainment

4- Budget a. The budget should be a range that is within reason, but so you can adjust

5- Venue a. Depends upon numbers 1-4,

There is a lot more, of course, but with the 5 tips you can now flesh out a plan. Whether you’re planning a party for 10, a gala for 500 or a trade show with 100 exhibits, the above should help.

Lastly, put together a team of people who you trust and respect.. As a client recently wrote to us, “It takes a village”.

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We have a guest blogger today. Andrea H. Gold is president of Gold Stars Speakers Bureau. Here Are Her Five Tips to Choosing the “Right” Speaker for Your Meeting or Event

It’s time to put together your meeting or event. The responsibility has fallen on your shoulders. So, you nail down the date. You do virtual or in-person site visits, select and contract the right property. You create a room block. You sample and select an ideal and budget-conscious menu. You arrange ground transportation. And you prepare to advertise the event. You have been busy to the max.

But wait! Something’s missing!  You have worked so hard to create a fine meeting experience. But, who is speaking at this event? Think about it. What is the one main thing that will be remembered after the event is done and over?

You probably guessed it. That’s right. It’s the speakers. The speakers are usually the main feature of the entire function.

Oftentimes, the people planning an event or meeting forget about – or put a low priority on – selecting the speaker(s). Yet, your entire function’s success will most likely depend on how well the speakers impact or connect with the attendees.

To ensure your function’s success, refer to these five tips when initially figuring out the “right” speaker.

  1. Determine the purpose of your speaker. This is paramount to taking the next steps. If you don’t know what you want, how will you choose? If you were thinking, “I’ll know the right speaker when I see him or her,” consider that a red flag. A speaker’s presentation will normally fit into one or a combination of these three types of messages.  Is this speaker here to motivate the troops? To entertain mainly? Or perhaps to educate? Or it could be a combination of these three main speaker functions.
  1. Establish your speaker budget. Do you know what funds are available for booking speakers? Have you factored in possible travel and lodging costs? Many groups ask for the moon, yet, when it comes time to actually contract a speaker, they realize they don’t have near the funds they thought. Be realistic. If working with a third party, such as a speakers bureau, be clear on what you really have to work with, so you don’t get choices beyond your budget.
  1. Determine any special requirements. Does your group consist of mostly older people? Are they mostly owners or in top management, or are they front-line people who deal directly with the customer? Is the audience comprised of mostly men or women? Are they mainly engineers and technical people or expressive, creative beauty-industry people, for example? Is the group going to include people both domestic and international? The art of picking the best speakers for your meeting depend on factoring in the special demographics and needs of your attendees.
  1. Make sure the speaker is available. Many times the planners involved may choose a speaker on paper or in thought. They think that their job is done. The group simply assigns someone to ‘go book that speaker.’ However, speakers are busy. They also have to factor in travel days, so their calendars are dynamic and full. If you know who you want to book and have a specific time and date, don’t hesitate to contact the speaker or speakers bureau ASAP to lock him or her in. One additional tip here: make sure your meeting site is locked in, so you don’t book a speaker, only to find out the site is not available on that date.
  1. Find speakers who work well with you. There are speakers, and there are speakers. Work with the ones who have your best interests in mind. Are they eager to help you create the best experience for the attendees? Do they bring value to the equation? Are they accessible and responsive?

The right or wrong match up of speaker to audience and the purpose of the meeting can make or break your event. A variety of other factors come into play when choosing the right speaker. These tips will help you get started. A list of additional considerations and checklists can also available in “How to Book a Speaker: A Decision Maker’s Guide.”

Choose your speakers well! Or, get professional assistance to help you choose the best for your specific meeting needs.  I wish you a wonderful, successful meeting, with the maximum speaker enjoyment and impact!

Andrea H. Gold is president of Gold Stars Speakers Bureau, providing speakers, celebrities and business resources worldwide for more than 25 years. She is co-author of numerous books, including the e-book, “How to Book a Speaker: A Decision Maker’s Guide” (2014). She also helps as moderator of a meeting planner Google group listserv for nearly 4,000 planners and meeting industry experts. Andrea, her speakers and books can be reached at info@goldstars.com or http://www.goldstars.com.

 

What Is the Purpose of your Event?

by Patricia Ahaesy on March 25, 2014

What Is The Purpose of Your Conference or Event? Have you been planning the same conference every year? Are you planning a new conference? Whichever response you have made to the above questions, the first step that you need to take is exactly the same:

What is The Objective or Purpose of the Event?

So often, many of forget this and like a robot just do all those steps to put together a well organized event, Yes, robots are getting smarter, like Watson, but we still must use our experience, logic and knowledge of planning, to do the very best job.

Consider this: you’ve been planning your company’s annual sales meeting for the past 5 or 6 years. Each succeeding ear, is a clone of the [past year, except for a couple of twists. Of course, your presenters may be different, but everything else is the same. The only difference that are noticeable, is you’re in a different city and therefore can have the golf outing at a different golf course, or your dine around has different types of choices.

When you first planned this meeting in collaboration with your Director of Sales, most likely, let’s say that it was at the beginning of the recession. Although, the economy is much better, are your topics and approach   the same as it was in 2008 or 2009? Maybe you need to reconsider your agenda.  Perhaps, you need to vary the types of presentations.  Did you stop using polling because it was too expensive? It just might be time to add that back, but using one of the many smartphone and tablet apps. IT’s so important to get immediate feedback.

Now that the economy is better isn’t possible your company bottom line is as well?

Why not increase your budget a bit (don’t go crazy now) and video record the sessions to be made available to stream on demand to everyone that attended. This way if your director of Sales thinks a region needs some additional sales help, one or more of those session videos could be used as tutorials. This is really easy and cost effective.

Maybe you haven’t increased your budget very much. Why are you still printing hard copies of the program? Consider having the entire agenda on your company intranet or a password protected page on the company website.

Mix things up a bit more. Do you consider teambuilding activities? Or interactive entertainment?  Of course, these would be with hour meeting objectives in mind rather than something mindless.

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Leverage TEchnology

by Pat Ahaesy March 20, 2014

We are surrounded by and use technology everyday. So, why are so many people afraid of it? Leverage technology, rather than avoid it. If an association or is small and therefore has a small budget, what often happens is that the small staff does far more work than it needs to using very little technology. […]

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Outsourcing Meeting and Event Planning – Part 2

by Patricia Ahaesy March 5, 2014

Outsourcing Meeting and Event Planning – Part 2 7. It’s not always possible to meet someone in person, especially if your program is out of town. However, depending on the budget and importance of your event, this is a very important step. And it’s a step that should be investeigated prior to narrowing your selected […]

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Outsourcing Event Planning

by Patricia Ahaesy February 11, 2014

 Outsourcing Event Planning Now that you’ve decided to outsource some or all of your event planning needs, you need to think about the following: Okay, now it’s time to estimate a budget. Based on your event objectives, it’s possible to create a general sense of how much it will cost for various elements of your […]

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Have You Ever Hired an Event Planner or Event Planning Company?

by Patricia Ahaesy January 30, 2014

Have you ever hired an event planner or event planning company? Do you need to hire an event planner occasionally or outsource on an ongoing basis. Whether it’s your first time hiring an outside event planner to help you with an event or not, it’s important to make sure you hire the right person or […]

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Branding Your Event

by Patricia Ahaesy January 27, 2014

 Branding Your Event A special event is a perfect method to tell the story of your company  as well as an opportunity to brand your company. Whether your meeting or event is an internal training or sales meeting, an awards event or an executive summit, every element of the meeting should be branded. Of course, […]

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Do Event Planners Take The High Road or The Low Road?

by Patricia Ahaesy January 17, 2014

 Do Event Planners Take The High Road or The Low Road? Event and meeting professionals are confronted with ethical decisions everyday. Ethics is one of those slippery words that’s often difficult to define. For different people, ethics means different things. Shouldn’t ethics be a standard? A few days ago, I read a NY Times article […]

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