6 Things to Know When Organizing a Live, Remote Video Event
Earlier this year, 1,044 employees supporting Sharp’s B2B business in the U.S. logged on to Microsoft Teams to attend the company’s annual kickoff event, remotely. The annual event is traditionally an opportunity for Sharp employees from around the country to get a chance to hear from top leadership about the company’s successes of the previous year, priorities for the coming year, as well as re-acquaint themselves with colleagues from across the country. This year, due to COVID-19, Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America decided to hold the event virtually, and while it would have been difficult to do the type of in-person networking that a regular event of this kind would normally have, Sharp wanted to at least make the two-hour virtual event as close to an actual in-person event as possible.
Sharp’s media team, who worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that virtual attendees received the best experience possible, gave some tips to help pull off a successful online meeting of this scale:
Keep it Lively:
Instead of simply showing PowerPoint slides on a screen, intersperse a B-roll of employees showing off cool aspects of their home offices or doing a bit of show-and-tell about how they are able to stay productive outside of the office. When the main presenters show PowerPoint slides, have them give the presentation in the meeting room, just as if they were at an in-person conference. Keeping employees engaged is the key to making virtual meetings interesting.
Keep it Spontaneous:
Although it was tempting to pre-record the entire two-hour meeting, pre-recording or pre-rehearsing would have taken away some of the spontaneity of an in-person event. The Media team set up their “studio” in the middle of Sharp’s huge atrium, and as each speaker’s turn came up, they stepped in front of the camera on the stage. “Keeping it live provided an immediacy to the event that a pre-recorded event would not have had,” said Media Production Director James Campion. “All of the presenters knew that they had to be on by noon and that they were going to be interacting.” James added that having a moderated panel talking through some of the topics that were on everyone’s mind, such as when we were going to come back to the office, was also key to keeping that live feel.
Just Be There:
The event had multiple speakers that needed to provide the team with copies of their presentations before the event. On top of this, close to 20 different recordings, some from employees showing off their home offices, and some from various Sharp leaders stationed around the country who were giving quick updates about their sections, needed to be compiled prior to the event. Daily follow up notes as well as constant reminders helped move the content of the presentations so that eventually the team had everyone’s input.
Invest in the Right Technology and Teach People How to Use It:
In order to keep participants’ recordings up to par and of the same quality as the live streams, the team sent out prosumer video cameras along with external microphones, tri-pods and card readers to those presenting who were not able to come to the office. Along with the cameras, they included detailed instructions on how to use them, which lighting to use, how to dress, etc.
Be flexible: Everyone knows the saying,
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” This is especially true for a live production, whether it takes place in Hollywood or in a company studio. Making sure that the team has the right tools to be able to handle any mishaps on the fly is key. Prior to the Sharp event, headsets and walkie talkies were distributed among the team so that everyone could always be in touch with each other. Also, it was important that each person on the team had only one job. This helped ensure that the person could focus solely on their responsibility. Whether it was having one person controlling the cameras, one person switching the video feed from each camera while another the audio, and one more making sure that the presentation slides were moving at the right pace, each person in the production team had one job so that they could focus on that job.
Have a Producer:
Whether you are holding a meeting or webinar with 30 people or 1,000, it is important to have someone running the event who is not a presenter. This ensures that the presenters are focused on presenting while the producers are focused on making sure that it goes smoothly. During the Sharp event, presenters in the atrium stood in socially distanced areas and waited for their turn to speak, while the production team made sure that they gave the presenters their cues, that the video and audio feeds were running smoothly and that everything was being mixed correctly.
While meeting in person is definitely preferred by most, sometimes it is not feasible. In those cases, following these six helpful tips will help make sure your virtual meeting runs effectively, and your audience will be more engaged.