5 mistakes to avoid when live streaming an event
So you’ve decided to stream your next live event. You already know there are plenty of benefits to live streaming, but how can you ensure you make it a real success and get the most from your setup?
Picking the right equipment for the job, using a suitable hosting service and a little preparation goes a long way to ensuring your live stream looks and sounds great for all of your audience, but if you’re not sure where to begin, this can seem a little daunting.
To help get you started, we’ve got some practical tips that will help you avoid 5 common mistakes made when streaming a live event.
Poor video quality
The main benefit of streaming your event is that people from any part of the country (or indeed, anywhere in the world) who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend, can see it live. It’s important though, that these viewers are able to watch a good quality stream. If the footage going out is blurry, too dark, lagging or pixelated, your viewers are going to be far from impressed and will ultimately switch off.
Here are a few things you should consider when preparing your video:-
- Video Quality – This is a bit of a double-edged sword. You may think that as long as you have full HD video then you will be fine, but you should think about who your viewers are. They may be viewing your stream on slow connections or have limited data so you need to find the optimum middle ground to please all your viewers. As a guide, you should aim to stream at half your total upload speed.
- Lighting – Think about the location and time of the day for the event. Is there an abundance of natural light? If not, then you may have to consider the use of lights. Your live stream will suffer if it is too dark to see anything, regardless of the quality of the footage.
- Frame Rate – If there will be a lot of movement in your stream, then having a higher frame rate will ensure that you get smooth playback but it will consume more bandwidth. You may not need as high a frame rate as you think. For example, if you are streaming a Church service, instructional video or conference you could use a frame rate around 15fps and this would still produce relatively smooth images.
Your live stream could be running in full HD with good lighting and you’re presenting a great visual for your audience, but this will all mean very little if they can’t hear you. Audio quality can make or break a live stream.
When you are setting up your audio, think about:-
- Equipment – We would recommend that you consider using an external microphone. While the majority of cameras on the market have internal microphones, the audio quality will struggle to match external microphones. Picking a camera that has audio inputs is very beneficial.
- Monitor the audio – Try plugging in a headset so you can listen to what your audience will be hearing, making adjustments when needed.
- Mic placement – If you decide to use an external microphone it is important that you try and place it as close to the source as possible. For example, in a lecture you should place the microphone right in front of the speaker and remind them to stay close when possible. It would be a good idea to experiment with different locations to determine what works best for you.
- Background noise – While this can be out of your control sometimes, the hum of electronic devices such as computers or ambient noises like bird calls can be surprisingly audible on your stream. Think about where you are hosting the stream and if these extra noises can be avoided.
Not being prepared
Once you have collected all your equipment together it is important that you test it – preferably, more than once! You should plan the running of the session, looking closely at the areas that may prove problematic. You don’t want to have everything set up and ready to go but find that your microphone does not work or you have the wrong cables.
Here are some important tests you should do before you go live:-
- Check connectivity – While your stream may run seamlessly at the office, this might not be the case for your chosen venue. You need to investigate and see what internet connection is available. Is there a line that can be dedicated to the stream beyond a WI-FI signal? Is the internet speed fast enough for you? Test connectivity at the location before committing to using it to ensure it’s suitable.
- Charging batteries – It is surprising how often this is overlooked. If you are not using a dedicated power supply, you need to make sure that devices such as laptops using batteries are fully charged.
- Audio – Plan to arrive early so you can conduct sound checks. Use stand-ins to get a more accurate idea of what your live stream audience will hear.
- Test your stream on all devices –With the growing number of platforms that people can view video on such as, PCs, tablets, phones and smart TVs, it’s a good idea to test how your stream looks on a variety of devices.
- Practice – A practice run beforehand will let you identify anything that might prove problematic when you go live. It is also a good way to get feedback – invite your friends or colleagues to view your practice stream and ask them if anything can be improved.
Picking the wrong hosting service
Making this mistake could hamper your efforts; even if you have considered your video and audio options, tested all your equipment and completed multiple practice runs. This is because the hosting services differ in the features supported and ease of use, e.g. setting up accounts or downloading software to view the stream as apposed to being supplied a direct link.
There are a multitude of hosting services available with some being more suitable than others for your application. Some services have their limitations and costs vary depending on what subscription you opt for.
Here are the few different examples of hosting services you can use for your live stream:-
- Livestream – One of the most popular hosting services available – it is suitable for a range of different events including corporate, conferences, worship and education. They offer 3 packages – Basic, Premium and Enterprise. The basic package is limited compared to the other packages but the price difference does reflect that, so look through the features available in each package and see which best fits your needs.
- Ustream – A big attraction for Ustream is that the service allows dialogue between viewers and the presenter – handy for Q&A sessions. Prices are based on viewing hours with each package offering more hours, so it would be a good idea to calculate how many hours you will need in a month.
- YouTube live – This hosting service is completely free, only requiring that your account is in good standing and verified. This service also comes with a live chat service that can be moderated easily by either assigning moderators or using keywords. A good option if you are planning to do a lot of streams, but there is an 8 hour single stream limit and every time you stop / start the stream you will receive a new URL which can cause issues for your viewers.
- Skype – This service would not be suitable for big events such as lectures or church services as it is primarily an online chat and Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) service but it does have useful features for video conference calls. You can add up to 25 people to one group chat for free if they also have Skype.
- Restream – If your aim is to get your stream to as many people as possible then this hosting service is one to consider. Restream is a cloud multi-streaming service that allows you to stream your content to over 30 streaming platforms simultaneously including, YouTube and Ustream.
Not informing your audience
After going to all the effort of setting up your live stream, you want to be sure that your content is getting maximum exposure. This can be difficult if no one knows about it! The internet is vast and full of other content creators, so you can’t assume that when you go live that users are going to be able to find you easily. Like any other event – it will require promotion to increase attendance.
Here are a few ways to promote your event:-
- Social – If you have built up an audience on your social platforms, you have already done most of the hard work. Your followers are more than likely going to be your target audience, so start promoting to them. Explain what benefits they can expect from tuning in and let them know where and when it is taking place. If you want to reach a wider audience, you could also consider using social media ads to target potential new viewers that match specific demographics or interests.
- Blogs and email – Think about creating blogs that discuss topics from your event, prompting readers to sign up to view your live event for a more detailed discussion. Email marketing is also an effective way to grow your attendees list. Using email marketing platforms such as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, you can send multiple emails promoting your event whilst tracking open rates and link clicks. Using this data you can better target your emails and see which content has had the most engagement.
- Event reminders – Once your attendees have signed up it’s important to make sure they remember the event. It could be weeks before the actual event and if they aren’t reminded along the way it can be easy to forget. Send an email a week before that simply advises the event is coming up. If you decide to use a service such as Eventbrite, it will automatically send a reminder the day before to everyone who has signed up.
To see the real benefits of live streaming, you’ll need to choose the right camera, ensure you’re sending out a high quality stream and avoid making the mistakes listed above. Remember though – your stream is LIVE so not everything may go to plan, but the better prepared you are, the more easily you can cope with something unexpected.