Event Webcasting Guide [2020]

A webcast or web event is a broadcast that is conducted using the Internet rather than a satellite for transmitting to audiences anywhere in the world where access to adequate high-speed Internet is available.  Presentations can be filmed live on video camera(s) and broadcast in real time using streaming media technology (video, sound and data) to remote audiences or viewed on-demand by individuals or groups at a later time.  Contracting with a trusted and reliable audio visual service provider is highly recommended.  Bring them into the planning process early and rely on their recommendations for the equipment and services needed for the best results. 

Interactivity between groups at different locations over the Internet is complex, so webcasts are primarily used for one-way transfer of information filmed live of a keynote address, panel of speakers, performance, general session, and so on.  Although image quality and reliability are always at risk when broadcasting video over the Internet, webcasting is less costly than transmitting to a private Wide Area Network (WAN) or a satellite.  Verification in advance of adequate Internet speed at each connecting site will be vitally important, and a back-up plan must be in place in case there is a disruption or failure of the broadcast.  

Registration and access to the webcast will typically be handled by your own resources using your database and registration software or spreadsheets.  It is possible for individuals to produce informal webcasts without the assistance of professional tech support, but for most business or high level purposes it is advisable to rely on professionals to produce and troubleshoot your event.

Cost of a webcast or web event is dependent upon the level of technical expertise and equipment required to produce the type of event you desire, plus the meeting or event facilities needed if production is to occur before a live audience for distribution in real time to other groups.   Webcasts or web events can also be viewed by an unlimited number of participants from desktop computers or mobile devices once they receive a direct link or access code.  

Event Webcast Advantages

  • Less expensive than satellite broadcasting
  • Great way to reach a large number of participants gathered in multiple locations
  • Webcast can be transmitted in real time to large or small groups gathered in various locations
  • Also possible to view in real time by individuals sitting at computers or using mobile devices
  • Ideal for one-way communication of keynote speeches, general sessions, panel discussions, etc.
  • Webcast can be recorded for access on-demand by groups or individuals

Event Webcast Disadvantages

  • Professional audio visual and communications specialists required for high level results
  • Specialized equipment and adequate bandwidth required for media streaming over the Internet
  • Higher risk of disruption, distortion or failure of transfer when using the Internet rather than satellite
  • Standard Definition (SD) images may degenerate if enlarged to fit room-sized screens
  • Two-way interactivity between audience(s) and the presenter(s) will be limited or non-existent
  • Qualified troubleshooters recommended at every group receiving sites
  • A backup program advisable in case webcast transmission is interrupted or unsuccessful
  • Can be very expensive depending on how many sites are to receive the broadcast
  • Not all web browsers will work the same

Event Webcast Checklist

  • Contract with trusted audio visual professionals for high level results
  • Consult with them early in your planning process before a site selection for production is finalized
  • Select a light- and temperature-controlled environment for production room or auditorium
  • Provide video camera(s) – can be stationery, remote-controlled or free-standing
  • Arrange for microphones, audio speaker system, sound mixer, adjustable or specialty lighting
  • Verify adequate broadband width is available for transfer of High Definition (HD) video over the Internet
  • Select appropriate projector for type of video used – Standard Definition (SD) or High definition (HD)
  • Arrange for computer monitors and/or audio visual screens for group viewers
  • Give advance notice to viewers of computer system and high-speed Internet requirements
  • Verify that detailed instructions and contact info for questions distributed in advance to all presenters
  • Develop your own detailed checklist using Planning Helper’s free sample as a guideline

The checklist samples provided by Planning Helper are incomplete and meant for use as guidelines to help you create checklists of your own that will apply to the unique needs of your meeting, event or function. 

About the Author

Susan has managed high-profile events for IBM, GE, and other Fortune 500 companies. She has organized fundraisers, large festivals, and promotional events. Now, she is a blogger and speaks about event planning topics

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