Go Hybrid: A Live Streaming Cheat Sheet

This article was written (well, ghostwritten by me in collaboration with Dave Lutz) for Dave’s People & Processes column in PCMA’s June edition of Convene.

You’ve convinced your team that providing a hybrid event is good for your organization, your customers and your stakeholders. You’ve alleviated any fears about the virtual experience cannibalizing your face-to-face revenue. You’ve researched how other companies have used hybrid events successfully to serve their members and positively impact future face-to-face events.

Here’s what you need to know to live stream and extend the reach of your best live meeting content.

You know that a hybrid event will:

  • Extend the reach of your meeting’s messages and content
  • Increase ROI for a remote audience that would not normally attend the face-to-face experience
  • Improve your membership value proposition
  • Reduce your remote participants’ carbon footprint
  • Help convert fence-sitters from remote attendees to live participants.

You’ve weighed all the options of the following five types of hybrid events:

  1. Audiocast — telephone-based conference, sometimes with live Q & A
  2. Bannercast — video broadcast in an in-banner ad using streaming technology
  3. Backchannel — on-site and remote attendees communicate together about the face-to-face experience, sometimes done through Twitter using a hashtag
  4. Live Streaming — live audio and video of face-to-face presentation streamed via the Internet
  5. Slidecast — a set of slides broadcast over the Internet with synchronization of video and audio effects

After careful consideration, you’ve decided that your hybrid event will use a live stream of the general session speakers, along with a moderated backchannel to engage the participants.

Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need to live stream your face-to-face experience to your remote audience:

  • Digital camera
  • Venue with Internet access of at least 512 kbps
  • Interface hardware for digital camera to computer
  • Laptop or PC
  • Online live-streaming provider (there are a variety of free and fee-based options)
  • Permission from your speakers and panelists to live stream their presentations
  • Twitter hashtag for the backchannel

Here’s how the live-streaming process works:

  1. Film the event and send it in real time to an online provider via the Internet.
  2. The online provider software encodes, compresses and formats video.
  3. The online provider transmits video to servers.
  4. The video rebroadcasts in real time.

Make sure you check with your meeting venue as well as equipment and service providers before committing to live streaming an event.

Here are 10 questions to consider and to ask your event partners before proceeding with live streaming: 
  1. How is the room set?
  2. What’s the ambient lighting like?
  3. Will someone be behind the camera or will it be stationary on a tripod or from a webcam?
  4. What’s your Internet access?
  5. How fast is your Internet connection?
  6. Do you have appropriate PC hardware interface?
  7. What live streaming online provider do you use?
  8. Is your online provider broadcasts password-protected?
  9. Does your online provider integrate with social networks?
  10. Are you going to charge for virtual participants? If yes, just nonmembers or members too? And how much?


Now that you have your logistics covered, it’s time to think strategically about the differences between your face-to-face and remote audiences. You can’t expect your virtual audience to have the same experience as your face-to-face attendees. We’ll focus on what you can to do onsite to improve your remote audience’s experience while maintaining a quality experience for those attending in person in the next column in Convene.

This post was reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. © 2010

What logistical live streaming tips would you add to this list? What live streaming resources have you found beneficial?

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Hurt, psalinger, PlannerWire Staff, PlannerWire Staff, theexpogroup and others. theexpogroup said: Or u could just call me & @emiliebarta 😉 RT @jeffhurt Go Hybrid: A Live Streaming Cheat Sheet #eventprofs #pcma http://ow.ly/2dyjQ #inzone […]

  2. If you’d like to view a free webcast, here’s a link to the presentation on how to create a hybrid that Mike McCurry and I gave for PCMA:

    I’m also happy to share a tips document that I created for speakers addressing a remote audience:

    And, finally, two more little tidbits if you don’t have time to coach your speakers:
    Add your event hashtag to your Powerpoint template
    Put a smiley face next to the camera to remind speakers to speak to the remote audience too 🙂

    Midori Connolly, Chief AVGirl

  3. Doh, sorry to take up so much room in your comments…I forgot a few things!

    If possible, use a “media rich” or slide-synched platform for your webcasts so that your remote audience can see the slides too. Otherwise make sure they are available for download.

    I will have a platform evaluation checklist available on our website after my presentation to WEC this coming Sunday. The session is free for MPI members to view. But it’s at 8:30 am PST. yuck!

    Boy do I love doing hybrid meetings!! Jeff, if you know anyone with any questions or needs advice from the AV or tech standpoint, I’m known for giving it out freely…

  4. Great post, Jeff! I love the concise check list to get people started. I would add the idea of producing video highlights for the virtual audience who can’t participate in real time. If viewers can’t be a part of the action live, they can see and hear highlights online.
    Also– it’s important to remember that most elements of a hybrid event can be sponsored, creating a new stream of revenue for the organization.

  5. Gr8! This article and blog post are a HUGE help for all of us out there exploring how to tap (and tame) the Backchannel Beast! Thanks so much!!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      You always add so much great insight and thought to these discussions. Thank you for taking that the time to do that! We love it!

      Great point to consider sponsorships for your hybrid events. So glad you added that!

      Thank you for reading and adding your thoughts. Yes, the backchannel can become a beast. It’s so important for conference organizers to have a team to listen to, monitor and engage with those in the backchannel.

  6. […] we looked at the logistics needed for a successful hybrid event. That live streaming cheat sheet addressed the five types of hybrid events, provided a check list of what you need for live streaming […]

  7. […] So, without further ado, get out of here and go read Jeff’s post on Digital and Virtual Event Technology and make sure to pay attention to the links that he provides because each is important in its own way, especially the Cheat Sheet. […]

  8. […] Here’s a quick cheat sheet on the basics of live streaming – what you need and questions to ask vendors. Watch for our post on what the answers to those questions should be. http://velvetchainsaw.com/2010/07/19/go-hybrid-live-streaming-cheat-sheet/ […]

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