Two business owners conduct virtual event about products
While in-person gatherings are making a comeback, adding a virtual component to your events allows your business to reach a wider audience for a minimal additional investment. — Getty Images/ supersizer

The market for livestreamed content boomed during COVID-19, with the entire industry growing nearly 100% between April 2019 and April 2020.

That demand isn’t about to disappear in the post-pandemic business world: Livestreamed virtual and hybrid events represent a safe, convenient and wide-reaching opportunity for consumers to engage with brands, often with impressive business results.

“People romanticize live events and in-person networking opportunities, but ‘virtual’ doesn’t mean ‘discount’ or ‘less,’” said Vincent Velasquez, co-founder and CEO of MediaCutlet, an event company that pivoted to virtual and hybrid events during the pandemic. “Because of online access, you might actually get more information or get the chance to network with more people because you can quickly chat and connect on LinkedIn.”

If you’re planning to make livestreaming a permanent part of your business event strategy, you will need to know the strategies involved and how to stream a live event.

[Read more: 7 Beginner Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtual Event]

Why businesses should livestream their events

Although live, in-person gatherings are making a comeback, businesses have learned that adding a virtual component to their events allows them to reach a wider audience for a minimal additional investment.

“Live event production is expensive,” said Velasquez. “I equate it to touring for a rock band. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have made it easier for artists to profit off their music or content than putting out an album and then hitting the road.”

For a fraction of the cost of producing a live event, business leaders can showcase their expertise and establish credibility as a thought leader while increasing engagement and reaching their target customer base. Velasquez also noted that offering sponsorship opportunities can help a business bring in additional revenue from virtual or hybrid events.

“There is equal or more value to sponsors and attendees in an online format,” he said.

As an added bonus, recordings of your livestreamed events provide you with plenty of video content to repurpose and share as marketing assets for your business.

Level with yourself on what you’re willing to learn to ‘do it yourself’ [versus] relying on professionals to help you achieve your goals. This goes for the user experience for your attendees as well as your own user experience as an event organizer.

Vincent Velasquez, co-founder and CEO of MediaCutlet

Tips for a great livestream

Here are some important steps to follow if you want to plan and produce a high-quality livestreamed event.

Choose the right platform

Will your audience be tuning in on a social media platform like YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, or are they more likely to join an event on a webinar or platform like Zoom? Explore your options and know where your target audience is most likely to engage with you and your brand. You’ll also want to determine whether your chosen platform has interactive elements like polling and live chat functionality for attendees.

Gather guest speakers and additional media assets (if applicable)

Some livestreamed events include guest speakers, still images, voiceovers and pre-recorded video content. Make sure all these elements are in place and finalized well before your event date.

Invest in a strong internet connection and tech setup

A fast, reliable internet connection is the most important factor in a good livestream. Beyond that, you should have the proper technology equipment to deliver a high-quality stream, including a good laptop, professional camera(s), a microphone, studio-style lighting and more.

[Read more: 5 Expert Tips for Improving Video Streaming Quality]

Market your event

Spread the word on your website, email newsletter, social media channels and other communications platforms to drive attendance and engagement.

Do a test run before you go live

Test your internet connection and all tech equipment prior to your stream. If you or your presenters are broadcasting from a home office, be sure each person has a quiet, private space for their setup to ensure minimal background noise and interruptions.

Ask for help if you need it

Technically, all you need to start streaming is an internet-connected mobile device; however, quality matters to online viewers (more than half of viewers will abandon a low-quality stream within 90 seconds, according to TechRadar), so it’s important to be honest with yourself about your own streaming knowledge, resources and technical capabilities.

“Level with yourself on what you’re willing to learn to ‘do it yourself’ [versus] relying on professionals to help you achieve your goals,” said Velasquez. “This goes for the user experience for your attendees as well as your own user experience as an event organizer.”

The future of live events in the post-pandemic world

Businesses that thought virtual events would wane after COVID-19 may be intimidated about investing fully in a digital event strategy. Velasquez said it’s common to feel anxious about this new format, but eventually, it will become as common as other forms of digital content we now consume on a daily basis.

“Everyone used the phrase ‘new media,’ when print shifted to digital offerings like online subscriptions and video, but it wasn’t really ‘new media’ — it was a phrase to make people feel more comfortable with change,” Velasquez told CO—. “The same thing is happening here in the virtual/hybrid world. At some point, we will stop calling it virtual or hybrid and it will just be an event or networking opportunity.”

[Read more: 9 Lasting Changes Small Businesses Can Expect Post-Pandemic]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Brought to you by
Simplify your startup’s finances with Mercury
Navigating the complex finances of a growing startup can be daunting. Mercury’s VP of Finance shares the seven areas to focus on, from day-to-day operations to measuring performance, and more.
Read the article