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DANiEL WiLLiS, blog


Anyone that has given a live presentation knows that good planning can help avoid embarrassing mistakes. If at the end of a program, the audience has not noticed any glaring errors, then your time on stage can be judged as a success.

Now add to that the technical errors that can occur while streaming the event and you have just doubled the opportunities for chaos.

Starting with power sources, are yours reliable? What happens if a power source gives out halfway through your live stream? Do you have a back up? Since a battery powered live stream is not an option, what is your contingency plan for powering al your devices?

Backing up servers can reduce the risk of a critical error in your live stream. Since the dawn of the computer age it has been a self-evident truth that computers will crash. Will your servers switch seamlessly if one happens to fail? If no one would notice the change over, then no one would be jarred, losing focus on the message being related.

Can your servers handle the anticipated audience size? What if you have double or triple the anticipated viewership? Ten times? One hundred times? You may not get the 1.4 million viewers of Super Bowl 50, but if viewers begin tweeting that they can’t get your feed, that is going to hurt your reputation and online collateral.

If you are using a local wifi, your control is now removed by one step. Whatis your contingency if that fails. Some wifi in institutional settings have timers on them to limit use. Did you ask? Do you know who to ask? If everything is going fine until 20 minutes into the show and you are booted off the wifi, how long would it take you to get back up and running?

With technology, a good plan complete with back-ups, are easy enough to put in place. Servers and power supplies are not prone to bouts of emotion and petulance.

What do you do for instance if two days before your event, you talent tells you that she will not present and does not give her consent for her image to be used on a live stream. Did you assume that there was not going to be an issue getting a release form signed? Do you have release forms?

People can cause headaches, but here a checklist can help prevent your world from crashing down.

On your check list, the name and contact information of all interested parties including talent should be at the very top. Moderators, guests and VIPs each could be a no-show or a late show. Having them arrive at the location of the live stream an hour before the event will give you enough time to corrall them or make other plans if they fail to keep their commitment.

That checklist must also include pre-show set-up time, doors open time, start and stop the webcast time, microphones for all the panellists, water, visual aids; the list is long!

Then of course there is the issue of compatibility. PowerPoint presentations are quite common. Are the guest presenters sure their formats suit the live stream?

Unless yours is a simple webcast, you may be wise to leave it to the pros! Streaming video live is full of roadblocks and traps. Very often it is an event, and a good event planner never omits details!

The term no-fail mission comes from the military. It means that when the military is on a no-fail mission, you can bet the mission gets accomplished regardless of other outcomes.

For a live stream, it is a code of conduct that includes industry best practice. Whether there are a few dozen or a few thousand people tuned in to watch your webcast, it is your reputation on the line, should the transmission not be available as scheduled or be lost in the middle!

Losing a signal completely is not the only danger of course. It may be a lost microphone, a laptop that freezes, a lost PowerPoint file – point is, the viewers want to watch and be informed and expectations of a disruption-free experience are high.

Rehearsals tend to scatter the bugs and prove that the plan for the live web show is resolute and ready. But, rehearsals are not always included in project timelines due to talent availability, budget pressures and even planning.

The assurance of a no-fail mission from a reliable supplier for an on line video production depends on their general experience, the reliability of their equipment , and most importantly, the talent of their people.

A single camera connected to the internet and streaming pretty pictures is unlikely to give you issues, unless that single unit quits in the middle of the webinar and no back-up is available. (Then, if you have no tech support around to revive the camera and the live stream, you may as well just step out for a coffee).

The weakest link is the equipment and the best option there is going in, is knowing it was checked first before set-up and operation of the stream.

Server redundancy is on the same list of equipment fail potential. Most suppliers provide redundancy as an option; but be sure to ask.

Do a check list of the event for all those bothersome things that can land you in hot water. Ask when do the doors open, is a coffee break scheduled, is the audio set and in place, where will we put the camera so there is a clear view (but not obscure the stage for anyone attending)?

Planning a function that is to be streamed live should be a no-fail mission when you keep a clear head and perhaps get some assistance with the event, where needed.

When facing a television camera, most people feel at least a little intimidated. It can feel awkward to have the barrel of a lens in your face and bright lights about you. But you can turn that anxious enery around to have a positive impact on your presentation.

Preparation is key (rehearse for all events!) and that includes what not to wear when you are in the hot seat for a television interview.

Go for some colour in your choice of clothing for your upper body. Forget wearing all black or, for that matter all white. Black makes you disappear into a hole. If the backdrop is black or even quite dark your troubles with black will be multiplied. White is too bright, will reflect camera lights and possibly mess with your skin tones. Black pants (or skirt) will work, but use some colour for the top half.

Avoid small patterns such as pin stripes, tweed or polka dots. Cameras are superior technologically, but those tiny patterns can make your outfit syncopate with the camera and the result is a strobing (fluttering) from your finer prints.

Wear crisp, clean clothes that are comfortable. A new suit/outfit purchased just for the interview, may prove to be uncomfortable and have you feeling stiff, translating to how well you express yourself.

It is not uncommon to be told to take along a change of clothes because you are unsure what will look best.

Nothing wrong with this idea if a change room is available.

Above all, ensure your appearance is congruent with how you want to come across. A message that is serious requires appropriate dress.

You may, however, be promoting a fun event. Then it is best to leave the dark suit at home and look as if you too will be out to enjoy the good times.

Casual wear is fine and even more so with pastel colours. (They look great on television!). Pastels can tend to make you feel and look younger and that may be best – unless you have been recruited as an expert and need the business professional look.

It will help your overall performance if you are comfortable in your own skin - appropriately covered in clothes that make you feel fine!

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