Are you planning a virtual town hall for your organization? There are a few things you can do to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Virtual video-based meetings and events took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. And even as people return to the office, we are starting to see that it may make sense for some things that used to be in-person to remain in the digital realm.
Still, some businesses continue to have trouble hosting online events such as virtual town halls. Though organizations of all sizes could use some help getting the most out of the events, problems seem to multiply with size. Large corporations with thousands of participants can quickly run into quality issues and may even experience a total failure during an event. Here are five tips to make your virtual town hall successful every time.
1. Be Sure You Have the Bandwidth
Before inviting hundreds or thousands of people to view your live video, make sure that your network and systems can handle it. Most corporate networks are not designed for the massive strain of thousands of viewers accessing a live video stream at the same time. This can quickly lead to high latency, buffering, low-resolution images, unstable video, and dropped connections. Ultimately, poor network performance could completely sidetrack your event. Viewers may even get frustrated and log off or miss large parts of the meeting. It is nearly impossible to salvage a town hall once problems start, and usually only gets worse.
An overwhelming strain on the network can also cause other troubles beyond the video stream. In a worst-case scenario, you may find that other business-critical functions are negatively impacted during the live event due to the increased traffic. These issues are likely to continue even after live streaming is over.
If you’re using a platform like Microsoft Teams to run your live event, make sure that your enterprise content delivery network (eCDN) can integrate seamlessly with your video platform. An eCDN is crucial in helping to reduce bandwidth requirements and deliver high-quality video to every individual in your audience. Whether you are streaming out to an audience of 100 or 100,000, every employee can have a smooth video experience.
2. Test, Test, and Test
If you want to host a virtual town hall that goes off without a hitch, you need to test every aspect of your production. That means cameras, microphones, graphics, videos, and anything else that will appear on the screen or be heard on your audience’s speakers.
Now in the digital world, beyond all the usual pre-event checks, you will need to put your network to the test as well. It can be challenging to run your own network stress test to accurately estimate performance when all users are logged on. Fortunately, with a powerful eCDN like Ramp, you can run silent testing before your live event.
It’s just like a rehearsal for your network, the silent testing feature is a dry run to ensure everything is working as intended. A real live event will run transparently in your network, so you can get true insights and find any weak spots before the actual event. Silent testing helps you avoid unpleasant surprises for a successful town hall.
Once you feel comfortable that the technical end of your virtual town hall is taken care of, it is time to focus on your people and the roles they will play. Be sure that all your presenters are comfortable with their material and that moderators know how to handle their responsibilities.
Often people feel confident in their ability to present and moderate on a virtual stage, but you can’t be sure until everyone has a chance to run through it. Rehearsals allow you to identify problems, work out the bugs, and ensure that your event is excellent in every regard.
4. Plan for the Unexpected
The right eCDN can help you avoid the worry of network and bandwidth issues, but there are other blunders that could happen. A million other little things could go awry, causing you to deviate from the original plan. However, you can avoid the stress of the unpredictable by being prepared to make adjustments when things don’t go as planned.
Work with your team to talk through contingencies for unforeseen events. For example, what will you do if the next segment is not ready to go? If your next presenter isn’t prepared or a video won’t play, what will you do, and who will do it? Sometimes just knowing who will step in and move things forward is enough to keep things on track when something doesn’t go as planned.
5. Always Keep Learning
Virtual town halls might be new to many large organizations right now, but soon these will become the new norm for company-wide meetings. So, whether it is the first or fifth virtual town hall, you need to keep learning. The video insights collected during the event and feedback from your workforce will provide a wealth of knowledge.
Every next live event can be improved with the learnings from your most recent virtual event. Data and insights can help you to (1) better understand your audience, (2) reduce the likelihood of issues, and (3) enhance content and engagement. To run the best virtual town hall, you will need to master every aspect of the production. Never settle for satisfactory performance. Keep striving for better delivery so that you can communicate your message across with complete clarity.
Want to improve the quality of experience for your next town hall? But not sure which eCDN technology is right for your organization? The Ramp team can help with a free network assessment, or contact us to learn more.