Your 20 Step Checklist For a Great Live All Hands Stream
You’re responsible for your company’s live all hands stream. There’s a lot to be prepared for before you go live. There’s a lot to keep track of while the stream is live, and there are things to take care of once the broadcast is over.
I talked to Jahanzaib Bitou Mirza (Bitou), our Video Producer, to find out the steps he takes to make sure our all hands live streams are flawless.
This is the guy who is responsible for making sure that our CEO all hands addresses go out from our Montreal head office. The stream is viewed in our offices in Chicago, Portland, Austin, London, Berlin, and by many remote workers viewing on their computers or cell phones.
He also makes sure our webinars go out to the hundreds of folks who watch them live—on their computers or cell phones, as well. Bitou works closely with our IT department to make sure that everything runs smoothly, every time.
He’s been doing this for quite a few years, and he’s got it all down to a fine science. So let’s take a look at his 20 steps to a great live all hands stream so you can make sure you’ve got everything running smoothly every time.
1. Talk to the talent and understand their voice and the message of the presentation
Shooting video, especially live video, is about more than just making sure someone is in frame. It’s about understanding what they really want to be saying. Your CEO will want to be able to convey the message they’re trying to get across, and it’s up to you to establish the best way to do that on video.
Well in advance of the live stream, you should find out the CEO’s schedule, and book a couple of times in their calendar to make sure that you can talk to them about the final outcome. Now is when you’ll find out what the presentation will be like and how they’ll show it. Will they use a laptop? What’s the format of the presentation? Will you need to show another screen while the stream is live? These are all questions you need to have answered well in advance of the date of the live stream. Once you’ve got this figured out, it’s time to move on to the event location.
2. Visit the event location
There’s a reason why good location scouts are in high demand. It’s not just finding the right spot for a shoot—it’s also being able to convey what equipment will be needed, based on that location, and to assess any potential issues.
In a perfect world, every CEO address would happen in the same place, but the reality is that one month it could be in your headquarters, and the next time they’ll be in an auditorium in another city.
This is your chance to find out what you’ll need to bring to the location to be totally prepared. The more details you get before the event, the more prepared you can be on the day of the live stream.
3. Meet with your production crew sooner, rather than later
Whether you have your own in-house crew to work with, or you are going to be outsourcing some of the production (lights, camera setup/operation, audio), it’s essential to get your people together. It’s time to discuss roles and responsibilities, and make sure that everyone knows what’s expected of them.
4. List the gear you need
You’re all professionals and you know what you’re doing. That’s okay, make a list of the gear you need, anyway. It never hurts to be too prepared. The other option is to not be prepared enough and is probably not the one you want to take.
5. Set up the room
Once you’ve got everything together, it’s time to bring it all to the location (in some cases, if you have remote contributors, this will be locations), and get it all set up. It’s good to bring along someone who can stand in for the presenter—even better, if they have the time, it’s great to have the actual presenter in the room.
This isn’t always possible, though, so make sure that, at the very least, you’ve got a stand-in.
Bitou recommends a focus on audio. “Focus on your audio, then make sure your audio equipment is top-notch, and then test the audio again and again.”
It’s nice that people can see a high-quality video, but if the audio is not as good as it could be (which is to say, if it’s not amazing), then the experience is lost. So make sure you have the right equipment, and keep on testing until it’s better than you’d hoped in the first place.
6. Test it once. Then again. Then one more time
“Test, test, test.” This is how Bitou makes sure the live streams always seem so effortless. It’s because he and his team have taken the time to get rid of the bugs before the stream goes live. Find out what can go wrong, and be prepared to fix it before anyone notices.
Technical things like this don’t happen by chance—it’s all about testing.
The day of the production
7. Have the talent arrive early
Again, presenters, especially when they’re a CEO, have a tendency to be busy. Really busy. But it’s essential that they understand that they need to get to the presentation location early. Because you’ll want to test everything one more time before you go live.
8. Places, everyone!
Even if you don’t have a dedicated production team, you’ll need key people to support you. Imagine all the scenarios (or, at least, as many as you can) that can go wrong, and make sure you have someone there to handle it.
For example, in many all hands live streams, there will be a question period at the end. How will those questions come through? Who will convey them to the presenter? What if a camera gets nudged and ends up pointing the wrong direction? There are a lot of things that can go wrong, so the more support you have to handle potential crises, the smoother the whole thing will go.
Seriously. Stop. Take a minute and just breathe. Focus on the task ahead, and visualize a positive outcome. That will prepare you for making that outcome become a reality.
It might sound like some hippie stuff, but I’ll bet if you asked the person who produced the last Oscars on TV, they’d tell you the same thing.
So take a minute and just breathe.
10. Stay hydrated!
We’re getting pretty granular here, but you’re going to get rid of any potential distractions right now. And if you’re thinking about how much you want some water while you’re supposed to be producing a live stream, you’re not focusing your attention where it needs to be. So make sure to have some water close by.
Have it, preferably, in a bottle with a top. If you have to have a glass of water, keep it well away from the gear. WELL away.
11. Go to the bathroom
Don’t have to? Go anyway.
12. Check equipment one last time
Cameras working? Are they sending a feed to your control board? Lights and audio in perfect condition? This is your last chance. Make sure it’s all ready and working at peak performance. Once you’re done here, you’re ready for action!
13. Don’t forget to press record
Live streaming all hands meetings are usually recorded so that anyone who couldn’t make it is able to view it later. Bitou has a note on his control board to remind him to record. And also another note beside that one. It’s the easiest thing to forget to do when you’re in the thick of it, so make sure that there’s no way you could forget.
14. Hold a post mortem ASAP
Sometimes things go wrong during live streams. Sometimes everything runs as smoothly as a Swiss-made watch. Either way, it’s important to capture what was done as soon as you can so that it’s fresh in your mind.
Have someone write down what you’re talking about. These are the things that will help you to get better and better and will be an invaluable resource for your next live stream.
We do this every time we have a live stream of any kind, and it has helped our webinars, especially, to keep on improving. We want to keep on getting better, just like you do.
15. Edit the event
You remembered to press record. Phew! Now it’s time to break away from the rest of the crew and spend some time in the editing suite. You might want to chop out the awkward beginning where the CEO says, “Is thing thing on?” Maybe something went a little haywire at one point. Now’s your chance to chop it out and make sure that the recording is pristine.
It’s best if you’re able to do this right away. You will be much better able to find the spots you need to pay attention to if you do it now, as opposed to later.
16. Create a thumbnail
Get this one out of the way, so you can get on to the rest. Create a thumbnail in a few different sizes to make sure that you have a good image representation of the recorded event.
See our webinars page for a real-life example of this.
17. Upload the VOD
Whatever system you’re using to make the VOD available to your employees, now’s the time to get that video uploaded. The edits are done, the thumbnail is ready, and so is everyone who wants to see the recording!
18. Don’t forget the metadata!
There are probably a lot of videos on your enterprise video platform for people to choose from. Having metadata with keywords related to the content people are searching for allows them to find it quickly and easily. It’s a crucial function of any enterprise video platform, so make sure that you’re taking advantage of it!
19. Tear it all down
The tear down is as important as the set up. It’s important to be mindful, Bitou says, of where you’re putting everything. There is nothing worse than prepping for a live stream and not being able to find an essential lighting fixture, or not having the right cables available.
Put everything in its right place, and be prepared for the next time.
20. Prep for the next one
As a video producer, your job is never quite done. Once you’ve gotten everything done for this live stream, it’s time to start preparing for the next one. Bitou recommends starting back at the top at #1 and working your way down again. Follow these steps, and you’re sure to have a great all hands live stream!