How to Meet the Technical Challenges of Virtual and Hybrid Events
Presenting virtual and hybrid events can pose many technical challenges, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the resulting need to find new ways to quickly adapt to sudden changes to the in-person availability of event speakers and participants. Donald Guzauckas Jr., Vice President of HB Live, contends that the best approach is to be as fully prepared as possible for every conceivable type of issue that may come up during conferences in these unpredictable times.
“The biggest thing is the network,” Guzauckas says. Using public settings such as hotels for corporate events can pose security issues. But an even greater challenge is holding large events in places that were never intended for such purposes. “Especially with COVID, we've been doing corporate events in parks, for example, because they can get everybody outside and spread out and take their masks off.” In those cases, it is a matter of “relying on things like bonded cellular for carrying that network. So that's a huge part of it right off the bat, the next big challenge. And I don't have a good solution for that.”
The most prudent approach, Guzauckas believes, is to work as closely as possible with your technical team and to make sure that they are very well educated in the network requirements for the situation as far ahead of the event as possible. But even with the best possible network setup, high-quality video and audio are paramount. Since many of the attendees will be remote, Guzauckas says that poor video and audio quality risks completely undermining the entire conference, even for those who are physically in attendance.
Guzauckas provides a specific recent example of a situation where both good video and audio were essential to maintain a quality experience for attendees despite a last-minute change to the availability of a key speaker. HB Live was working with a university, and the president of the college tested positive for COVID right before they were scheduled to give their commencement address. They suddenly had to deliver their speech from their living room. “They had good video, fortunately,” Guzauckas says. “But we had to make sure they had a good microphone, so it could carry through to not only the live stream but to the people that were attending in person.” This further underscores the need to be as prepared as possible for every contingency. “The solution is to just really plan and be prepared for it,” Guzauckas says. “Put yourself in the perspective of the audience at every step along the way.”
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