Live streaming is a great way to reach your audience and make the conference more accessible for them. That being said, it can be challenging for businesses on a budget to live stream an event like this.
Whether you’re trying to stream a seminar, convention, or annual meeting, you will learn how to do it on your own in this blog post. All in a budget-friendly way.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Your options to go live are somewhat limited, which is a good thing. There’s no analysis paralysis, or spending weeks trying to figure out the best way to do this.
You can choose between these two:
- Hire a live streaming production team -which will set you back a few thousand dollars per day.
- Do it yourself -with no knowledge or previous experience- for under US$150.
As you already know, we’re going to focus on the second option because I think it’s the best way to go for the majority of SMBs and non-profits.
What do you need to live stream your own conference?
As a photographer with a few years of experience streaming events, I can tell you this: “The best camera is the one you have with you”.
And when I say that, I hope that you have a smartphone because we will need it.
To make things simple, here are the must-haves to livestream your own event:
- Smartphone: Any brand or model will do. If you don’t want to use your own smartphone, or you prefer to use an iPad or another tablet instead, you can use it too.
- Tripod: Having a small tripod will help your audience pay attention to the things that are being said, instead of focusing on the shaky hands of the person holding the device.
- Smartphone Mount: This little plastic mount will help you attach your smartphone to the tripod. Some tripods include one as a kit.
- Internet Connection: Most venues that can host a summit, forum, or conference already have a strong internet connection in place. You will need access to it.
- Live streaming app: This is what I’d recommend to anyone who is serious enough about their event. Away from social media, and professional enough to not distract viewers as they consume the contents of the event.
Assuming that you have a smartphone or iPad, the total cost of the tripod and smartphone mount ranges between $15 to $40 USD. That’s it for must-haves.
The best part about live streaming a conference is that there’s always a sound system in place so the audio can be heard clearly even if using your smartphone with no accessories. However, there’s an optional item that will greatly increase the quality of your stream for viewers at home:
- Wireless Microphone: You can place this next to the audio system or at the lectern so everyone can hear the speaker clearly.
Options: Affordable iOS Mic / Affordable Android Mic / Premium Wireless Mic
Buying a wireless mic can set you back around $60-190 (the end of the range is for a featured-packed microphone from a top-tier brand). This is a one-time purchase, and you can use it for other events in the future. If you have any other type of microphone that you can attach to your smartphone, you can use it too.
It is very important that you learn this: Audio is more important than video for a live stream. Even if your internet connection isn’t the best, having clear audio will have your attendees paying attention throughout the presentation.
What are the benefits of streaming your conference with a smartphone?
Internet Connectivity: Stream using WiFi or Mobile Data
The most important aspect of a live stream is the internet connection. By being able to can swap from WiFi to LTE in seconds, or even change carriers by swapping a sim card, your phone becomes the best tool for the job.
As you will be streaming from a venue, you should ask them if they can provide access to a dedicated or private WiFi network with at least 10 Megabit per second upload speed. Besides asking them about their internet connection, I’d recommend that you test it yourself at the event using a live streaming app, such as EventLive.
Audio: Smartphones have excellent microphones
Unlike live shows or events that require recording multiple people speaking at once, at most conferences there’s a podium and a lectern, so you know exactly where the audio will be coming from.
By using a smartphone, you can place next to the speakers or nearby the podium for clean and crisp voices. You could also place a wireless microphone at the podium and connect it to your device.
If there’s a microphone for a Q&A from the audience that attended in person, the audio will be coming out of the speakers and you will be able to catch it with the phone too.
Video: Automatic exposure in complex situations
For live streaming, the image quality of today’s smartphones is better than most cameras.
Let me give you an example: If you are showing slides on a projector screen, the phone will be able to capture the brightness of the screen and the darkness of the room and balance it out, so viewers can read the contents of the slide. Cameras aren’t able to do that without editing the footage, which you can’t do when streaming live.
One last thing that is worth mentioning: If your conference has multiple rooms that need streaming at the same time, all you need is a second phone or tablet to stream it.
You can schedule another event and add links between stages right under the event title.
Can guests interact on a conference live stream?
Guests will be able to join with a single click on a short, personalized link of your event. They don’t have to download an app or log in to watch.
With this method, online attendees can interact but in a controlled way. Nothing like Zoom or Facebook live, where you need a moderator managing the live stream at all times.
When using EventLive, guests can participate via Chat, Guestbook, or nothing at all, depending on your needs and preferences. It’s a one-way live stream, so they can see and hear your conference but they cannot see or hear each other. This is why it's a perfect solution, whether you have 10 attendees or 3000. You don’t need a moderator making sure that nobody forgot to mute themselves.
One big plus of using this live streaming platform is that you can request viewer’s details in order to watch. This means that when the event ends, you will have a list of attendees at your disposal.
How to Live Stream a Conference using your Smartphone
Before the Event
To get started you need to download the EventLive app (it works on every phone, iOS or Android). It’s free to test so you can check yourself at the venue, office, or at home if this solution will indeed work for you.
The app has a very neat feature that will display in the top left corner of the screen whether your internet connection is good enough for streaming.
It only costs $50 per day of live streaming, and the price goes down when you add consecutive days to the event. Some workshops, seminars, or business presentations take place over two or three days, and the platform works perfectly for those too. Attendees can tune in using the same link every time. No confusion for you or them. No new Zoom or Teams meeting invitation or people left out.
The next step is to schedule the conference. The process might take 30 seconds, but then you might need to spend about 5-10 minutes to make sure that all the information is there:
- You can include your organization logo so that when viewers click, they’ll land on your website. The same logo will be used for automatic email reminders.
- You can add a cover for the event with relevant information (like schedule and start time)
- You can add a pinned message with something viewers must-know
- You can invite guests, share the link with them over private messages, email, or make it public on the event's or company’s social media channels
- You can add donation links if it’s a fund-raising event or a relevant website to your seminar or conference
- There’s an embed option, to add live stream video directly to your organization's website
The goal of this method is to save you time, not to add more things to your endless to-do list. As you’ll probably be busy focusing on very important aspects of the event, you can customize it or simply use it to go live.
During the Event
Attach the smartphone to the tripod, and find a good location where the viewers will be able to see the event clearly. Setting up the live stream at the event can be done in under 5 minutes.
Open the EventLive app, and press the “Test” button. The app will tell you if you have enough battery and storage space for a backup. Start the test, and “go live” for a couple of minutes. Nobody can see this but yourself.
This will give you the perfect opportunity to test the internet and audio. The video quality depends on your connection, so you don’t need to verify anything here. You can watch the test replay from your gallery, as it saves automatically, or from the test page. Done!
Now you can choose your event and press “Go Live”.
As long as nobody stands in front of your tripod and you have enough battery on your phone, you can go take care of more important things at this point.
After the Event
You can watch the replay for a year at the same link… but here’s the best part:
The full video of the live stream is automatically saved to EventLive servers, as well as to your device. That’s two automatic backups for a fail-proof system.
You can download it and reupload it anywhere you want, or use the copy stored on your phone.
Share the event with anyone who couldn’t attend or embed it into your website to promote the next one.
Making your conference live stream unique
If you have the time and you want to go the extra mile, there are a few ways in which you can make this a memorable experience for your attendees.
Create a Short Video or Slideshow
When attendees tune in before the event starts, they will see the slideshow playing. This is a perfect opportunity to promote upcoming events, related services, or to include important information about the event.
Include the Slides in the Event Links
For events with a lot of important information to be shared, allowing attendees to download the slides makes for a much better experience. They can go through the slides at their own pace, and even go back if they need to review a concept.
Embed the Live Stream on your Website
For some companies, it is very important to have attendees viewing their website for the longest time possible. This could be due to products or services being offered during the live stream, or even to capture some extra leads if it’s a public event.
Embedding your live stream is easy from the event settings.
Include an Event Program
Coffee breaks, speakers list, useful links, and all relevant information can be included in an event program. You can include it as a link, or as a PDF.
Final thoughts and Conclusion
As the organizer, you might have to put on different hats and play different roles to make the most out of your event. Using the method I just talked about, becoming a professional live streamer isn’t one of them.
By using a do-it-yourself approach, you can minimize costs, do a better allocation of resources and provide a wonderful experience for anyone who couldn’t attend in person.
I hope that, at this point, you’ve learned enough to try streaming and exploring platforms by yourself. If I missed something or you need any extra help, I’d love to hear your questions.