IT's Important Role in Self-Service Webcasting
Don’t be fooled by the term “self-service webcasting.” While emerging cloud-based platforms are empowering and revolutionary, IT and others within the organization still need to be on deck to help train and support users and to assure a high-quality network and application experience for the hosts, presenters, and participants.
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure successful webinars and satisfied attendees:
1. Prepare your network
Whether you are broadcasting one-to-one or one-to-10,000, your network should be ready to handle the demands of real-time video streaming and concurrent server requests. Make sure you’ve provisioned enough server, storage, and network capacity to support high volumes of participants as well as high-quality streaming and on-demand requests. Remember, no amount of preparation on a presenter’s part can overcome the difficulties of poorly provisioned, poorly architected, and poorly prioritized infrastructure.
2. Train your users on the technology
Self-service does not mean intuitive. Downloading an icon to a user’s desktop or mobile device and walking away is a losing strategy if you expect a good outcome. Take time to create tiers of training to accommodate users of all abilities. Even users who have grown up with FaceTime and other consumer-grade video conferencing tools might not be familiar with the features and functionality of enterprise-class, cloud-based webinar software such as our Webcast Essentials and Webcast Pro. Make time to walk them through every aspect of the tools and allow time for practice sessions. Also, provide a link to West’s online support area in case they have further questions. Ensure that all new employees have mandatory webcast training as most likely need to either host, participate in, or attend an online presentation or meeting.
3. Teach your users what makes a great webinar
Once your users are familiar with the technology, teach them the ingredients for a successful webinar. Webcast participation is dependent on the agenda set forth, promotion of the broadcast, expectations for how users will interact with hosts, preparation of engaging presentations and discussion, opportunity for feedback, and metrics of attendance, including drop-off rates. Each of these areas requires the host’s attention. For instance, most participants will want to know the content or at least the premise of a webcast before committing time out of their day to attend. Many also will want to know that they can ask questions – either submitted ahead of time and answered during the broadcast or as part of a live Q&A. Make sure to create a corporate style guide that shares best practices for developing and carrying out a beneficial webcast and which users can easily access as they go about creating their own events.
4. Don’t forget the little things
The more self-service users become, the easier it is to forget the little things that a professional studio staff, including a producer and producer’s assistant would remember. Things as seemingly obvious as checking for stains on the presenter’s shirt to sampling different lighting scenarios in the room are overlooked the fewer hands involved in the making of the webcast. One of the details most often left behind is testing the presentation in the webcast platform ahead of the broadcast, including all presenters’ materials. Also, each presenter should be given the opportunity to run through his or her own script using the software’s functions. Despite the word self-service, professionalism must still be a part of every broadcast. (Hint: Check that doors are closed/locked and do not disturb signs are on the doors. Also make sure to experience the view of you and each presenter as participants would to ensure nothing is amiss in the background.)
5. Gather feedback
As users become more independent in their use of webcasting tools, organizations may begin to lose focus of gauging the effectiveness of these web events. Use the analytics tools within Webcast Essentials and Webcast Pro to assess how users received the information they were given and even how well the host did in preparation for and delivery of the webcast. Were there enough attendees? Did the content delivered match what was promised? Were attendees engaged enough to ask relevant questions? Also, how did users experience the platform? Were there glitches due to network or application issues? Did remote attendees have enough bandwidth for a high-quality experience? Was the server provisioned properly to accept and fulfill attendance requests? There are so many metrics that can impact the effectiveness of the webcast and you must be on top of them all to ensure a return on your webcast platform investment.
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