How to nail your next executive webcast

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One of the biggest challenges facing large, global organisations is the ability to conduct an effective all-hands meeting. When the goal is increased engagement and connection between executives and distributed team members, the room for error is small—but the impact of error is significant. Recent studies show that an issue lasting as little as five seconds can cost an organisation up to 25% of its live audience participation.  

With the list of things that can go wrong ranging from technology issues to a simple lack of planning, there is an easy-to-follow checklist for people who plan, host and execute Executive Webcasts. Here’s an 11-point checklist to ensure Executive Webcast success from start to finish. 

Pre webcast 

1. Promote the agenda 

Getting the attention of a global workforce is challenging, even when the event in question is mandatory. Putting a little extra time into the invitation—including clearly explaining what will be discussed and why—conveys a sense of importance to your audience. Some of the more innovative companies actually send video invitations directly from the executive speaker, with a preview of what will be discussed. The more attention you pay to promoting your event, the more importance your employees will assign it. 

2. Make time for a practice session  

While not every executive has the time or feels the need to “practice,” it’s essential to sell leaders on the value of a walk-through or dry run. Not only are walkthroughs critical for making certain everything is working from a technology perspective, but they are essential for verifying the proposed content can be covered in the allotted time. Dry runs are also a great place to discuss the “meeting-killer” questions, especially the ones everyone is thinking but may not feel comfortable answering. Every executive webcast should feature a well-prepared leader, armed with a diligently-crafted message. 

3. Consider security and access  

CEO webcasts are a paradox, with a goal of maximising reach to internal parties but eliminating reach to parties outside the organisation. Prior to going live, be sure to review the company’s content viewing and retention policies, then compare them to the settings within your enterprise video platform. Two hours before broadcast is not the time to debate whether contractors and vendors should be allowed attendance. 

4. Document a backup plan  

Even with thorough preparation and testing, any well-planned event can still be impacted by emergencies. Pre-webcast planning should always include a clear set of fallback plans covering worst-case scenarios. Can you effectively broadcast using a mobile device if the CEO is stuck at an airport? Should you reschedule if the speaker becomes ill, or offer a backup presenter? These are the types of decisions that should be discussed—and documented—before your global event goes live. 

During the webcast 

5. Strive for authenticity  

The reason town hall or fireside-chat meetings are so appealing is that they establish an atmosphere of authenticity in which the leader speaks frankly and naturally about what’s going on. A great executive webcast creates that same opportunity for open, sincere dialogue whatever the staging. Authenticity, in fact, trumps production flair—some of the best events are the simplest. Choose a casual backdrop, avoid scripts and teleprompters, and don’t be afraid to encourage emotion from the speaker when warranted. 

6. Encourage interactivity    

Another critical element of in-person events is the ability for participants to submit questions in real-time, and receive live responses from the presenter after the prepared portion of the presentation. Leading enterprise video platforms offer robust Q&A functionality, including audience polling and screen sharing to make the meeting as interactive as possible. Putting a question on your “Thank you for Waiting” slide can also increase participation and help break the ice. And if your audience tends to be reluctant when it comes to asking questions, have the moderator prepare a few in advance to get things going. 

7. Go for maximum reach   

An all hands meeting that can’t reach “all hands” is an unfortunate reality in most organisations, but it doesn’t have to be. If your current webcasting system can’t reach everyone, consider conducting more than one live event to compensate for time zone differences. Or better yet, invest in a live streaming platform that leverages intelligent delivery, and can guarantee delivery of your webcast to any device—including mobile devices and virtual desktops. Some organisations have reportedly increased their live event reach by as much as 25x after adoption of an enterprise video platform.   

8. Leverage reliable technology  

It’s never a good idea to walk into a live event hoping (but not knowing) your webcasting technology will perform reliably. A recent survey says that 51 percent of streaming video viewers cited buffering issues as the number one technical problem, but these are also the easiest ones to avoid. Some enterprise video vendors will gladly assist in performing a load test or simulation to identify potential bottlenecks before going live. Combine this with an intelligent video delivery network that adjusts to real-time network conditions, and your next live event will go off without a hitch. 

Post webcast 

9. Anticipate demand for on demand viewing  

It’s nearly impossible to plan an event that is ideally suited for everyone’s schedule, so providing on-demand viewing options is the most effective way to push your event reach toward the goal of 100%. Wrapping your live event recording in metadata, then making it accessible through your company’s internal repository, is a critical step in the post-event engagement process. So is regularly promoting the on-demand asset via email, and through whatever social sharing tools your company leverages—SharePoint, Yammer, Jive, Slack or the dozens of other tools organisations are using to drive engagement. 

10. Collect post-event feedback  

The right enterprise video platform will tell you a great deal about the engagement of your event—such as global reach, how long employees participated and who engaged in Q&A. But a basic post-event survey can add a great deal of colour around effectiveness of message as well. A simple post-event questionnaire can help your team drill down to the key question “did the audience understand the message?” And if executed correctly, we have seen companies achieve employee understanding of the corporate message in the 69% to 83% range following a live video event. 

11. Send a follow-up message to attendees  

Silence after a big all-hands CEO webcast can leave a vacuum. That’s why a follow-up note—or better yet, a video—is crucial for driving continued engagement. Underscore the main message, share positive feedback and acknowledge what the executive also learned in the exchange. The follow-up message is a powerful way for an executive to demonstrate accountability, as well a great opportunity to provide answers to questions the speaker was not able to address during the live event. Also consider reiterating action items and sharing positive outcomes, to demonstrate the event made a true difference in the work environment. 

Conclusion 

Hopefully these ideas help you nail your next CEO webcast and improve each employee’s understanding and connection with the organisation’s mission. An enterprise video platform plays in important role in executive communications.

Paul Herdman, Vice President of Qumu EMEA 

Image Credit: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock