IET London: Savoy Place’s head of AV shares top tips for expanding the reach of your event online

By Anna Wolfram

IET London: Savoy Place is the home of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, where an in-house team of eight dedicated AV professionals work to deliver expert tech solutions to the many talks, events and meetings held at the city centre venue every year.

Stefano Raun-Byberg heads up the AV team, and although he has had to work from home in recent weeks, the demand for future events to be held digitally has seen his focus shift to looking at solutions such as video conferences, live streaming and web meetings. Here, Stefano sums up some top tips for expanding the reach of your event virtually.

Finding the best solution:
The show can go on! There are many alternative ways to reach audiences when travelling is not permitted. We are getting a lot of requests from members and clients looking for options, so they do not have to cancel their important meetings.

Video conferencing, for example, is a great way to host a meeting where two-way communication is required but not physically feasible. This works for all size of meetings and conferences as long as it is set up properly. There are numerous systems to choose from, and Skype, BT Meetings and Zoom are the most used in the UK. Don’t forget that there is a difference between Skype for Business and Skype, and they don’t link up, so make sure everyone dialling in is using the same system!

Web casting is another secure solution for presenting an event to a larger audience or to those less accessible. You can live stream your event via a private secure network or public platform such as YouTube or Facebook – anything from presentations to product launches, secluded fashion shows or award ceremonies.

Branding:
When delegates are physically unable to attend your event, the branding options become even more important. You might have to stream your meeting from your own living room or spare bedroom, but that doesn’t mean you can’t customise your background. Zoom, for example, allows you to create your own backdrop during video conferences.

At Savoy Place, we custom make signage for events, moving away from static banners or printed signage that not only takes up space, but also might not be as visible for delegates watching online. This will become even more important once we are back to hosting events in situ – there is an expectation that hybrid meetings will become more popular and the digital component will become essential. Digital branding also has a much shorter lead time and can be more flexible!

Sound quality:
One of the most annoying things for delegates is being unable to hear the speaker properly and this is especially important if the event is being streamed or filmed. The choice of microphone – especially for larger events – is paramount.

I’m a big fan of using a lapel mic for speakers, which is discreetly attached to the speaker’s clothing and provides clear audio, giving them the freedom to move around the room. They’re also ideal if you’ve got multiple speakers on stage, meaning handheld mics are not passed around. This looks a lot more professional when an event is filmed.

Sound is important for smaller meetings, too. There is not much point of a video conference if people can’t hear the speaker. Making sure you mute your microphone when you’re not talking is essential, and can avoid embarrassing background noise, too!

Wi-Fi:
There currently isn’t an industry standard for Wi-Fi in venues, and you can get a lot of different speeds and charges out there. The same can be said for people’s homes. If you are relying on streaming your event or interacting with delegates online, make sure you choose a venue with suitable Wi-Fi for your needs, and if you are streaming from home make sure you Wi-Fi can handle the bandwidth. I would stay away from shared Wi-Fi with open networks and no passwords, as these are not particularly secure and can be slow. At Savoy Place, we offer a free, dedicated Wi-Fi for this reason.

Interactive Presentations:
We always recommend using Glisser or Slido for interactive presentations, which include lots of interactive elements. These systems are great for events with delegates in different locations, as you can ask them to sign into the event using their phone, ask questions along the way and get them involved in interactive sessions even if they are not in the room.