Imagine being seated in a giant general session room with thousands of conference attendees. The lights go down, the crowd’s excitement builds, and the giant screens light up with….a PowerPoint presentation. Event fail!
Everyone instinctively knows that an upbeat and engaging video is a great way to kick off a conference, but few people take the time to really think through an effective video strategy for a big event. This not only includes all the video components shown at the event, but also gathering footage that support multiple goals across different functional areas, and creates lasting value for your organization. A well-planned video strategy should do all these things, and ensure a higher ROI on the cost of the event.
There are two types of videos that we’re discussing here: videos to be shown AT the event, and video footage that you’ll shoot DURING the event to use in the future. They’re both important aspects of your overall video strategy, but they’ll be used for different purposes.
Let’s imagine that you have a big annual meeting or member gathering taking place in the next six months (and chances are that you do). Here’s four things to consider to ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to planning video work for and around your event.
What are the goals of the conference, and what kind of video series can help achieve them?
Are you celebrating successes of the past year, unveiling a new product or initiative, or announcing a big goal? Think about what kind of series of short videos can be unveiled throughout the conference that keeps attendees excited and engaged, and maybe even has a direct call to action.
A great event video series (shown at the event) has the same look and feel, aligns with your event branding and speaks directly to your conference attendees. These can (and should) be prepared well in advance of the event, and tell an ongoing story that keeps your attendees looking forward to the next installment.
A good vendor will discuss this with you, and create a strategy to produce the stories that are most pertinent to the goals of the event and the overall emotional tone that you want the event to have. Make sure that they include a delivery schedule to ensure that everything is finished well before the event and includes a safety buffer for making any 11th hour changes that come up (and they always do). Make sure that you also connect them with whoever will be running any presentations or A/V elements so that the assets are delivered in the proper formats and everything works smoothly. And above all, test and re-test everything beforehand.
What other big goals could be supported with footage from the event?
Don’t just think about the conference, but consider other big initiatives in progress at your organization. Is your membership team considering a video to recruit new members? Is your information video ready for an update? Is your foundation launching a campaign?
Take advantage of the fact that you’ve got a big group of members at your disposal and think through what kind of footage could be useful in the future. Work with your staff team to prepare a list of interview questions to ask, or testimonials to gather, that could be used in a variety of pieces. By catching excited attendees and asking questions like “what’s the value you get from membership?” or “what would you say to someone considering attending this conference?” you can build a great library of footage for future use.
What conference footage is needed to include members who are missing out?
More and more associations are exploring livestreaming portions of their conference. While this can feel like an easy win, it can actually be complicated on the technical side. You need to decide well in advance which platforms you plan to livestream on, how you will drive traffic to that livestream and make sure you coordinate the footage on the day. Will you have multiple stages/rooms going with content that you’ll be livestreaming from each or will you have just one camera/stream going? The more cameras you have streaming the more shooters/equipment you’ll need (and for how long) so the price can grow pretty quickly if you don’t have that figured out in advance. A strong internet connection is also critical for this process. Just because a venue has good wifi doesn’t mean that it will continue to be stable when all the event attendees are also trying to log on. Try and get a dedicated, wired internet connection so that you’re not fighting attendees for bandwidth. Make sure to test this one extensively in advance and have backup options/plans in place should the livestream go down.
Are you planning on recording entire sessions for re-purposing?
Ensure you have the agreement of the speaker, and budget significant editing time to make those videos viewable. Consider whether you want to make the entire event footage available down the road or condense it down to a “highlights” or “best of” compilation.
Whether you’re using your own in-house team, outside vendor, or a combination of both, clear communication about the deliverables is critically important. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for delivering what, and by when.
Be sure to get permission from attendees to use their likeness in photos and video captured at the conference. This is often easy to do by building their consent into any registration forms that attendees fill out in advance. If not, make sure you have lots of on-camera releases with you on the day. It might be a hassle then but it’s easier to get it covered beforehand then trying to track people down later. You don’t necessarily need permission to feature people in crowd shots but anyone you feature in an interview needs to have a signed release form – either a specific one you fill out before the interview or built it into the attendance registration papers.
With all the details that go into planning a big event, video work is often something tacked on at the last minute with no clear purpose. But with a well-considered strategy, it can greatly enhance the attendees’ conference experience and provide you with significant collateral to support many association goals down the road. It’s often just a drop in the bucket of an event’s total cost but it can go a very long way later.