Internet streaming has come a long way. Many companies are deciding to stream their meetings online. This requires less travel and in many cases saves money. A streamed meeting can be viewed on just about any device. Depending on your bandwidth, the quality can be quite good. In most cases, you can watch a meeting in HD. There are many companies that will provide this service for a fee. You can also stream your event using free services and your own equipment. In this article, we will discuss the technical aspects of streaming a company meeting. We will also look at the audio-visual requirements as well as the back end needed to provide a nice viewing experience.
Why Stream Your Company Meeting
Streaming a meeting online can save a lot of money on travel and time. In most cases, you can push the stream to a large screen television or projector so many people can gather to watch the meeting online. The team presenting can be viewed in several different locations from around the world. This can save money on flying people to the location where the meeting is being held.
Determining Your Requirements
The logistics of streaming your company meeting can be overwhelming.
- You need to consider how many locations will want to watch the stream.
- Where will the meeting be streamed from?
- What are your bandwidth requirements?
- Do you want to take a question from the audience?
If you are planning to stream the meeting from your company, you should check with the IT department to see what type of bandwidth is available. If the location is going to be in a hotel, you should see what the cost is to obtain a dedicated internet connection with a static IP address.
When streaming an event, you will be pushing the stream from your location. You can use a speed checker tool to see what the bandwidth is at the location. On an important note, you will be using the upload stream, not the download stream to send your content. Make sure your upload speed is enough to send your stream bit-rate. Primary + Backup + 20% is recommended. Generally, an upload speed of about 10 – 20 MB will suffice for an HD stream. Low-resolution streams will require less bandwidth.
Choosing a Streaming Provider and AV Company
Streaming a meeting can be very complicated and in most cases, it may require you to use an outside streaming provider. They will have the resources and expertise. Some providers will offer you the whole package from streaming and all the audio-visual requirements. In many cases, hiring a separate AV company to provide your lighting, camera, and audio feed may be the best option. Most AV companies will work hand and hand with your streaming provider to ensure they receive the best quality feeds. You may want to check with each of these companies and see if they have a preferred vendor.
There are several options in this space, costs can vary. Here is a list of some streaming providers.
Streaming Your Own Meeting Without a Paid Provider
You can also go the route of streaming an event without using a paid streaming provider and AV company. This can take some planning and technical know-how. All of the AV equipment can be purchased or rented. You could use a free streaming provider. Just be aware that there are no guarantees that it will work. Using a paid streaming provider can offer added security and encryption, so the stream can only be viewed by the proper people. Not having the proper encryption can allow anyone to watch the stream. If your company has sensitive information, then free streaming may not be your best option.
You should definitely run a speed test before attempting it. Make sure that your upload stream has enough bandwidth of at least 10 – 20 MB for HD streaming. You can attempt it with lower speeds, but the quality and buffering can become an issue.
- Speedtest.net – Excellent site to test upload and download speeds. It also has a nice app that you can run on your phone or tablet.
Free Streaming Providers
YouTube Live will allow you to stream meetings with a verified account. Your account must be enabled to stream live events. Live chat features can also be used to provide live Q and A. Events can be streamed in 480p, 720p, 1080, and 4k.
YouTube Setup Instructions and Support
YouTube has an excellent setup and support page.
In order to stream from a desktop, you will need to download and install a 3rd party encoding software. This will allow you to capture your desktop, camera, slides, and microphone. YouTube has several preferred encoding software that they recommend.
Data and Analytics
YouTube Live also allows you to view data on a live stream. You can determine how many people are watching, peak conditions, share options and messages. YouTube Live has different types of live stream metrics that can help you see more information about your audience.
With Facebook Live you can stream from your Facebook account to the world. There are several different methods to do this, but the easiest way is to use a free software called Open Broadcast Software. This software will work in conjunction with Facebook and enable you to stream using your desktop computer.
Interfacing Your AV Equipment
In order for you to have a professional-looking stream, you will need to integrate a professional camera and wireless microphone. You don’t want to use the web camera that is on your computer. Here is a list of devices that will allow you to produce a professional-looking stream.
Audio Visual Requirements
Canon VIXIA HF R82 Camcorder
Having a good HD camera to provide a nice high-quality video feed is key to any live stream. It does not have to be the most expensive video camera. One that has decent zoom capabilities and an HDMI output to plug into a switcher or capture device.
Sony VCT-R100 Lightweight Compact Tripod
A tripod for your video camera will keep your shots steady and fluid.
Behringer Xenyx 802 Premium 8-Input
A soundboard will allow you to patch in microphones, add waiting music and send your audio feed to your capture device. You can also adjust levels and turn up the volume on the microphones and feeds them to your live stream.
Shure BLX14/CVL-H9 Wireless System with Lavalier Microphone
A wireless lavalier microphone will give your presenters great sound and flexibility to walk around without any wires to trip over.
Julius Studio Barndoor Continuous LED Video Lighting Kit
Having a proper lighting kit can make your video feed look professional. There is nothing good about a dimly lit presenter.
You will need a powerful laptop to stream your meeting and to display the presenter’s PowerPoint presentation or demo.
Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio HD Live Production Switcher
With a video switcher, you can combine the HD camera feed and PowerPoint laptop slides. A switcher can provide the viewer with different video feeds, full-screen slides, or video dissolves and fades. Some of the fancier switchers can allow for cameras and slides on one screen at the same time.
Computer Interface for Streaming
If you want your streams to look professional, send your video and audio streams into a device that will convert those feeds into your streaming computer. This will allow you to use professional audiovisual equipment to interface with the computer that is pushing the live stream. No more bad webcam and audio feeds from the limited integrated computer peripherals.
Blackmagic Design Web Presenter
The Blackmagic Design Web Presenter is capable of making any HDMI or SDI feed look like a USB webcam feed. It will also take XLR and stereo audio feeds for better audio quality. This unit will make any of your live web streams look and sound great. Just interface with an HD camera, soundboard, and some microphones and you will have a high-quality stream. This works seamlessly with YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Skype, Twitch TV, and Periscope. It also works well with encoding software like Open Broadcaster and XSplit Broadcaster.
All In One Streaming Devices
Another option is to send your feeds to a streaming device that will push the stream for you. No need for a computer to do the encoding and streaming. These devices are capable of taking your video and audio feeds and pushing the stream to your provider of choice. Many of these units will work seamlessly with providers like Akamai, Livestream, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and Periscope.
Teradek VidiU Pro Live Streaming H.264 Encoder
The Teradek VidiU Pro Live Streaming H.264 Encoder will take a feed directly from your camera, switcher, and soundboard, then push the stream to your provider of choice. It will work either on wireless or wired internet. It’s a very compact and reliable streaming box.
Epiphan Systems VGADVI Broadcaster
The VGADVI Broadcaster will allow you to push your video and audio feeds to many different service providers. It supports several formats. This unit will also record your stream at the same time, which is great for playback or archival footage.
Featured image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
There are many different ways to stream your event or meeting over the internet. In many cases, it depends on your budget and technical know-how. Each of these methods can work very well. Streaming a meeting can be a great way to offer your employees communication and transparency.