Feeding the beast: engaging online delegates through live streaming

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By Rich Belcher, Director of First Sight Media

Feeding the beast, it’s the idea that encourages engagement with your online audience by maintaining connection with them during the entirety of the event. You can’t simply put up a holding screen for 10 minutes and expect your audience to be loyal; they will find something else to do.

Live streaming events has become a popular way for event organisers to enhance their audience by finding a new market online (or developing the relationships they built during lockdown) as the shift to in-person cements itself in 2023. With hybrid, or ‘blended’ experiences, their success with online viewers is down to maintaining a seamless programme to keep “feeding the beast”, the beast being the virtual attendees themselves.

You can achieve global reach, spanning continents, if between sessions you are able to maintain ‘flow,’ by streaming live interviews and content during breaks or between sessions. By featuring extended conversations from the previous session, interviews with opinion leaders or exhibitors you are effectively creating ‘bonus content’ only accessible to those watching online and giving them a compelling reason to keep watching and remain engaged.

To further enhance this experience, it shouldn’t simply be a one-way broadcasting. It can be interactive and immersive, a blended technique that offers the audience the chance to not just watch from the outside but to have their questions answered and to be immersed in the event experience.

Despite live streaming’s latest popularity, there is still, however, a misconception that event organisers give into. It’s the belief that streaming to an audience could mean losing a fraction of their physical attendees. This is continuously proved wrong. Instead, consider that live streaming offers full inclusivity to an extended audience who otherwise would not be able to attend.

Childcare, train strikes, travel costs, work commitments and even environmental factors are preventing audiences from attending hugely influential events. If these individuals were to miss out completely the first year, they may lack inspiration to attend next year.

The technique of ‘always on’ streaming allows you to avoid drop-off and create a connection with online delegates that will provide a taste of your event that will, inevitably, encourage them through the door for the next one.

First Sight Media
Rich Belcher
Pictured: Rich Belcher

Rich Belcher is First Sight Media Media’s enigmatic Managing Director. As comfortable in front of the camera as behind it, Rich spearheads the First Sight Media team in creating, shaping, and delivering innovative events for a broad array of customers.

A trusted partner to clients in the likes of academia, pharmaceuticals, medical and IT sectors, First Sight Media has been able to use its expertise to deliver the technical elements of events for organisations typically beyond the reach of a company of their size. Under Rich’s leadership, the company has seen at least 20% year-on-year growth since 2019, doubling its headcount in less than three years and are proud to be the reigning Oxfordshire Business Awards Small Business of the year.

With 16 years of technical events experience, Rich derives immense personal satisfaction from his hands-on role as a producer and thrives on finding solutions to challenges which, for all the robust and careful planning, can often occur in a live environment.

Keen to help even more customers embrace the technology for in-person, virtual and hybrid events, Rich can be found on blogs, podcasts and videos across the internet – championing audience engagement online or how to create world-class blended events with both an in-person and virtual element.


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