A webcast is defined as a transmission of sound and images (as an event) via the Internet – often broadcasted to a virtual audience. Simply put, it’s an online broadcast of audio or video from an event or meeting and is viewed by someone through an electronic device (computer, tablet, phone, etc.). The event can be live-streamed or made available through an on-demand archive. Often, it’s also referred to as a webinar, virtual event, or webcast.
Webcasts have grown into becoming a standard part of the business world. This typically has to do with the cost savings from eliminating travel and other expenses associated with in-person events. In addition, companies can extend their reach to a larger audience when they move their events to a webcast platform.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, webcasts have become increasingly popular considering they cater to the remote audience. Attendees often can watch in real time or come back later to watch the webcast in an on-demand setting – this adds much more flexibility than an in-person event would typically allow.
How do webcasts work?
By itself, a webcast is simply a broadcast of video (and sound) over the Internet. Attendees can view a webcast by using their mobile device, a tablet, or a regular computer. Broadcasting hardware, which can include studio mixing boards, microphones, headphones, cameras, and a hardware encoder, enable the presenters to effectively extend their message virtually. Then, a computer or collection of servers processes the data that is being sent over the Internet, ultimately delivering the data effectively and in an attractive fashion through a webcast platform. The broadcasting hardware acts as an origin point for your webcast.
For the audience to view the webcast, you will need a webcast platform, such as Xyvid Pro, and the audience will need to have access to the Internet. Both the hardware and platform work together to stream your webcast to virtual attendees, where they can access the show on their chosen device such as a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. In simple terms, you can bring your event to life with the right equipment and proper webcast platform.
The Difference Between Webcasting and Web Conferencing
The terms webcasting and web conferencing are often easily confused. However, there are key differences between the two. Immediately, webcasting and web conferencing cater to completely different sized audiences. Webcasting is the primary solution for when you are looking to broadcast an event over the Internet to a large audience (and where the size can be virtually unlimited). Alternatively, web conferencing is better suited for audiences of 50 or less, considering that each of the participants typically need access to cameras and computers of their own. In general, web conferencing is best for small collaborative meetings. An example of a web conference would be a Microsoft Teams meeting, Zoom meeting or other similar, more collaborative platforms.
Another difference between webcasting and web conferencing is that a web conference is usually between numerous computer users that have access to a webcam. There is commonly an option to share screens, send documents back and forth, and type in a chat. On the other hand, a webcast uses much higher quality audio and video, as well as engagement tools like polling, 3D modeling, dynamic screen movements, gamification, and Q&A. Webcasts have a more produced and TV-like feel to them over a standard conferencing solution.
In respect to event planning, web conferences require little to none. Oppositely, a webcast must be planned like you would an in-person event. For webcasts, you will need to take your speakers, venue, audio, lighting, and more into heavy consideration. A properly planned webcast will present your brand and message in the most effective and attractive way possible. Lastly, webcasts provide extensive data analytics to you that you won’t get in a web conference (such as audience interactions and behaviors).
At this point, we have covered a large amount of ground around webcasts and virtual presentations. It is certainly an easy topic to over-complicate, but it does not have to be that way, and often a proper webcast provider will simplify the webcasting experience for you and your customers. This creates a virtual event that truly engages a virtual audience, and ensures your brand is being portrayed in the most professional and attractive way possible.
In short, you will want to hold a webcast when you have a significant townhall, executive meeting, product launch, virtual event, or live event that you want to extend to a virtual audience (cue “hybrid events”). Remember, it is imperative to choose the right provider when evaluating webcast platforms. There are a variety of solutions available on the market, so it is up to you to decide what will suit you, your brand, and your audience best. Our recommendation here at Xyvid is to choose a webcast provider that is built around audience engagement. This includes everything from your provider’s look and feel, engagement tools, appearance, and other features of the platform that enable the audience to retain information and walk away from your event feeling energized and excited about the future of your brand, their training, or potential next steps depending on the content and nature of your event.
From a fundamental perspective, a webcast is quite simple. If you have the means to organize a virtual event, a set of speakers, a brand, and an audience – your webcast has the foundation ready to be broadcasted. Some webcast platforms can pull video directly from your webcam on your phone or laptop, but those video methods do not create the best-looking experience – especially if that speaker is going to be presenting in front of thousands of people. Luckily, there are studios around the country that enable companies and speakers to congregate in a professional environment with proper lighting, cameras, video streaming, and other necessary equipment. But, if you do not think those studios are necessary, your webcast provider should be able to import your speaker’s video appropriately within their platform. The corresponding brand, colors, layout of the on-screen experience, and other features of the platform will still reach your audience in an effective manner.
In addition, there are some odds and ends that we recommend having throughout your virtual event. These involve things like a proper branded registration page, on-demand capability for after-show content and viewing, engagement tools to help your audience remain engaged in what is being presented on-screen and in real-time, as well as after-show reporting that will give seriously in-depth insight into how your show performed and whether your audience enjoyed the presentation.
In short, webcasting gives you, your brand, and your speakers an opportunity to really drive virtual audience engagement, thus inadvertently promoting your brand, message, product (i.e. a product launch virtual event), and other added benefits that a standard live event will not produce.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of companies transitioned to virtual events, trainings, and townhalls because of the health and safety concerns brought forth. Luckily, Xyvid Pro has the technology to still integrate an in-room experience virtually through webcasting. That feeling of interacting with others during a live event, or the feeling of physically being at a live event, can become familiar if you choose a proper webcast provider with audience engagement in mind.
In general, webcasting platforms are different from virtual meeting platforms like Teams, Zoom, and others because there are two different goals in mind with each solution. Typically, collaborative platforms like the ones just mentioned are great for when you want to get your team together to discuss the week ahead, or a one-on-one with a colleague to discuss business-related matters. But, again, use a proper webcast solution if it is a significant virtual event, townhall, presentation, or product launch as previously stated.
How to Use Webcasts
As mentioned earlier, you want to identify your goals for your event. If you want to hold a virtual event that involves thousands of attendees and there is an important message that you want to be received (and portrayed) in a professional and engaging way, utilize a webcast provider. On the other hand, if you want to get your team together and discuss the upcoming week’s goals, or discuss performance in a one-on-one setting, a more collaborative platform like Teams or Zoom will work well for you. In totality, you have a variety of webcast solutions – some of them offering turn-key SAAS models for full client control, others will be more in-depth and provide production support, full customization, and other reporting features that will ensure your message goes the extra mile and your brand remains etched in the audience’s memory long after the event has ended. Furthermore, using a proper webcast provider will alleviate the headaches typically experienced by some webinars today. A proper webcast solution will truly enable your audience to remain engaged in what is being presented.
How to create a webcast
Considering that webcasts are more accessible than in previous years, the choice to host an event via webcast is becoming a standard option. Webcasts are not nearly as expensive as they once were, so you don’t need a massive budget. For that reason, it’s important to understand what goes into creating a webcast.
First, you need to plan your webcast, as you would any other event. You will want to take into consideration who the presenters and/or speakers will be, the date and time of your webcast, what will be discussed, and the content you will use to portray your message. Once that is decided, you need to choose a webcast platform, such as Xyvid Pro. The platform will be where your attendees will go to view your event. Next, whatever platform you use will need to be set up in the back end. This is where you will choose what audio, video, slide deck, and engagement tools you want to use. After that is set up, you will want to rehearse your webcast and make sure you are prepared to present your content to your attendees. During rehearsal, you will be able to see what kind of set up you want for your presenters such as backgrounds, appropriate lighting, and sound. Prior to the day of the webcast, you will want to put in place a backup plan in case of any issues with internet, video, or audio. When that is all complete, you are ready to present your webcast to your audience. Following your event, it is always beneficial to send your attendees a thank you email, along with a link to your archived webcast so they can go back and re-watch later.