Giulia Grasso
By Giulia Grasso

How to plan for success when live streaming virtual, hybrid and studio events

Live Streaming

Blog - 7 mins read

When it comes to live-streaming your event, there’s nothing worse than unexpected downtime. We caught up with Totem’s Operations Director, Giulia Grasso who heads up our Backstage broadcasting team, to discuss how to plan for stress-free streaming and deliver broadcast-quality events to keep audiences hooked.

What prep should event organisers do before getting in touch with an event production agency?

Giulia> Definitely have an idea of what you want to achieve and a rough budget. It doesn’t have to be exact, but a ballpark figure is ideal. If you can describe examples of events you’ve seen then we can advise how we can get close to this within your budget. 

As part of the brief-taking process your tech partner will need to understand more about the format of your event and your venue – is it virtual only? Are you using a studio? Will some of your content be pre-recorded? If you’re planning a hybrid event – how large is the in-person audience expected to be and what will the onsite AV support look like?

For example, if you want a TED-talk style presentation with multiple close-up angles, slides across multiple big screens and a large in-person audience, this requires a bigger filming crew. What I would say is to remember that even on a relatively modest budget you can have amazing 4K quality with just two cameras set up at the back of the room. For many virtual audiences, this is sufficient, especially if you have lots of discussion-based sessions or use digital engagement tools such as polling and downloadable content to keep them engaged.

If you don’t need an in-person audience, filming in a studio is a great way of adding that broadcast-quality feel to your event. We’ve seen bookings at our own London-based studio, Over the Road increase considerably over the past six months. 

People chatting on camera in a broadcast studio

What are the typical requirements of a video production brief?

Giulia> You’ll want to include where your audiences are located as some streaming platforms can be blocked in various regions. Youtube, Vimeo and other streaming platforms are currently not available in China or Vietnam for example. Make sure your tech partner has experience in the regions you are looking to run your events, they will then be able to advise you on the best solutions for that audience.

I’d also say think about the level of audience engagement you are looking for. If you only want them to watch sessions, could you pre-record content to reduce costs? Pre-recording can also help out with time-pressed speakers – and you can still offer a compromise with interactive Q&A at the end of the session only.

There are various options for remote speakers – you can send out a professional film crew or live-link them in via Zoom. Depending on the type of session, Zoom can work well and we have developed some tips and techniques to improve the overall experience.

If you want to blend pre-recorded with live-streamed content and are looking for quality and authenticity but are on a tight budget, you might want to consider self-shoot options. This is something we have started to offer via Totem Action, our proprietary smartphone kits and app. Speakers or local marketing teams can shoot footage on their smartphone, upload it to the cloud via an app and our Backstage team then edit it professionally.

a remote speaker interview

What should planners look for when choosing an event venue?

Giulia> I would always suggest going for a venue who have experience in live-streaming events so they can show you the set-up. Always push for a hard-wired internet connection and bear in mind that some venues charge per port. Ask if the AV support is contacted out or if it’s an in-house service. Is there an extra cost if your event has to be rescheduled or for out-of-hours rehearsal time?

Make sure you ask technical questions such as internet connection download and upload speed and agree what the backup procedure is if there’s something like a power cut. Treat it like a job interview and ask them for examples of when things have gone down at their end (such as the internet) and how they dealt with it.

Camera operator live streaming at a large conference

How should testing and rehearsals for video production be managed?

Giulia> We advise at least one purely technical rehearsal, ideally the day before so it’s worth negotiating this with your venue early on. We usually do a small test just with the client to check they are happy with all the camera angles etc. before we do one with speakers. If you were holding a small event that began at lunchtime, you may be able to get away with a morning rehearsal. Most often rehearsals need to be in the evening and that’s no problem, but it is worth coordinating with people who know how the presenters will be moving about on stage.

If you plan to have both an in-person and virtual audience, bear in mind that there will be a small delay if you are doing something like polling. Make sure your speakers know how to manage this or have some content they can show while the virtual audience is voting. If you do need help with speaker training then this is a service we can provide.

live streaming from our broadcast studio
BioProcess international live stream footage
TIDES live stream and slides

What are some of your best practice tips when it comes to audience communications?

Giulia> If you are running an event for banking, finance or healthcare professionals you may find that you need to provide very specific instructions about whitelisting the IP of your event platform. With Totem’s digital engagement platform Reef, you can send login details and set up a test landing page to check that people can access it.  

Make sure your FAQ section is pre-populated with simple steps to troubleshoot – for example. hopping onto personal devices where you could bypass VPNs.

If you have new key account clients who haven’t joined an event before, you may want to directly communicate with one nominated person at their end to make sure everything is accessible.  

Filming in our Broadcast studio

What should your contingency and support plan look like?

Giulia> The reality is you can’t control every variable. Pre-plan messages that you can get out to your audience to explain if there are technical difficulties (such as a power cut). If there are problems at the attendee’s end, it’s really important that the support team on your virtual event platform and your live-streaming broadcast team can communicate to help out. Many clients turn to Totem as we are able to provide both the event management platform and video production team under one roof, making planning and coordination much easier.

Although streaming platforms are generally reliable – always have a backup choice in place. We also work with our clients to agree web pages where the stream can be directly embedded just in case. Have emails pre-written and ready to go in case of any unexpected interruptions, we can help you with the instructions these need to contain.

What about recording on-demand content?

Giulia> If you are making content available on-demand (which we’d encourage the majority of our clients to do) make sure you have a timeline for release agreed. Having someone on-site who can get on and edit the live stream there and then is really useful because it makes the sign-off process that much faster.

Any final advice?

Giulia> Live streaming is complex. Really you want to be leaving all the technical ‘under the bonnet’ stuff with your production team so you can get on with other things.

If it’s your first time staging a hybrid or virtual event or if you are considering switching to a new event venue, it does pay off to think about your live-streaming requirements in a bit more detail. Remember – an experienced production team can always ask awkward questions on your behalf before you book your venue and can guide you through every step of the process.


If you are interested in finding out more about our video production and live-streaming services please click here


Giulia Grasso

Written by Giulia Grasso

Operations Director



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