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Hybrid Event Tech 101: A Higher-Ed Guide to Accessible Hybrid Events [TRANSCRIPT]

KELLY MAHONEY: Thank you very much for joining us. This is our presentation on “Hybrid Event Tech 101: A Higher-Ed Guide to Accessible Hybrid Events.” My name is Kelly Mahoney, and I’m a Content Marketing Associate at 3Play Media. I’ll be moderating today.

Today I’m joined by Tyler Pyburn, Co-Founder of the video production company 5 Tool Productions. Over the last year especially, they’ve worked on a lot of virtual and hybrid events. So with that, I’ll hand it over. Tyler, you can take it away.

TYLER PYBURN: Awesome. I love it. Kelly. Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much for that introduction. Really appreciate it. Welcome in, everybody else. Thank you so much for taking time out of your Thursday to jump on with us. We really do appreciate it.

I’m Tyler from 5 Tool Productions. As Kelly mentioned, we’re a video production team specializing in virtual events, content creation, and all things video, really, to be completely honest with you. Our team, we’re made up– we’re small and nimble. That’s the way we like to put our– call ourselves more than anything else.

We like to bring ideas to life. We like to use video more than anything else. We’re basically video geeks that can help tell a story one way or another.

And what’s interesting is, my background, and my partner’s background here at 5 Tool, really kind of came from live television more than anything else. So I started in traditional TV news. I basically drove up the state, the coast of Maine, until you hit Canada. You take a left and drive an hour inland up to a little town called Presque Isle, Maine. And I lived there for a number of years and worked in TV news there.

So that’s kind of where I started out. And then when I moved back to Boston and worked– with my partner Phil and myself, we worked in kind of live streaming more than anything else, broadcasting content for brands for a number of years. And from then, we moved into kind of traditional roles, more marketing, more to broadcasting.

And then we said, like two guys would over a couple of beers, said, you know, we should really do what we were doing but on our own. And of course, that was about six years ago at this point in time. And since then, we’ve evolved to have a little army of just incredibly talented people that can create content on short notice.

So that’s a little bit of our background. Now obviously, we focus more than anything on in-person shoots, prior to, we could call it 16 months ago right now, right? And we were going on location, doing interviews, doing some small events, and coming back, editing things up, and making things great for our folks’ website, whether that was in the higher-ed space, the nonprofit space, or for the for-profit, more B2B than anything else. We didn’t do a ton of business-to-consumer-type content, but it was still there.

Obviously, that changed on– for us, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was, like, March 6, I think was the day that we were driving back from an event in Kentucky. And this was when people were getting emails left and right saying, hey, our event, our stuff is canceled. Can we still do something? What can we do?

So we took an approach and said, all right, well, how do we take this virtual? We obviously can’t do this in person. How do we do this virtually? So really, the last year and a half, that is all we’ve been doing.

We have been going out on location more and more, especially as we get to the kind of hybrid approach. But everything has been pretty much virtual. So with that in mind, we figured, why not show you a little bit of who we are by just giving you a kind of a quick sample of one of our demo videos that shows what virtual events really are for us.

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TYLER PYBURN: All right. So first and foremost, I apologize ahead of time. That song and that jingle will be in your head the rest of the day. I know it has been for mine, our producer in the back, Josh. It has been on both of our heads for basically the last two hours of prepping and getting ready. So I apologize for that, first and foremost.

Now, the next piece of it that I wanted to mention is that you saw colleges and universities. We work with a ton of folks in the higher-ed space. And what we’ve seen more than anything is that there was the need there for folks to really– especially for donors, donor support, and trying to give people an update as to what’s going on on campus, and why should you still give back to your alma mater or a school that you have close ties with. So we’ve seen that over the course of time.

Now, obviously, this last year and a half was pretty much all virtual, as I mentioned. However, you saw a few clips in there that were some in-person shoots. And that’s kind of the world we’re living in now, right? It’s that hybrid approach.

And I keep laughing. I said if “pivot” was the word of 2020, “hybrid” is definitely the word of 2021. I mean, it’s just I feel like every single day we’re seeing it nonstop. But everybody always asks like, what does a hybrid event actually mean?

To simplify it, some people experiencing it in person, some people watching somewhere else, not in person. That’s all it really means at the end of the day. And they’re watching, and they’re engaging with one another. So that’s the most important thing.

And of course, that other place isn’t just Zoom. We want to make sure that that is known, that Zoom isn’t the only place that people can watch an event. And we’ll get to that in just a minute.

Now right now, obviously, you’re watching, you’re participating in Zoom. We obviously appreciate that. But it’s not the only place that you can do it.

So let’s kind of move on, and let’s make the case for why hybrid, why you should do both. I think we’ve seen it over the course of this last year and a half, that there are some positives. While I know nothing will ever take the place of a handshake, a hug, a hi, face-to-face, in-person, that’s wonderful. But there is a case for doing things hybrid as well.

One of the universities we had the opportunity to work with was the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. And they did just a great event that was focused on climate change and what the school was doing for climate change in particular. And it was really meant for a lot of high-profile donors, folks that give back on an annual basis, I should say.

With that, the person that we worked with came back and said, you know, we had donors tune in from Florida, Utah, Virginia, and Maryland who couldn’t have made the trip to campus. And one of the things they had mentioned in conversation with them is that folks actually had tuned in for the first time– excuse me, had basically been on campus virtually for the first time in about 17 years.

So they were able to come in-person. But because they lived so far away, or for a number of other reasons, their schedules just didn’t line up. You still want to make sure that you can go ahead and reach those people. Those digital touchpoints at this point in time go a long way.

Another quote was from the CEO at Evertrue. We’ve actually produced their Raise conference the last couple of years in a row, especially the virtual ones. So if you’ve had the opportunity to tune into that, you may have seen some of our work with them.

But Brent Grinna, the CEO of Evertrue, he came out and said, “Our plan was to host 400 advancement professionals at the Revere Hotel today for Raise 2020.” This was last year’s comment. He said, “Instead we’ll be hosting 2,500 for a fraction of the cost.”

And that’s one of the important parts of it, too, is that if you just do something virtually, it’s a tremendous cost savings. But obviously hybrid, you’re adding a little bit of cost, but it’s not like you’re doubling the price point of your event. If you’re spending, call it, $20,000 on catering, you’re probably not going to be spending that much on a virtual event. Potentially you could, but you might not as well.

And then East Carolina University had something similar to say. They had a brand new chancellor come into the school. And he was fantastic. And they used to do a road show where they would go from place to place throughout the Carolinas and the southern coast, I should say. And they would have town halls. But one of the things that they were able to do with the virtual events, they actually brought in more people. More people were tuning in.

And they didn’t have to actually take the new president’s time out for flying him into a new city, new state, keeping him overnight. It would just take about two hours of his time as opposed to full days at a time. So while he was getting acclimated, it allowed him to streamline that process.

So that’s kind of your reasoning why you should do those. I think we all kind of realize that. The question is, where do you start? What are some of the tools and things that you could put in place to make your event run smoothly?

So we’ll kind of dive into that. And the thing we always want to ask is, how can you connect with every audience on both locations? That’s the one main thing we always try to focus on. We want to make sure that we– obviously, have a wonderful experience in-person. But the folks that are watching at home, it’s not just putting a camera on the stage and saying, go ahead and watch this. You want to make it fun and interactive and engaging for them.

That’s kind of our big thing that we say is like, turn it into a show. Turn it into a TV show for them. Don’t just stream the stage, if you will. You can do that. There’s nothing wrong with it. But give them an experience as well. That’s the kind of my main takeaway from them.

So the way to do that is you start with the end users. And that’s what we always say is, kind of answer these questions. Who is this for? What is your audience expecting? What do they want? Is the audience in the room seeing the same thing as those at home? Are there two separate things? And we’ll get into that in just a little bit.

Don’t let them get lost in the technology. I say don’t get lost in the technology all the time, but it’s easy to do as event professionals, and new things that come out, and when you’re streaming things, how does this go? Let us– or let you focus on the technology. The folks at home, don’t confuse them. Make it easy for them.

They want to say, here’s closed captioning, turn on right here with the CC button. They want to know, OK, if I want to turn my camera on, this is how to do so. Try to simplify the process for them. Especially, I know in higher-ed specifically, if you’re talking to parents, some of them are a little bit older. If you’re talking with donors, they can be even much, much older. You want to make things as easy as humanly possible.

The other kind of point that I want to make with this– the last couple of bullet points on here– is that closed captioning isn’t really just a nice-to-have anymore when it comes to making an event accessible. You want to make sure that you’re doing things in different languages, you have ASL, not just captions.

They are great. They are perfect. But they are now almost a must-have. They aren’t just a nice-to-have anymore. I’m not just saying that, honestly. And what I mentioned is, what languages do they need to hear– and don’t forget about ASL– those are just other things to be thinking about.

And it goes back to the beginning bullet. Who is your audience? Are they in Latin America? Are they in Portugal? Well, are they– what language do they speak? Are they hard of hearing? How inclusive do you want to make this?

And I say, as inclusive as humanly possible. Obviously, sometimes that comes at a cost. But it’s incremental cost for wonderful gains, because you’re inviting people in and making it accessible to them.

So when you’re starting with those end users, we always say start with one question. And that’s, where are they going to watch? Every single time we have a consultation with somebody, we always start with, where do you want them to watch? What is this show about, what is this event for, and where are they going to watch?

And that’s the tech side of things. And there are a number of different ways you can approach that, right? So do you want them on Zoom? Do you want them somewhere else?

And we kind of look at– Zoom is definitely a wonderful place. You’re all here today. It’s great to see all of you. Or at least your names, I should say.

But you can watch it somewhere else as well. And they can tune in elsewhere, in a place that you can really have the ability to kind of control that message. And the way we look at it, outside of Zoom are three different buckets, if you will. That’s a website/microsite, social media, and an event platform.

So what do I mean by that? So your website, you can very easily stream something to a page on your website. We’ve seen a lot of schools specifically do it really well. Tufts University does a great job of this. We’ll give them an embed player.

They actually did this with their commencements. They take an embedded video player that we’ll provide, or another company will provide for you, and you can embed on your website. And the reason why I love that method really more than anything else is because you can control everything. It looks like you, it feels like you, and all of your call to action links there can go to your pages, wherever you decide.

It’s probably one of my favorite things out there to do is to make sure that you get it on your website, because you have the ability to control everything. A great example of this, we actually did this with a forum for the Boston mayors. So we’d take you into a microsite.

And when I say a microsite, I mean the easiest site anyone in the world could go ahead and whip up just using a Google Sites. So if you have a Gmail account, you have access to build a website like this. And this was actually– probably took about two hours’ worth of time.

So this was a panel discussion with all the mayors in the city of Boston. And it was all about homelessness. So I’ll just look. So you have this embedded player right in the middle of the page.

But what else was just wonderful on here was the speakers. We had all the speakers’ names on there, and then had the sponsors that were there as well. And the part when I go back to having things in different languages. If you see in the top right, it says watch in Spanish.

So they had a big group of folks that are saying, I’m going to take my content, and I want to make sure that this is translated into Spanish. So we actually had two different simultaneous streams going on at the same time.

Now, obviously the candidates for mayor weren’t speaking Spanish. But we had a translator come in, and we fed them the feed. They translated it. And we actually then just published it out to a secondary web page right on here. It was just a second stream, a simultaneous stream that was in Spanish.

It’s the same thing that you’ll see for elections when you’ll see things on like Telemundo and things like that. It’s really just a simultaneous stream in a different language, which is pretty cool to see. So this is one of the ways you can approach this. So that is an example of how to get it on your website.

The other part that I want to mention was the social media component. Now, we all know social is– everybody lives there, whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s YouTube, Instagram. Instagram, one thing I always caution folks about live streaming there, just use your phone.

If a production company tells you they have a way to live stream to your account not using your phone, think twice about using them, because your account very well could be caught and banned from Instagram. So that’s just one of those little things to mention.

But in terms of on Facebook, a great example, we worked with a nonprofit called Team Impact. This was their annual gala. So this was last year in the month of April. Yeah, so 4/29, April 29.

They were supposed to have their in-person red carpet gala that’s in the Seaport– beautiful black-tie, lots of Boston celebrities, I should say. A lot of athletes show up and support just a great organization. But they weren’t able to do that.

So about two weeks before their gala, they said, sorry, we can’t do this. Let’s pivot. Let’s change it up. Let’s do something virtually.

And what they did, they put it on Facebook, ran it as a live event on Facebook. As you could see right there, one of my favorite parts was the comments that came in. People talking about how much they just absolutely loved Team Impact, they love this part. The tears that were coming in– I think at one point, I saw someone have that GIF of throwing money out the window, like just take my money. This is a wonderful organization to support.

And that was one of those things we love to see. And you can draw up some really great participation. Facebook and YouTube are great places to kind of catch people. What we always say is while you can just put your audience there on Facebook, it is one of those things that sometimes you want to be a little bit hesitant of, because then you can– people’s attention span isn’t going to be quite as long by comparison to having it on something like Zoom or having it on your website, because people are tuning in for it a little bit more actively participating, as opposed to seeing the next shiny picture of someone’s new car or family pictures and then continue to scroll.

So that’s one thing that we always caution folks about social media. But the one good thing with social in particular is that things like Facebook, things like YouTube, they have captions ready and– ready to go for you, which is just a wonderful thing.

Now, with that in mind, the other thing that we want to mention was an event platform. And that’s something that we’ve seen quite often, to be totally honest with you. With more larger-scale events, you have the ability to, again, just like your website or microsite, control the messaging the whole way through.

But it also allows for some other things as well. So not only can you go ahead and play a stream and play your content out or have it– you can also have live engagement, more breakout rooms, like you would have in Zoom. But some of the platforms have really cool things, almost like Chatroulette or speed dating, I actually heard it called, where folks can be matched up for a minute or two minutes.

And one school in particular was great. They were actually actively trying to figure out how to do this. But they were working with an event management platform to have it so all of the donors are basically on the left-hand side, and all of your current students who have received scholarship are on the right-hand side. And they almost go Chatroulette style or speed dating.

So every minute, they get to connect with somebody new. They say, hi, what are you studying? The students get to say thank you so much for donating, which, that goes a long way, as we’ve seen. And then a minute is up, and they can rotate. And they automatically get placed with somebody new.

So with that in mind, just to rattle off– I mean, we have zero affiliation with these websites, but I just want to throw these out to you so you know and you are aware of them. One of them is called Hopin. They’re probably one of the biggest players in the space. They do a lot of really cool things like that kind of Chatroulette mentality.

There is PheedLoop, which is if you’re going to be doing more of like a true conference, I would say. They do a really good job with, here’s our different sessions and multiple concurrent sessions, and things like that. And then the last one is Hubilo. I’ll probably pronounce this name wrong 500 times. But they do things like VIPs rooms and have other kind of breakout sessions. And they actually have the ability to do– we saw it done like an auction inside of it, too, which was pretty cool.

So three off the bat, Hubilo, PheedLoop, and Hopin. Those are three just so you can think about those as well. So that’s an idea of where you start.

Now, when it comes to the content side of the things, like I said, the word of 2020 was “pivot.” So one of our mottos here is, we always like to say, “pivot don’t replicate.” And it seems like a pretty simple idea. But what we’ve seen is that a lot of people think that what you do in person automatically translates to virtual.

And that’s not the case. You can’t do that. So the thing you need to do more than anything else is, really, take a cue from television. And what we’ve always heard from a lot of folks is they’ve said, well, who’s doing it well? Who are the players in the space that are doing really cool things out there?

And while we like to think that we do a great job ourselves, and there’s a lot of other companies that do, watch television. Watch live events. Because when you think about it, they’ve been doing hybrid events– networks have– for years. This isn’t something new, when you really think about it.

So let me walk through a couple of examples. The first off is the NFL. Now, we’re based here. Our office is in Norwood, Massachusetts, so just down the street on Route 1 from Gillette Stadium. So if you think about it, they’re having a hybrid event every single Sunday, or every single game day.

In-person, their experience is they’re seeing what’s going on on the field. They have their tailgate ahead of time. They’re seeing what’s going on on the field. And they’re watching the jumbotron. So that’s their experience.

Now, if you were at home, you wouldn’t be just seeing one camera on the field the entire time, right? There wouldn’t be one point of view. They’re cutting between different camera angles. They have a host kind of– or the play-by-play announcer and the color commentator kind of breaking down different plays.

They have replays. They have commercials. they have pre-produced segments that are going in between different breaks, where they’re introducing Tom Brady– even though I know he doesn’t play for the Patriots, and incredibly saddened by this, still, to this day.

But still, regardless of it, the NFL does a virtual– excuse me, a hybrid event every single game day. They have a pre-show. They have almost their red carpet show.

So think of it that way, that, well, they’re actually doing these things. Let’s steal some ideas from the NFL. Let’s have some of those pre-recorded elements that we can go ahead and roll into our content. Let’s have maybe a color commentator. Let’s have a pre-show to our events.

Those are some of the little things that you can do to go ahead and try to make your event a little bit a and a better experience for the folks that are at home. And obviously, you are always going to want to have a wonderful experience with the folks that are watching in-person. And you think about just like the NFL, their captions are always there. And they have the SAP button to go ahead and have that translated into Spanish.

You want to make sure you do those exact same things– making your event accessible and making it fun for all parties involved, making sure that those experiences are kind of universally loved from both sides of in-person or virtual.

Now, if you’re not a sports fan, another example that I love that everybody’s heard of at one point in time, and that’s the New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve– if you’re in person, you go to New York City. You’ll never catch me there. I will literally never go to New York City.

Some people love it. To each their own. I know it’s obviously a little bit different now, as we saw this past year. But New York City it’s an experience all their own. You’re kind of locked in shoulder-to-shoulder with people. And it’s a wonderful time for folks that are into that sort of thing.

But the vast majority of people are watching virtually. And while we always try to assume “virtually” means Zoom, it’s not. It can be television. They can watch it on TV as well, right? So they’re actively watching.

And if you’ve watched this past year’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, they were not only bringing things in from New York City. But Ryan Seacrest, as the host, was introducing folks in different time zones. Tell us what’s going on in New Orleans. Tell us what’s going on in Los Angeles. And they would even show what’s happening overseas as well.

So having the ability– don’t look it as a nuisance but as the opportunity to bring in multiple locations, to bring in more people, which means it’s more accessible to everybody. So that’s one of the main things to try to really think about and hone in on– I sound like a broken record, I know that, but– making sure your event is accessible as humanly possible to everybody, both in-person and virtually. And that’s what makes a successful hybrid event.

And at the end of the day, your content is what’s going to matter most, right? Making your content awesome. And there’s three things that we like to focus on when we’re talking about the content. And that’s excite– get them excited.

Engage with them the same way you would engage with them in-person. You say hello to people when they walk through the door in person. You are handing them a cocktail. You’re handing them a drink. You’re handing them a program. Give them that same experience both in-person and virtually. That way, everybody has kind of a similar flow, a similar feel, and great vibes all around.

And the last thing you want to do is, you always want to educate your audience. It’s the same thing when you have housekeeping notes. When someone walks on stage and says, hey, the bathrooms are over here.

When you’re on virtual– Kelly you did a great job– very simply, here’s what you need to do. Here are things that I want to point out to you. Here is just some of those housekeeping notes to remind you of how to turn captions on. If you want to watch it in another language, here’s the tab to go to. Just little things go a long way. But excite, engage, and educate. And that’s what you need to be focused on with your content, specifically.

And the other ways you want to try to enhance your show is similar to what we just talked about a few minutes ago. I’m just going to grab a sip of water, because I’ve talked so much. And the things to think about is red carpet shows before you events, having something lined up that you can have people– as they’re walking in, make them feel part of that excitement, the virtual folks a part of that excitement.

We like to use the example of when you watch the Grammys. I think E! does probably one of the best jobs. They have the red carpet show. Ryan Seacrest– I think he’s everywhere, probably every example I could pull. But he’s on the red carpet shows. He streams the stage.

You could do things like Ask Me Anything room, similar to a postgame for any sporting event. You see the players sit down right now, and they’re no longer in front of a roomful of reporters, they’re in front of Zoom, answering questions from the reporters.

You can set something up for some of your bigger name speakers. Give the folks access that are at home, as well, that are watching. Let them ask questions to people. Have a setup that they can go ahead and do that. Fireside chats, post-interview wrap-ups,

One of the best events here in Boston that we’ve seen that was actually doing this before the pandemic even hit was HubSpot’s Inbound conference. They would have major, major mega speakers. Now obviously, you could buy a virtual pass to go ahead and watch, or you could go spend a pretty penny to see them in-person.

But one of the things that they did, they still wanted to tease their content a little bit more, so they would have their kind of almost their postgame show. So after a big name speaker would finish up on stage, they’d sit down with the host at their booth and just answer a couple of questions and take some questions from the audience as well.

And we’re going to get to your questions. I see a few of them coming in. I know Kelly’s going to tee me up with those questions in just a little bit, which is awesome.

And then things like Zoom walls, having all their participants that might be watching on Zoom, having them in the room. Bring them in the room. Make it fun.

We saw that with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” the last 16 months. They’ve had people that were watching remotely, they had them in the background of their entire show, and again, mimicking television. See what they’re doing.

Because they have a lot of people spending a lot of money and taking a lot of time to create wonderful hybrid events at this point. Think of it that way. Networking booths, sponsored content. Look at this as an opportunity if you have an event that you want something sponsored by– even a group or whoever it may be, honestly– that you can roll in, when I go to pre-recorded content, sponsored content into your show. And that’s a great way to, one, break up your live stream a little bit, give a little bit of a break, because pre-recorded content goes a long way.

But it also allows for a revenue opportunity for you. So use that as a way to say, well, I want almost run an ad as the same way a television show would, or a session for one of our sponsors to go ahead and speak at. So there’s all just small ways that you can use to take your event really to the next level in particular. We love that.

And the kind of other piece with all of this that we really like to focus on– and this was kind of our mantra, honestly, before the pandemic even hit, before people were really focusing on virtual events– and that is using your content. Now, what I mean by that is, before, a lot of times you’d spend all this time planning and preparing for an event that would be in-person.

You’d try to figure out exactly what was going on in each corner of the room, what the seating arrangement is going to be, if you’re going to have a photo booth like a wedding, or what the meals were going to be. A lot of times what we saw– again, this is pre-pandemic– what we would see happen is they’d spend all this time for one day and one day only. And that’s where the event would end.

That shouldn’t happen. Squeeze the juice. Get the juice out of the lemon as much as possible to make the content from that event live on. And maybe it’s a gala. Maybe it’s celebrating donors. Maybe it’s celebrating students. Maybe it’s accolades that they’re doing.

Use that as an– accolades they’re receiving, excuse me. Use that as an opportunity to capture content on site that you can leverage and produce later on. So again, even if you don’t do a simultaneous stream– so you don’t do the hybrid approach, you have something live right then and there and a virtual component at the same time– you can go ahead and say, well, you know what, maybe I’m not going to do this, but I am going to capture the content while on-site. And I’m going to leverage that for later on.

So maybe, if it’s students, you want to capture students saying thank you to either to donors, to their parents, to faculty. But use as an opportunity to capture content as much as possible. Because it’s not that often that you have everybody in one place at one point in time. The same goes virtually.

If you have all these people tuning in– there are still going to be people– I mean, this is a great example. Let me just take a peek real quick how many folks we have logged on. So we have 57 people right now. I’m sure there were more that signed up and aren’t able to attend today. I know 3Play does a wonderful job of getting all their webinars on demand. And you want to make sure you do the exact same thing.

But that’s your approach. Get other things on demand. Get that content on demand so that people can watch it at a later date so that they can get it. And with that mind, one content should break out into multiple pieces of content.

So when I talked about those little individual interviews that you might do or an entire stream– so say you do a full hour-long event. Think of it as a TV show rundown. You’re going to have individual segments. You don’t want to have one person like me this entire time talking for an entire hour, right? You want to have different little pieces that you can then break out and segment and share with your audience at a later date.

So yes, they can go ahead and consume the full live program. But maybe they want to see just the keynote speaker that stepped up on stage for that one hour. I know in schools specifically, there’s all sorts of networking events where panels come in and alums come in and just share their stories. Have that panel be one giant panel discussion that you could watch for an hour, or the 10 minutes from each of the five or six panelists that are up there just having a conversation. But use those as a way to engage with their audience as well. Split that content out into bite-sized chunks as much as possible. That way, you can get things out there.

And of course, that gives you the ability for on demand, to go ahead and caption that, go ahead and get it translated if you need to, and polish it up even more, to make sure that it can go ahead and get in front of a bigger audience, which is what everybody wants. You’re trying to get as many people on as possible and the right people. So get that content captured, not just live. Make sure that lives on a little bit longer.

And some of kind of the takeaways with all this. And my– kind of nearing the end. I saw a couple of great questions. Feel free to put your questions inside, put it in the chat as well. We’re seeing them come in, which is awesome. So I’m going to bring Kelly on in just a minute.

But some of the takeaways for all of this is pivot don’t replicate. In-person does not mean the same thing as virtual. You don’t want to do the exact same thing. That’s tough.

Zoom, it’s great. I love it. We use it every single day. This is a great example of how people use it well. 3Play does a great job of this. But it isn’t the only platform. There are other places that you can go ahead and stream to.

Captions are now the standard. So you need those. And I’m not just saying this because I’m on 3Play’s webinar. Honestly, that’s kind of our approach with everybody, is that you need captions right off the bat, because I guarantee you there’s going to be at least one person in the audience that will say something.

And nothing makes you feel worse, as an event organizer or whatever your title may be, than having someone right from the get-go say, I can’t hear. Where the captions? What are the things that we can do? So little things like that definitely, definitely help.

The other pieces. Mixing in pre-recorded content is just going to enhance the show itself. And again, I use the term “show.” So don’t think of it as, well, it’s just a Zoom meeting. Think of your events as a show. Start producing them. Start putting them together as actual shows.

And pre-recorded content is going to help that. And it’s also going to help your host take a couple of breaks as well. And those kind of lull breakout sessions, that’s definitely going to help you and keep the things moving a little bit as well.

The last two are get the audience involved. Take those questions. Chat, Q&A, Ask Me Anything booth, as we just talked about a few seconds ago, people love those. That’s what we’ve seen. That ability– the reason why folks miss those in-person events isn’t really for the speakers. It’s for the engagement. It’s for talking with one another. It’s for the collaboration.

Open the door to that with some of those either event management platforms, or leverage Zoom breakout rooms and things like that. It’s going to help. It’s going help your event be solid at the end of the day.

And the last thing is make it live forever. Your content shouldn’t live and start and stop on the same day. You want that to live on. And that’s going to give you the opportunity to go ahead and leverage it to your own benefit, honestly, for days, months, and potentially years to come.

The conference that we were talking about before with Evertrue is a great example of that. Their content is– now we’ve done it for the last two years, and they’re still using content from last year that they rolled into this past year’s show. And they’re doing the exact same thing right now to take what they did for this last live show and use it later on as well.

So the last thing before I let you go, because I know we talked about technology. And that was kind of one of the big pieces. Like, don’t let other folks get lost in the technology like your attendees. You can get lost in your technology, though.

So I know, again, we’re going to get to the questions right after this slide in particular. But one of the things I want is like kind of bonus tech tips. What are some of the things that you can do are Slido. So if you put something on your website, Slido is what we actually leverage just about every single event for that chat.

And Slido, so you know, is something that was actually built for in-person events. So I would say there’s nothing worse when you’re at an event and someone wants to ask a question to the folks on stage, and they’re scrambling to get a microphone, or they’re not holding a microphone, or they’re taking the microphone far away from them. That’s just those little things that just drives me absolutely crazy. No one can hear. And then the host has to repeat the question.

Well, Slido is something that folks can just open up on their phone and submit a question. And the host or whoever the person on stage can see them if they have the app open as well. So you see those going, and it works wonderfully for the virtual audience. So that way, you can have both the virtual audience and the folks in person asking the questions live to– or really, just participating and commenting to one another right then and there. It’s a really, really cool little thing that you can do to make your events pretty seamless.

The next thing on there, you see something called Internet Clicker. Yes, it is called internetclicker.com. It is probably the most simple website that I’ve ever come across in my entire life. But it’s one of those things, there’s nothing worse than if you’re doing just a virtual event, having one person share the screen and then, OK, the next speaker goes, and they have to share their screen, and then the next person goes and they have to share their screen.

Well, if you use something called Internet Clicker, if you sign up for an account– and the account is super, super cheap. We have a few licenses ourselves. We actually use this on our end for basically every single presentation. No one share screens. We have somebody else go ahead and log into it.

And the way– you give the participant a code. They can log in. You can see the slides, obviously, like I am right here. And somebody else can be clicking a green arrow or a red arrow to advance the slide or go back. So it will help simplify and smooth things out.

It’s basically a virtual clicker or an internet clicker, if you will. So you could leverage it on-site. You could put it on your phone. And I’ve seen people use this as their remote on site if you’re going through slides. So internet clicker is something that’s really cool.

The other thing to note, kind of tech tip in particular, is something called NDI. So this is more advanced. But NDI is one of the things that will change your entire world, I promise you that. It’s actually how we’re broadcasting this event right here.

I’ll show you the person in the background in just a second. His name is Josh doing all the switching for us. You’ll see his face in a minute. But what NDI allows you to do is turn other pieces of equipment into inputs. And it’s almost creating a virtual camera. So as opposed to– we used to have thousands of cables running to– and then you couldn’t really get a webcam that was really, really nice-looking into your computer.

Well, right now we’re actually using, ourselves using NDI to get into this Zoom meeting. So we’re taking our production switcher. And we are actually taking the feed from the production switcher and sending it out via NDI. And it’s changing our camera input. So you know when you’re in Zoom, and you can change your camera input to my webcam or my– the camera that’s already integrated? Well, it will give you NDI Source, and then you can change the source.

Like I said, it’s incredibly advanced. It’s not something that you’ll be able to pick up a super quick. Slido, Internet Clicker, you’ll pick those up within two seconds. NDI will take some time. But it’s all about your network. So if things are plugged in via– I have right here an Ethernet cable. You essentially can get them all on the exact same network and having different pieces of technology talk with one another.

It’s advanced. But it is really cool and can do some incredible things for you at the end of the day. And the last piece now in terms of tech tips is to get yourself a guy in the back room named Josh that will switch everything for you. So I wanted to just allow him to say hello. There’s Josh giving a wave.

And Josh is in the back right now. He’s in our control room doing all the switching. So he’s kind of our technical director, literally cutting between cameras, making sure the graphics are up, all in the same breath. It really enhances the show that makes it a little different.

The platform that we use is something called VMix. That’s a V as in Victor, M-I-X. And we have a bunch of custom-built machines that obviously not everybody has those built. But you can put pretty light versions of it on a laptop and try to test it out. And they have a great trial as well.

But there’s things like OBS that are free, open-source, that you can try to learn as well. But we love the way this platform works. And it helps us out tremendously and it just helps take the level of production up just a little bit.

So with all that in mind, I want to say thank you so much for hearing me talk for way too long. Obviously, if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. I’m Tyler@5toolproductions.com That’s the number 5 toolproductions.com

And connect with me on LinkedIn. That’s actually one of my favorite places to connect with everybody. I think it’s just awesome to go ahead and do so, which is really cool. So with that in mind, I’m going to open it up to questions. I see that we have a handful in here, which is just super cool.

So keep the questions coming in. And Kelly, I’ll invite you back on so I can finally stop talking, because I’ve talked way too much. So welcome in Kelly, I should say.

KELLY MAHONEY: Thank you very much. I think you actually went for the perfect amount of time. We’ve had a lot of great questions come in already. Sort of a great segue to what you were just talking about, we’ve had some questions about how you managed to make the magic happen with these transitions, and overlays, and visuals that you have. But it sounds like it may be a little bit more advanced.

TYLER PYBURN: Yeah. So with that in mind, there are– I’ve got a kid named Josh out back. Got a guy named Josh, but we have a full team that actually does this as well. So we work on this all the time. We come with, like I said from the get-go, with a broadcast mentality of approaching with transitions with slides.

So we build things out in Photoshop, and we produce pieces out in the Adobe Creative Cloud on Premier, edit them down. And we load them in as if it was a true production environment. You know, I mentioned that we’re in Norwood. We’re probably 15 minutes away from Fox 25, 30 minutes from WCVB Channel 5, and obviously Channel 7. We’re right down the street from all the news organizations with purpose, because we like to model ourselves after the way they approach things.

That being said, there are some other things out there, other platforms. I can’t even think of them off the top my head, to be completely honest with you. But are pretty simple to do, that can give you the double box kind of picture-in-picture effects, could add in some simple transitions as well. I think– is it StreamYard or Stremio is one of them, or two of them? I think they might even be two different ones.

But there’s a handful of them out there. And Kelly, I’m happy to afterwards send along a list of links to you. And if people want to reach out to me directly as well, we can certainly share those that folks can use on their own. We just don’t– I can’t speak for them too well, because I just honestly haven’t used them, because we’ve built out a kind of control room in the background.

KELLY MAHONEY: Absolutely. That’s completely understandable. It helps when you have a guy named Josh. But any resources that you’d like to pass along, we would love to collect. And then if anyone watching would also like to receive those resources, you can absolutely reach out to us at 3Play Media.

We’ve had another question. Someone was asking about live captions that stream during a live presentation. It’s says, the platform they use are Zoom and Otter.ai, but the captions don’t appear in the recorded version. Do you have any idea of how people can make captions translate? And I can speak to that a little more as well.

TYLER PYBURN: Yeah, I’ll let you– I mean, obviously you know how 3Play does it inside and out. So I’ll let you kind of take that piece. I know for us, anything that we have on demand, we basically take the file, we upload it to 3Play, we get the captions, and then we get them embedded into the video, whether it’s burned in or have the ability to toggle them on or off by uploading the .SRT file. But I know you know the process 5,000 times better than I do. So I’ll let you take it.

KELLY MAHONEY: Exactly. That was a great synopsis of the process. The thing with Zoom live captions is they do appear during the live session, but unfortunately they don’t come with a transcript afterwards. So you would have to use some type of platform.

There are also DIY methods of captioning if you’d like to attach those. We have more resources on 3playmedia.com about SRT files, which are an easy way that people can create captions right on your own computer using software that you already have downloaded on your computer.

Another question we had was, a lot of the time with live events people gather at hotels, and they sort rely, to a certain extent, on the bandwidth or other materials provided by the hotel. Do you have any advice for, perhaps, workarounds or ways to not have to depend on that sort of tech support and infrastructure?

TYLER PYBURN: Mm-hmm. So one thing, a lot of hotels have gotten a lot better recently. Just what we are seeing, that they’re offering this a little bit easier than they have in the past. I totally know what you mean.

I remember about 10 years ago being at a conference exhibit hall in Las Vegas, and I think they were charging $100,000 for bandwidth, which is just ridiculous, right? I mean that’s– it’s stupid, to be totally honest with you. But hotels have become a little bit better with that.

However, in terms of workarounds– so you’re not relying on that– there are other places out there, like Conference Wi-Fi. Or for us, we have a kind of– it’s called a cradle port, where we can plug in different network cards and work on our own network as well. And there’s other kind of internet vendors out there that what I would do is just give them a call. And you can go ahead and see what kind of things that they have available to you.

But we’ve streamed off of– actually, at one point in time, I used my cell phone as a hotspot, because the internet was so horrible, actually, at a school, because they didn’t think about the audience being there, all students being on the Wi-Fi. And it was one of the things we talked to them quite a bit about.

But when we went to actually hit the Stream button, their internet just went down, essentially, because every person in the audience, which was a high school kid, was on their phone. We ended up taking it and streaming it from my colleague’s cell phone at that time, with great quality.

So cell phones can do this. And there’s a thing called bonding that can actually take multiple cell phone connections and turn it into one continuous pipe so that you can actually have a little bit more reliable internet. And so we have encoders ourselves that can bond those connections as well in-house that can give you a little bit more reliability.

And trust me, I know what you mean. It’s one of my worst fears, being dependent on someone else’s infrastructure. It can go wrong. We’ve seen it happen. So doing as much as you can ahead of time, testing like crazy, and bringing in your own equipment goes a long way.

KELLY MAHONEY: Absolutely. With that said, sort of along the lines of equipment, somebody asked, what factors do you look at to determine which elements of an event should be hybrid versus what might be better as completely virtual or in person? They give the examples of location of talent, or where to bring the gear, things like that.

TYLER PYBURN: I hate saying it, but it totally depends. I mean, that’s a loaded question. I think I know the person that asked that question, too, which, he would try to stump me. I know he would. But it’s OK.

But with that in mind, it really does depend on the type of event. Are you doing a day-long conference, or are you doing an hour-long reception? It depends on the audience.

What we’ve found ourselves is that people have a much shorter attention span for the virtual conference as they do from the in-person component. But that being said, we’re also seeing the in-person conferences be a little bit shorter now as well, because they realized that, well, I can just digest this a lot quicker virtually as well.

It also depends on what we’ve seen– like if people need their CEUs to sit in for a full hour to make sure that they get credits, or if it’s something just for kind of fluff. When I say fluff, just from an engagement standpoint. So it really does depend on the size of the space, the location.

What we try not to do is we want to always make sure that we have at least two cameras on site when we go on site, never just one, because it just helps vary the shots and allows us to align. And we have a complete road kit– it’s a studio in a box, essentially– that we can pick up, bring on site, and set up within an hour and be ready to roll. And I say that. Josh and the team out back is probably saying, not an hour, it’s going to take a lot longer than that. But we set it up pretty quickly and get it up and rolling.

So it really depends. You know, if someone wants a red carpet event– we’re producing a red carpet event in a couple of months, where they need a full set buildout. So we have to bring in everything. And they need live engagement. So they have a Zoom room that is just specific for the folks on site.

So there’s a bunch of different moving parts. So it really does depend on the scale of the event and how much you want the virtual audience to have as well.

KELLY MAHONEY: Absolutely. I think it also– the great thing about hybrid events is how flexible they are. So you can really mold it to fit whatever kind of event you want to have.

TYLER PYBURN: Yeah.

KELLY MAHONEY: We had another question. Someone asked, could you please explain more about how to feed a translation to a microsite?

TYLER PYBURN: Yes, absolutely. So we– a great example of this is one that we were working with– the Boston mayoral discussion. I’ll open that up as well. So we actually had– let’s see. I’ve got that up. So if Josh wanted to bring it, he can.

But we actually had two different feeds going at the exact same time. So we had in our studio, in our office, we have two control room environments. So the main feed was in English right here. We streamed that to YouTube. And that was a YouTube player and embedded on the microsite.

And then in Spanish, if you go to that page, you’ll see that it was actually streamed via Vimeo. So we streamed it to a completely separate platform, put another embed code. And that was embedded on the website as well. And the folks that were listening in Spanish actually heard the interpreter.

And she was phenomenal. I don’t know how she did it for an hour. And there were people talking quickly, as mayoral candidates can do. They were going back and forth with one another. And she translated the entire thing. And the folks that were watching on the other end, we had nothing but fantastic feedback.

So we basically ran two separate events, if you will. It’s kind of the easiest way to think of it. But in the back end, we basically took the feed from– that all the English speakers were doing. We let the Spanish interpreter then translate everything. And we took her voice, fed it over the feed via our other control room environment and sent it up to this other feed.

So really, anybody that was on site and actually watching this remotely– which was cool, that a few of the homeless shelters in the city of Boston actually had different rooms, and they had one for an English-speaking room, one for a Spanish-speaking room, and they were able to bring it up full screen. And we had nothing but wonderful feedback on that. They were extremely happy that they were able to have that, which was really cool to hear.

KELLY MAHONEY: That’s great. I know I’m always impressed at interpreters’ ability to take in one language and spit it out in another one. It’s so impressive.

TYLER PYBURN: I have no idea how they do it. It’s remarkable, it really is.

KELLY MAHONEY: All righty. So then we had another question, if you happen to have any tips on this, how you can ensure that all of your content is accessible to participants who might be blind or low vision.

TYLER PYBURN: Mm-hmm. That’s a tough question. We haven’t really dealt with that too much just yet. Some of the questions– the things that we always want to say is that audio is so incredibly important. Your audio needs to be crystal clear at all points in time.

The other piece of that is, similar to a translator, what we’ve talked with– we talked with one group, another local school– not local, I’m sorry. It’s another school far away, actually, on the other side of the US. I don’t know why I called it local. They’re a small school.

But they were talking about having similar to an interpreter, but almost like a color commentator, like you would in sports, somebody there that, if there were visuals up on screen, that person during those time frames would actually come on and try to paint the picture a little bit more, which was kind of cool. We didn’t end up going through. We didn’t end up doing that.

But it is one of those things– to the point I was making before, trying to make it just incredibly accessible for all people involved. That was one of the things that we had originally discussed with folks. It’s kind of one of the ideas that we heard about.

KELLY MAHONEY: Absolutely. One thing that I would say is helpful is, occasionally I’ve seen in Zoom format meetings like this, there will be an ASL interpreter who joins and is given the spotlight, so anyone who needs it can see that visually. And then on another baseline level, 3Play would just recommend audio description where possible, which could even be as simple as if you have various speakers at an event just announce themselves, perhaps give a brief description of themselves, and then just describe any and all visual information that’s being communicated– so any slides, PowerPoints, things like that. It can be very helpful to blind or low-vision users.

TYLER PYBURN: Yeah, and that’s the other thing, too. Like the case for captions and translation is not just for within the video itself. We’ve seen a huge boost from people that are leveraging that, and even those descriptions, honestly, in post events, or for just from a search perspective, having that readily available so all the search engines can crawl it. It just helps. It helps your content get seen a bit more.

KELLY MAHONEY: Absolutely. And then I think one of the last things that somebody asked us was, could you just repeat the names of the platforms you mentioned when you were discussing social media?

TYLER PYBURN: So social media, we look at– there’s Facebook, there’s YouTube. You could stream something to Twitch, to Twitter. We’ve seen some success with the National Football League Players Association. We did an event with them at one point in time, and they had great views on Twitter. So it really depends on where your audience is.

The other event management platforms– and actually, Josh in the back, I’ll bring those up. The three that I mentioned before were Hopin– so H-O-P-I-N .com, so hopin.com. They do a really, really great job. They have just received a lot of funding. They’ve raised like $1 billion in the last two years since they started, like, legit a $1 billion, it’s wild.

The other one is PheedLoop– P-H-E-E-D loop, L-O-O-P .com. They are another event management platform. I’ve noticed them work really well with conferences, with like simultaneous tracks. They have a Zoom integration into their platform, which is really cool and helpful.

And then the third one was Hubilo– H-U-B-I-L-O. So hubilo.com. They also do a great job. We’ve done some really cool things with them. One of the vendors that we work with a lot, an event company, leverages Hubilo. Event company works with event management platform which works with production team is how this relationship worked with when we started work with Hubilo.

And they do some pretty cool things as well. And I think it’s a little cheaper, too. But there are different ways you can approach. And they have different, either per-event, or if you want to buy something for six months. And that goes for all the platforms. You can buy it for a year-long subscription. So if you know you’re going to have multiple events over the course of the year, you can leverage those.

So yeah again, just one more time– Hubilo, PheedLoop, and Hopin. And there’s another one called Brandlive that is a little bit more pricey. But you can customize a whole website on there as well. That was Brandlive. So those are the four. And I just thought of Brandlive off the top my head, so I didn’t even mention that before.

KELLY MAHONEY: That’s great. Thank you very much. And it looks like we’re just about at 3 o’clock. So I just wanted to ask, did you have any other resources or any information you wanted to share with us, or perhaps a final slide with your contact info once again?

TYLER PYBURN: Yeah. So again, it’s just that thank you slide one more time. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. If there’s anything specific– even if you’re not looking to work with us, that’s totally fine, you know. Any time we do this, I love talking shop with folks.

So it’s Tyler@5toolproductions.com. So the number 5, T-O-O-L productions.com. I would love it, honestly, if you connected with me on LinkedIn. So I’m Tyler Pyburn. So that’s my name. Like, I burn pies. That’s the way to explain it.

But Tyler Pyburn on LinkedIn. And I hope to connect with you there. That’s probably one of my favorite places to connect with everybody right now.

KELLY MAHONEY: And with that, thank you. Thank you very much, Tyler. And I think we are all set for today.

TYLER PYBURN: Awesome. Thank you so much, Kelly. Thanks, everybody who tuned in. This is– was just fantastic. Really appreciate you all taking time out of your day to listen to me rant and rave for about an hour.