Videos are a great asset to a webcast – especially if they are interesting and pertinent to your content. It breaks up the presentation, and allows your speakers a little break as well. However, if you are going to incorporate videos into your webcast, there are a few key technical items you should consider first.
You want to make sure that the videos are in the best file format recommended by the webcasting platform that you are using. We typically recommend an .mp4, it’s a pretty universal format on most platforms from WebEx to ON24. You also want to make sure that the files size and bitrate of the video are small enough to play and be consumed by your attendees without causing issues. The best way to do this is to look at the bitrate of your file and compress it down to as small as possible without impacting the quality of the video. What exactly is the bitrate you ask? You’ve probably heard the term but let’s break it down to the different “pieces.”
In all video files, you have the video data, audio data, and “Overhead Container” which has the data about the video and the codec type – these are basically the instructions that a computer would use to play the file. The Bitrate is the number of “bits per second” (bps) at which data in a video is being delivered. The size of the file and the quality of the image and sound are both controlled by the bit rate used. The higher the bit rate, the better the potential quality and the larger the file size. Lower bit rates should be used for international audience or events with a large number of people accessing the webcast from the same network. Higher overall bit rates may be utilized, but when exceeding 800 Kbps, many attendees may experience latency, buffering or playback issues.
If you are looking at the details of a file, you will also notice a Frame Per second rate or (fps). For low movement videos, such as instructional videos and live webcams, a 15fps frame rate will provide a clear and quality stream to the audience. Higher frame rates are permissible but do consider that 24+ fps is utilized for HD video and broadcast television; 15 fps will greatly reduce the file size without noticeably affecting quality. If a cursor is the only constant motion, 1 fps may be sufficient.
For most webinar platforms, video clips are displayed in the slide viewing area, so to keep things consistent, we recommend matching the video frame size to the same aspect ratio as your slides. So if you are using slides that are 16:9 (widescreen), you would ideally want your video to be 16:9. If your slides are 4:3, then your video frame should also be 4:3 so it fits in the space without being stretched or resized. Dimensions for videos – for 16:9 ratio you would want 640 x 360, 480 x 270 and 320 x 180. For 4:3, you would want 640 x 480, 440 x 330, 400 x 300 and 320 x240 pixels.
Audio Format and Specs
AAC Audio format is preferred if using H.264, with MP3 the mobile stream might encounter issues. 32 Kbps audio is sufficient and will allow the video to be encoded at a higher bit rate. Anything over 96 Kbps for the mono audio stream is superfluous unless the audio was recorded in a studio.
So next time you are creating a video for your webinar or webcast, keep the specifications and tips above in mind to ensure your video will shine without the risk of streaming issues for your attendees. V2 is happy to assist with any file compression or clean up needed to ensure your videos play flawlessly.
In her TED talk, Rebecca Kleinberger discusses her studies on how we use and understand our voice and the voices of others. In her studies she states that changes in the voice can mean many things, from depression, to hormonal changes, to even detecting pregnancy. She describes our three voices – our Outward, Inward, and Inner voices. Our outward voice is the voice we use when we are speaking with others, it’s the sound that others hear. Our Inward voice is the voice we hear as we are speaking, and the two can sound quite different, as our inward voice is being processed through our bone and inner ear. Our inner voice is what we hear when we read something silently, what we hear when we are thinking or dreaming. Though we can’t always control it, we can always engage with our inner voice.
Why is it that we do not like the sound of our outward voice on recordings? Well, as described above, we are used to hearing our inward voice when we speak. So thus, the thought many of us have which is: “Is that really what I sound like?” is because our outward voice is indeed different from our inward voice. Our inward voice travels through our bones (bone conduction), so it will sound deeper and more harmonious, then it travels through our inner ear, and the cochlea which then processes the sound. We find that seasoned speakers are very comfortable with their inward and outward voices. The trick we have found to getting comfortable with your recorded voice is to practice your presentations, and listen to your recording. Your voice is an amazing thing and can be changed in volume and tone with deeper breaths, posture, and breathing exercises. Play with your inward and outward voices until you find a voice that sounds that best for your presentation and audience.
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
For those new to the virtual world of webinar presentations, virtual stage fright can be a real fear. Although for those who suffer from stage fright, it can ease your fears a bit if you aren’t on camera and are just speaking to slides and demos. However, in my experience the silence and lack of eye contact from live attendees on a webinar can be difficult for even seasoned public speaking professionals. For many, that lack of in person audience acknowledgement can be tough to gauge interaction and interest.
What causes stage fright? The reasons for having stage fright vary from person to person, but commonly those with stage fright lack self-confidence. Some may have anxiety from being unprepared, forgetting their lines, and being negatively judged by their audience. Stage Fright is at its core a physiological response, commonly referred to as “Fight or Flight.” When presented with a stimulus, our reaction is either excitement or fear. This triggers the release of adrenaline, which gives us a huge boost of energy to stay and fight the stimulus or flight – to run away from the stimulus. The classic symptoms of stage fright – stomach pain, shaking, trembling, vomiting and shortness of breath, are the side effects of this burst of adrenaline coursing through our bodies.
Whether you are giving a live presentation or a virtual one, you are probably wondering, how do I overcome my stage fright? We thought we would share a few easy techniques that if practiced can help you quell your anxiety.
- Get your Sweat on! – This may seem counter intuitive, but redirecting the energy causing your stage fright symptoms to exercise can help focus your energy away from your nerves. Try doing your normal exercise routine that morning to help alleviate some stress, and even right before your presentation, try rubbing your hands together really fast to pass on all your nervous energy.
- Just Breathe. Focus on your breath. Breath deeply, and exhale and inhale at least 15 to 25 times. This will help your mind and body relax.
- Practice your Presentation. Practicing and knowing your speech inside and out will help you feel prepared and less anxious about forgetting your lines. Repeat it until you know it by heart without having to look at your notes.
- Eat Healthy. This may seem like another strange one, but the foods you eat can affect your anxiety level. Avoid drinking caffeine prior to your performance as these will only make you more jittery, also avoid that soda so you don’t accidentally burp halfway through your presentation!
- Drink Water. Drink some water before your presentation to avoid your mouth from going dry – however be careful not to drink too much to avoid feeling like you need to go the bathroom while you are speaking.
In his charming TED talk, graphic designer and folk singer-songwriter Joe Kowan talks about how he beat stage fright. He actually wrote a song about stage fright describing exactly how he was feeling while it was happening, and by exploiting his anxiety and allowing the audience to feel it along with him, he was able to overtime, over come it.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful the next time you are confronted with the old “fight” or “flight” stimulus response. You would think that by now, our bodies would recognize the difference between a virtual presentation and a Grizzly Bear. We are here for you and V2 will do whatever we can to easy your anxiety along the way.
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
Everyone’s lives are busy and packed with a million things to do – whether it be in your personal or professional life. We’ve all heard the term “multi-task” and we all do it, perhaps even on a daily basis. However, we must ask ourselves, how efficient is multi-tasking? Yes, maybe we are accomplishing multiple tasks at once, but how efficient are we completing those tasks? In his TED talk, “Forget Multi-tasking, Try Mono Tasking” Paolo Cardini talks about the busy world in which we live and how technology and endless apps allow us to “multi-task.” You might be cooking dinner, talking to a friend, and trying to send an email all at once, and then you smell something burning right as you are about to hit send. This is the fallacy that can happen when we try to multi-task – something can get forgotten or not done to the best of our abilities. He playfully shows images of our iphones paired down to a single calling function, and a simple “compass” app to bring us back to a simpler time when we focused on one thing at a time.
Planning events, whether in person or in the virtual landscape can be a daunting task, with many facets – from marketing to scheduling to finding speaker talent and narrowing down a topic. Those things take enough of your time without having to focus on all the behind the scenes technology – such as webcast schedule and setup, branding, video compatibility, emails, and reports. That’s where we come in. Let V2 help take care of all the logistics so you don’t have to multi-task when it comes to your event, and you can “mono-task” on one thing at a time. Our mission is to make your life a little less stressful, so you can focus on the message, not the mess-ups.
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
- Simplicity is key. Don’t over do it with tons and tons of text. Your slides should be an addition to your presentation. You shouldn’t be reading off your slides verbatim.
- Limit bullet points & text – images and charts are more powerful when telling your story
- Here’s a biggie – limit your animations, transitions, and builds. Too many of these can be overwhelming and cause you to get off track. Also, some transitions and animations may not translate well to your webcast platform, depending on what you are using. Always check with your producer on best practices.
- Use high-quality images
- It’s great to have a theme and company template to incorporate. Avoid using the PowerPoint Templates.
- Incorporate charts where appropriate, and make sure numbers and text are legible.
- When using colors, stick to your theme or your company colors. This makes your presentation more professional and cohesive
- Choose basic, clean fonts and keep it consistent. Sans serif fonts are cleaner and easier to read.
During this Holiday Season, our thoughts turn gratefully to our clients who’s partnership has made 2017 a great year. It is in this spirit that we say… Thank you and best wishes for the holidays and a very happy New Year. V2 had a wonderful company holiday dinner this year at Woodsman Tavern, in the hip Southeast district of Portland. We shared in some delicious southern themed food, including fried chicken, collard greens, homemade smoked ham, and oysters! It was a wonderful way to bring the year to a close and celebrate our achievements as a team. Thanks to our owners, Tania and Aaron for the fun holiday dinner!
May this season bring you the gifts of peace, hope and joy. To kick off your season with some laughs, V2 made this short holiday video for your viewing pleasure.
(Don’t worry, no V2 employees were harmed in the making of this jib jab video).
Happiest of Holidays and New Year!
The V2 Crew
We celebrated Halloween in style last week with a company wide potluck! The team even dressed in costumes…we had a hippie, skeleton, giraffe, witch, queen, a dancing pumpkin, a knife victim, and last but not least….Donald Trump (Drumpf), who brought in his “wicked weenies” to our potluck ..thanks Don. We had quite the feast of salmon (thanks Aaron!), fried chicken, and delicious cupcakes, and some spoooky cider!
The V2 dogs Peyton and Abbey even dressed up for the occasion as a taco and squirel enthusiast!! We hope you all were able to take a break from your busy work schedules to enjoy Halloween and all the tricks and treats! Happy fall, and Happy Halloween from the V2 Crew!
Below are some great tips on how to engage and get your audience hooked into your presentation within the first few minutes. The biggest items to think about from the attendees’ perspective are: What am I going to get out of it? How does this benefit me? Start simple by filling in the below remarks with content that fits your presentation.
- During this session you will hear from (speaker names/bio/background, how their expertise brings value).
- You will have the opportunity to ask questions about (key topics to be covered in the presentation).
- You will discover where to get more information about (great idea to include contact information and other handouts at the end as well).
- During this session you will see a demonstration of (software or other products that might benefit from a live demo).
Follow these tips and we guarantee attendees will be engaged, ask questions, and stay for the duration of your presentation!
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
Many of you have probably attended webinars or webcasts where the speaker demos an application or software from their desktop to give a sneak-peak or preview to audiences that may be interested in purchasing a software or application license. While most speakers tout their “live demo” in the webcast description, sometimes, those “live demos” are pre-recorded and shared as video content. I know, I know…gasp! The reason many speakers do this is to make their demos as smooth as possible and to be able to edit out any mistakes, pauses, or “ums.” However, pre-recording your demo is not necessarily always the answer, sometimes it’s best to run the demo live. Let’s take a look at each option in more depth, shall we?
Here are some top instances when pre-recording your demo is a good option:
- If the speaker who is giving the demo cannot be on the live session, then it is obviously a good option to have them pre-record their demo content and share it as a video. In this situation, you don’t have much choice if they are unable to make the scheduled time of the webinar.
- If the content you plan on sharing is highly technical and requires graphic heavy and bandwidth intensive software or multiple applications to achieve, then it may be a good choice to pre-record the demo as a video. Trying to share too many data rich applications at once can really slow down your connection to the webcast and cause a bigger delay in the audience demonstration.
- Your speaker will be traveling or is in a location with poor internet. This is a good reason to pre-record the demo in this instance to avoid delays or issues connecting to the webcast sharing Having a solid wired connection to the internet is KEY when presenting on any webinar or webcast!
- Some best practices to follow when recording your demo – use software that allows for good audio quality and try not to make the video too large in size. Make sure you are checking with the webcast provider on optimal video bit-rate specs to ensure the video isn’t going to run into buffering issues.
Here are some ideas on when to run your webcast demos live. (Don’t Be Scared!)
- Your demo is relatively straightforward – you are sharing one application, platform, or software, and you’ve tested the sharing option in the webcast and everything is working fine. Doing the demo live does tend to sound less “scripted” and you can better respond to questions as people are asking them.
- Often, presenting your demo live allows you to bring up your sharing screen again later in the session. Perhaps an audience member asked a question about a feature that you initially hadn’t thought about sharing; doing a live demo gives you the freedom to do so.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. One way to alleviate your nervousness about doing a live demo is by doing what you do during any presentation…practice! Practice by yourself, in front of colleagues, in the webcast meeting room. Practicing will calm your nerves and will allow your presentation to flow naturally.
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
As the V2 Adobe Connect Pro subject matter expert on our team, I’ve produced a myriad of trainings and events with my clients on the Adobe Connect Pro platform. Adobe Connect is one of my favorite platforms as an event manager because of its flexibility and collaboration features which lend itself well to a virtual classroom. Let’s take a peek at some of these features and how you can utilize them in your trainings.
Adobe Layouts – What are they? Layouts are a feature that allows you to create different elements or pods within the adobe connect meeting room. These pods include chat, polls, video (webcam), links, Q&A (moderated questions & answers), and share pods that allow you to share presentation files as well as your computer screen. Adobe Layouts let you as the Host choose where these pods live, and how they appear. For example, at one point in your presentation, you may wish to poll the audience on whether or not they have completed pre-work required of them prior to the training session. You can easily switch to this layout with the pre-loaded poll questions by using the layout panel on the right side of the screen. Click on the layout icon in the panel to switch your view. Layouts allow you to easily customize and re-organize the look and activities you want present in the meeting. You can set them up ahead of your meeting and you can alter them on the fly using prepare mode under Meeting options.
Using Prepare mode allows you to move to a different layout and change pods or load content while keep the attendees and presenters on the active pod. This is extremely helpful if you have last minute changes in content that need to be updated while in session.
Presenter Only Area – The presenter only area of the Adobe Connect Meeting or Seminar room is a handy tool that easily allows you to store pods/see layouts/chat your other presenters without attendees having any knowledge of this. At V2, we utilize this area to keep presenter notes on the presentation, have an chat pod open amongst presenters to give cues and communicate any issue/questions that may appear during the session. It is also a great way to prep and get ready any new pods you may decide to add to your presentation on the fly. For instance if you decide to add a poll, or bring in a chat pod for the attendees you can select this in the layout menu, and it will automatically open in the presenter only view first, where it will remain until you drag and drop it into the attendee area.
Breakout Rooms in Adobe Connect allow you to separate your attendees into different virtual rooms for group collaboration. The Host simple organizes the attendees into different groups using the breakout view and starts breakouts, and like magic attendees are in their own private virtual meeting and audio conference. The Host can move seamlessly in and out of each breakout room and back to the main meeting. Once you are ready to bring everyone back, then with the same click of a button, attendees return to the main session. You can load separate presentations into each breakout group, separate chats, polls, and any other interactive elements that fit your group activity.
We highly suggest Adobe Connect Pro for your corporate trainings and internal meetings. We think you’ll find that with Adobe Connect Pro you can create interesting, collaborative virtual trainings that will keep your attendees engaged. Reach out to the V2 Crew for more info on how we can help you best utilize Adobe Connect Pro’s unique features with your training goals.
V2 | Virtual Event Manager