Live-Streaming: Tips before, during and after, and tools you’ll need
Many of us host public events, including debates and candidate fairs. We’re wondering now about public health declarations limiting or prohibiting public meetings. This is not a conflict in the LWVOR (Oregon) Voter Service Policy:
Some debate seating must be open to the public for no more than a nominal fee and/or complete unedited debate coverage must be publicly accessible to the public through the media, preferably via radio, television, or cable broadcast, and/or the Internet.
Decide whether you want to broadcast live and/or record and post a video after the event. Figure out how to ask questions from the public, in advance and/or in real time. There are multiple options and some need technical savvy. See below for more advice about policies and broadcast disclaimers.
In Advance, During, and After
From the Kittitas CO LWV: flog the beejeesus out of your upcoming live stream all over your social media beforehand – really get the word out, including boosting the event on FB.
Set up the apps in advance. Live-stream to your own account, Facebook, YouTube, etc., and see how it looks and sounds. Check if you need to hold your laptop or phone camera horizontally or vertically.
Establish and test incoming Question stream(s)
Assign monitors for your incoming questions to your Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter, email, or others. Forward questions to your panel to vet and coordinate them. If you have an in-person audience, assign pages to collect written questions.
Make sure your phone/camera is fully charged in advance and/or plug it in to an outlet. NOTE: if you use a smart phone and plug it into an outlet, a port you may need for a microphone will be taken.
Make sure you can access your venue’s WiFi. Check WiFi strength! See Public Event Recording to advise the audience, to protect your signal bandwidth.
On-Site Advance Prep
Go to the venue early, before you will be needed to answer questions from others, maybe an additional half an hour, for advance sound and lighting tests. Protect your direct line-of-sight video access. Make sure an in-person audience (if you have one) can’t walk in front of your camera during the event. Also remind them not to walk in front with your announcements at the start.
Try to live-stream and record in segments instead of a single extended session. Shorter videos get better viewership and you can address and limit any technical problems. If you present a series of candidate groups for different races, and ballot measures, those would be natural breaks, and allow for press availability and audience recesses, both pro & con, since they may leave if they came for a hot race.
Post-event video posting
After the live event, you can download Facebook video, add some titles, links, etc. This is when you add intros, branding, titles, etc.! Facebook will tell you how many watched during and after the event and YouTube will also count views. You can get powerful data about your audience.
YouTube channel: Upload your videos and organize them into playlists. Post your playlist links onto social media and link to other helpful or informative sources, too! We link organized candidate interviews on our website in the Video Voters’ Guide section. Be sure to consider posting more, including helpful Census information, for example!
Accessories and Equipment
- Use a Tripod! Avoiding shaky video images is important. Phones can be clamped to most photographers’ tripods, or you can buy small ones, or make free ones, mostly for tabletops.
- Sound is the weakest part of any livestream with lighting a close second. Use a microphone, or get a sound system of your own. With no endorsements implied, here’s advice on choosing phone microphones; prices range from ~$30-$100.
- Port splitter to plug in more than one thing at a time to your camera or phone. Consider a 2-mic sound system (think mini-karaoke).
- Zoom lens to go to individual speakers or audience pan, etc.
- Cables Make sure you connect! Check in advance and be sure you have what you need and they work for the space.
- Video Camera This may be better than your phone camera. Consider it for recording and posting after the event.
Disclaimer and Recording Public Events Policy
People expect live-stream and/or recordings at public events now. You may inform the in-person audience (if any) that it is being recorded. To be cautious
- Announce in the live-stream and recording that you are recording at the start of the event. See the sample disclaimer statement below.
- Avoid recording the audience. Focus on invited speakers and panelists.
- Ask your audience to refrain from using the same wifi as it will slow/glitch your video stream if the bandwidth is used up.
Sample Content Disclaimer (LWV Kittitas County): all Washington state Leagues now announce this Candidate Night disclaimer:
LWVOR Voter Service Policy does not address event recording or sharing limits or bans by attendees or others. You may actually want to encourage as much publicity as possible. Consider enforcing a ban on others recording or live-streaming may be impossible. One of our local Leagues saw edited content posted by others that misrepresented their proceedings. This may get worse and if we post accurate versions, we can defend them.
From LWV Coos County Policy:
See our guidelines on File and Document Sharing and Virtual Meetings.