We’ve all seen live video – sporting events, awards shows, 24-hour news.  When you see that little “live” tag in the corner of the screen, you know that what you’re watching is immediate, unpredictable, and sometimes even unscripted.  For awards shows and sporting events, it makes you feel like you’re there.

Conference video should feel the same way.  Video taping and distributing video of a conference two weeks or a month later is a great way to preserve past conferences or give attendees a refresher course in what they learned, but for those who never attended the conference, a DVD received sometimes months down the road can get buried under paperwork and never watched.  A conference is, like an award show or football game, an event best experienced live.  That’s why companies are willing to pay for their employees to travel to conferences.

The audience for a conference doesn’t have to be limited to those who can attend in person.  A conference with a thousand attendees, unlike a sporting event with millions of viewers across the nation, is small enough to allow interaction with the audience.  A speaker might open the floor for questions, or the audience might divide into small groups for brainstorming.  With current technology and an experienced A/V crew, a conference can be multicast to any attendee with web access.  Multicasting a conference is a process that starts long before the event itself.  An A/V company prepares a platform for web streaming and gathers content such as PowerPoint slides and videos the speaker may show.  This content is programmed so that slides can be advanced remotely, and the whole show is uploaded to a password-protected server.  When a user logs on during the conference, he will see a live feed of the conference, Flash-based PowerPoint slides that advance with the current speaker, and perhaps a reply box for feedback.  Replies can serve as a digital “raised hand”, allowing remote attendees to ask questions or provide answers.

But what if it’s one of your speakers who can’t attend?  Say he can’t leave the office for more than a day but still wants to contribute.  A video crew can meet your speaker anywhere and send a live feed to the conference.  With an audience feed coming the other way, your speaker can see raised hands and interact as if he were present at the conference.  His PowerPoint slides can even be projected on one screen while his face is on the other.  With multiple video feeds, an entire panel could attend remotely.

Video feeds and Flash-based content can turn your conferences into live, interactive events.  With a web-based platform attendees can take post-conference assessments, re-watch breakout sessions they missed, or even participate in discussion groups long after leaving the conference room.