4 Reasons Why Your Next Event Should Be Captured On Video

“But If I Put It Online, People Won’t Come To My Live Event…”

Whether you’re organizing a tech conference, a non-profit workshop, or a marketing summit, it takes a lot of work and money. So naturally, you might be worried about how putting your event online could impact attendance. Here are 4 reasons why you have everything to gain from hiring a videographer for your next event.

There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction

packed conference room with video camera recording

In this connection economy, people fork out hundreds of dollars to attend live conferences for the chance to network with likeminded people, the hope of meeting someone they respect highly in the flesh, the feeling of laughing or gasping alongside thousands of others in the room, or even the bragging rights – being able to say “I was there!”

Your Online Content Sells Your Next Live Event

hands in the air at a crowded concert venueThink TED Conference vs. TED Talks online. Without the hundreds of TED talks available for free viewing online, it’s unlikely that TED would have spread as quickly and as far to become the international hit that it is now. Because when it’s valuable content, and easily accessible, it will be shared. Now ask yourself, how much more likely will someone be willing to fork out the money to attend the annual TED Conferences after they’ve had a free taste of what to expect?

If there’s one thing the modern day musician has learned, it’s that having a couple of their songs available online for free helps fuel the fire that spreads their art. And the real return comes from selling out concerts and merchandise to the dedicated fans who stumbled upon their music.

Reward Your Attendees

The one thing that audience members always come up to me to ask whenever I’m filming at an event is “when can I see this online?” For your attendees, having video becomes a valuable resource they can access anytime for a re-cap.

First, how great would it be if your attendees could spend that time really listening and engaging with the speaker, instead of struggling to write everything down at breakneck speed? I’ve seen many attendees faces completely light up when the organizer announces, “these talks will be recorded and made available to you after”.

Second, how many times have you found yourself at a conference saying “oh man, session A sounds good, but I really want to attend session B too!”. Save your attendees the heartbreak of having to miss out on one session just because of scheduling. Let them know you have them covered.

Great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you want your website to show up in search results, then the content on your site needs to have valuable and relevant answers to questions that people have when they search the web. For example, if I were looking for information on how best to use social media to raise awareness about my conference, I might search Google for “how to use social media to market my event”. If you have a video of the “social media marketing” workshop that took place at your conference and put it on your site alongside a good writeup and carefully chosen search keywords, Google is more likely to recommend your page as a result for my search.

Spread Your Message

If your goal in organizing the event is to spread the word and for people to learn something new, then making your workshops, panels and sessions available for viewing online will simply extend the reach of your message. After all, why limit your impact to the capacity of the venue you’re in?

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Written by Shuling Yong
Shuling Yong is the founder of Media For Social Change, a Chicago video production and marketing company. She’s a documentary filmmaker, community engagement specialist, and a speaker at conferences. You can find her on Google+ and Twitter.

Creative Fundraising and Audience Engagement

In these tough times of shrinking budgets and attention spans, we are forced to think of creative ways to raise funds and keep our audience engaged. Here’s how I found one unique avenue, right when I least expected.

Intuitive Technology

I had my virgin flight with Virgin America Airlines recently, and while I was impressed by the sleek plane design and cheeky safety announcements, I noticed something in front of me that I’d never seen on any other airline – a touch screen monitor. On it were instructions on how to use the touch screen navigation bar to watch movies on demand, free tv, and even order food.

touch screen menu on board virgin america airplane

Hungry? All I had to do was browse through their selection of snacks and beverages (options for the health-conscious included), add them to my cart, swipe my credit card through the built-in slot, and voila! The flight attendant brings my order to me in a matter of seconds. It felt just like shopping on Amazon.

Applied To Do Good

So I thought to myself… what if this same technology could be engaged to ask for donations? On board an aircraft, you have a captive audience, most with time to spare. How about making it such that a passenger could watch my documentary for free, and then at the end, be shown an easy way he/she could take action and support the cause on the spot?

Inspired, I dug around their menus a little deeper and stumbled upon an example that came quite close! Thanks to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson‘s participation in the Stand Up 2 Cancer movement, the entire fundraising show was available for viewing on board for free. And true enough, there was a line in the show description that said that if I wanted to donate to Stand Up 2 Cancer, I could simply navigate to the online store to do so.

Almost perfect! The down side was it was a little challenging to find my way from the entertainment section to the store section, and then to the section where a few non-profit organizations were listed and people could donate to their chosen cause. Because it’s so difficult to keep an audience member engaged, we always want to minimize the number of clicks a person has to make before completing a transaction. I’m looking forward to the day when the technology enables us to make the donation on the spot right at the end of the show/movie.

That said, big kudos to Virgin for making the ability to support great organizations on board your planes available. I haven’t seen the ability to do this anywhere else… yet! And this whole experience makes me wonder… what if we could implement similar technology in other places where people tend to sit for a period of time… like a movie theatre? How would that change the way we raise money and engage audiences? What other innovative methods have you seen in your community? Share your thoughts below!

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Pushing boundaries with Fear Experiment

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Imagine going from zero experience in an art form that scares you, to performing that very art form in front of 750 people at a major concert venue in your city. Fear Experiment is one experience that’s helped over a hundred adults take fear face on over the last few years in Chicago.

Good laughs at improv practice
Good laughs at improv practice

Fear Experiment creator Saya Hillman made the sign-up criteria clear – you sign up solo (so everybody starts off as strangers), and the idea of doing FE has to scare you. You must have had no formal training in dancing, improv, a capella singing, or stepping, and you’ve gotta be ready to be practicing twice a week for 3 months before being thrust on stage. Everybody has to work together and be supportive of each other. It’s kinda like summer camp for adults. One filled with like-minded individuals looking for a challenge.

People sign up for various reasons. Some do it to overcome social anxiety, some do it to be a good example to their kids. ABC7 News featured a stepper who proved just this past Saturday at Fear Experiment 3 that being deaf was no obstacle too big for her. When I signed up to do the improv portion, it was to push myself to speak my mind off the top of my head more. Growing up in a culture where sharing one’s opinion both at home and in school was never encouraged, I found myself struggling to participate in class at Northwestern; constantly over-thinking what I was about to say, afraid to offend or be incoherent.

On stage performing improv at Fear Experiment 2. (Shh... don't tell anyone we were pretending to be the Backstreet Boys.)
On stage performing improv at Fear Experiment 2. (Shh… don’t tell anyone we were pretending to be the Backstreet Boys.)

Learning improv in a fun, cozy environment that wasn’t already filled with people who were really good at it was a huge help. Our improv coach Pete did a great job of helping us all build trust in one another, so we would be better able to let go of our inhibitions and fear of being judged. We also practiced tuning out our inner self-critics (what Seth Godin fans refer to as The Lizard Brain). You know, the one constantly going “you’re not funny enough,” or “you look really ridiculous”. I also laughed hard enough at every practice to build some ab muscles. ;)

All in all, an absolutely fulfilling experience with a wonderful, diverse community and something I’d definitely recommend anyone. Friends don’t let friends get stuck in mundane work-eat-sleep cycles. There’s more to life than that. Go. Do something that scares you!

Here’s a peek at what happened pre and post-Fear Experiment 2:

While applications for Fear Experiment 4 are closed, you can still get on the waitlist here.

[Video Details]
Cinematography by: John Fecile and Jon Vogel
Producing & Editing by: Shuling Yong
Interviews conducted by: Lauren Harper

Coming Full Circle to Victory

A year ago, I had the great privilege of working alongside Rebecca Parrish, doing location sound recording for Jen Gilomen, one of the filmmakers behind Working Films documentary Deep Down when they brought their film’s protagonist Beverly May to Chicago. They were here for an ITVS Community Cinema Screening, but first stopped by Little Village to meet the members of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) to learn about their fight against several toxic industries, including two huge coal power plants that were poisoning the air and the people in those neighborhoods.

LVEJO member Ian took us on a walking tour of his neighborhood, where we got to stand right outside the towering gates of the Fisk plant in Pilsen. The change in the quality of air I was breathing was immediately noticeable. There was no running away from the foul smell of chemicals in the air. As I crinkled my nose and started to fear the effect breathing the air would have on my brain that day, I wondered how the City of Chicago could allow such a toxic-emitting plant to carry on running right where people’s homes are. A 2010 study showed that pollution from the Fisk and Crawford plants alone leads to 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks each year!

Fast forward to today, I found myself back in Pilsen, where the smoke stack of the Fisk plant towered over me once again. A large crowd had gathered in the park across the street carrying signs and chanting continuously. This time, the looks on the faces of Pilsen residents were ones of sheer joy and celebration. Just yesterday, news broke that both coal plants in Chicago will soon shut down.
Plant Closing Celebration

That’s when Greenpeace, one of the organizations that’s been fighting for this for years, called me to help document this historic victory.

Greenpeace blog

Visit their blog to read their recap of the day and watch a clip of Lelia Mendez, a member of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), giving an emotionally-charged speech.

(Thank you Mitch, for passing this opportunity along. It was so great to come full circle.)