Apple may be one of the most well-known technology companies in the world, but that doesn’t mean the Silicon Valley giant is immune to technical glitches. In efforts to live stream the recent announcement of the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, the company ran into some big issues. From a frozen video feed to frustrated viewers who could only access the feed via Safari to a Mandarin Chinese translation playing in the background, the stream, by all accounts, failed.
Plenty of publications have dedicated coverage to critiquing Apple’s approach to the event, but Donny Neufuss, Senior Account Manager, Mediasite Event Services, Sonic Foundry, says listing the problems of the event will do little to help anyone understand how to design and produce better virtual meetings.
“A lot of people want to bash Apple and focus on what went wrong,” Neufuss says. “I don’t think that’s what we should take away from it. Instead, we should look at the mishaps as an opportunity to focus on how to execute a virtual event the right way.”
With Apple’s product launch in the rearview, here are three key takeaways meeting planners can apply to their own virtual events.
1) More doesn’t mean better.
The issues with Apple’s live stream can partially be attributed to the belief that more equals better, and that attitude is certainly not exclusive to Apple. As technology offerings continue to advance, plenty of meeting planners are anxious to incorporate what’s new and what’s next at their own meetings and conferences.
Shortly after Apple’s product launch, Neufuss received a request to help with live streaming the launch of the new Blackberry product. As the launch date neared, Neufuss says the creative agency involved in the work wanted to experiment with more features. In fact, just one day before the launch, the creative team asked to add online registration to the page. Neufuss advised against the addition and explained that last-minute adjustments can easily lead to big problems.
“It’s easy to get caught up in technology,” Neufuss says. “Vendors offer loads of additional features, and there are so many exciting directions you can go with these new tools. However, you can’t let technology get in the way of the message you’re trying to get across to virtual attendees.”
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2) Remember what really matters.
So if your attendees don’t care about all the bells and whistles of an interactive feed, what do they actually want?
“You have to appreciate the basics,” Neufuss says. “At the end of the day, the speaker and the content are what really matter. That’s what your attendees really care about.”
However, that doesn’t mean virtual attendees want to hear every speaker on the program.
“Some customers call and ask to live stream all of their breakout rooms,” Neufuss says. “I always ask them to backpedal and think about which sessions will be the most popular. I don’t want them to sink a ton of money into something that attendees won’t be watching.”
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3) Rethink the way you look at your costs.
Let’s face it: Apple has plenty of money to invest in technology. However, the majority of meeting professionals can agree that budget is the number one concern on their minds.
“In the meetings and events industry, many people associate technology with money,” Neufuss says. “The first question is always, ‘how much is it going to cost to live stream my event?’”
“The real question is how much will it cost you if you don’t do it,” Nefuss adds. “This isn’t a cost. It’s an investment that can pay off with a bigger audience.”
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The Future Looks Very Virtual
While Apple’s live streaming troubles underscored the potential challenges of virtual events, meeting planners must look past those potential hurdles. Why? The next generation of attendees will not simply see a virtual offering as an add-on benefit. Neufuss says a large portion of Sonic Foundry’s business is capturing full seminars at colleges and universities where students increasingly rely on virtual education.
“All of these students will be joining the workforce soon,” Neufuss says. “When they do, they will expect to be able to watch content on any device anywhere in the world. The meetings industry will need to be able to meet that expectation.”