The Importance of Rehearsing for your Livestream Fundraising Events
Our Clients often ask us, “Do we really need that much rehearsal time?”
And the truth is, If you want your event to go smoothly, then ABSOLUTELY.
As nonprofits begin to move their fundraising events to the digital world, the fundamental process of planning and preparing for your event does not change.
Event planners are looking to make their virtual events more creative and entertaining. Many are looking to move away from Zoom events - citing Zoom fatigue as one of the main motivations. Our custom platform functions as a virtual venue rather than a conferencing platform. This means that you will be broadcasting your event or show to many people in the audience who are simply sitting back and viewing that stream. Essentially, you are performing on a virtual stage to a virtual audience.
As you already know, performances require some level of rehearsal and preparation if you want things to go well. Even with in-person galas, the host will rehearse and prepare, speakers will practice their speeches, live performers will fine tune their instruments, the A/V team will do tech checks and make sure equipment is working properly. The event venue will make sure that everything is clean, well prepped, and considered for guests.
However, one key difference between the virtual world and the real world, is that while real world events can be coordinated separately by teams from different departments, a virtual event requires deeper collaboration. Because of the nature of live internet broadcast, your entire team must act as one to prevent hiccups. Rehearsals aren’t just about getting the script and live performance aspects right. The technological workflow and audience engagement plan must be ironed out ahead of time to create a successful event. Participating in rehearsals are necessary for almost everyone involved.
At a very basic level, you want to avoid technical issues (such as internet connectivity issues and delays) as much as possible, and rehearsing your event will allow your team to troubleshoot issues far ahead of showtime, so that your actual event can begin on time and run error-free. The biggest downfall of any virtual event is a buggy show. Starting late due to technical issues or distorted, choppy video display can make your viewers tune out and leave them feeling frustrated and uninterested in engagement. But the better prepared you are, the smoother your audience's experience will be, allowing them to enjoy the show and leading to positive engagement, reviews, and feedback.
Rehearsals are also crucial as they give you a good preview of your events and give you the time to adjust aspects of your plan that arent working as intended. For example, you may realize that a joke isn't landing as it should be. Or that the lineup of your performances is not giving enough priority to key individuals in your organization, therefore the schedule needs to be rearranged. Or that the host's microphone is staticy and needs to be replaced.
Here are a breakdown of the key areas for which rehearsals are critical:
Getting comfortable with the technology and workflow.
Making sure everyone involved on the day of the event understands the technology they’ll be interacting with is crucial. Virtual events are all about the technology, and the more technology that is involved, the more fault points there are in your plan.
- Production team needs to make sure they’re able to connect with live performers and that all assets are setup correctly and work as intended
- MC’s and live guests need to understand how to connect and communicate through live broadcast technology that the production team is using
- Client’s team and organization staff need to know how to access the event, engage with guests, moderate chat, and handle donations.
Doing rehearsals helps everyone get familiar with the technologies involved so that the team is not scrambling to understand the basics on the day of the actual event. Once you’re live, it’s really hard and distracting to try and deal with errors and perform technical troubleshooting all in front of your audience. Technical issues can lead to a lot of audience dropoff and no one wants that.
Getting comfortable with performing live
We always recommend having at least one live person involved, usually a host.
On every first rehearsal we’ve done, we’ve found areas where a live host or live speaker could improve tone and energy. Giving a solid performance is very important if you want to keep your audience engaged. Doing at least a couple of rehearsals and getting comfortable in your role and performance stage goes a long way in helping execute a successful performance on the night of.
We recently had a client who wasn’t sure if their pro-bono host would want to do that many rehearsals, but in reality the host was very happy and relieved that we were doing multiple rehearsals so we could get things right. Everyone wants to look their best on stage, and a virtual stage is no different!
Communicating the right information
One of the key things we’ve noticed during rehearsal sessions is that our clients will often find that scripts they’ve written for the host or other live participants were missing some key information, or that aspects of their scripts lack clarity or focus.
A live reading reveals nuances that aren't apparent on the page, and in our experience, clients will usually update their scripts after rehearsal.
Often times, written scripts also tend to fall flat when performed. Because our team includes an award winning video director and experienced producers, we can guide our clients through the writing process to make sure their scripts work for a live performance.
Nailing down workflow with the production team
When we produce events for our clients, someone from our team controls all aspects of the live stream. We’re responsible for changing scenes, layouts, transitioning from one speaker to another, or one video to another, and making sure we’re staying on schedule. It’s the same as a live TV broadcast.
On the event day, our team will have a technical director and a program director on our live streaming system who will be interacting with anyone who performs live, such as the host or special guests.
Rehearsals help the technical crew and the live participants get a feel for the run of show and work out a game plan for how we effectively communicate with each other behind the scenes. This helps prevent any confusion on the night of the event.
There have also been several instances where the live host’s script did not give the technical director enough time to load in transitions or switch sequences during the show, so adjustments needed to be made to prevent gaps and awkward delays.
“Practice makes perfect” is an age old saying. Even if you are doing a simple Zoom event, you will at least want to have an agenda prepared and make sure you understand the technology well so your event goes smoothly.
So, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. It’ll only help you host a more successful event!
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