The alternative to live captioning is using an AI software to automatically transcribe all speech-to-text. Again, AI tech can generate a transcription into the original language, or a translation into other languages. AI Speech-to-Text Software is advancing all the time and can be an ideal option for making translations available into all languages with a widget plug for attendees to choose from.
However, live captioning is recommended for single translations (eg. English speech to English text, English speech to Spanish text). The final result will be a more accurate and smooth speech-to-text experience for virtual attendees.
Including captions to any video content, including a live broadcast, is always an advantage. Captions and subtitles are now common practice on social media, and is a simple step towards accessibility. As a society we are accustomed to and almost expect the option for captions on our content.
Ideally we assume attendees are watching and listening to a broadcast in a quiet space, with headphones and no distractions. However, a part of the appeal and advantages of events in the digital space, is that attendees can attend from wherever they find themselves at that time. For example, on public transport, or with their children running around, or outside in a park ect. Having captions will significantly allow attendees to stay engaged with the event program in the circumstances that they are unable to fully hear the audio.
As an alternative to an ASL interpreter, having live captions is a necessary and welcome addition for any attendees who are hearing imparied. Find a blog dedicated to adding an ASL interpreter to a virtual event here.
If the livestream is only being shown in Zoom, anyone who has experience typing speech-to-text should work. However, if the livestream captions are intended to be shown on an external website or inside the Vimeo / YouTube player live, then the captioner also needs special equipment.
Typing fast is hard work and to improve work conditions as well as quality of output, we should let the captioners switch off every 30 minutes. In this case, always hire two people instead of just one. The only exception to this might be in a one hour meeting.
It’s really important to let speakers know that there will be captioning and a script will be helpful to the captioners. No script? At minimum, share the run of show with the correct spelling of speaker names.
Conduct a tech rehearsal just with the captioners to test that you can get their captions into the player and/or website. Zoom is very easy. Broadcast is not and requires specific captioning equipment from the captioner.
We live in a digital world where everything can be done online. Virtual events are not just a product of the pandemic; they have their place and can be really advantageous to any organization. You can read more about when and why virtual events are awesome here, and you can check out some of the virtual events produced by Happily here.
There is no need to create an entire microsite just for a straightforward event, if you already have an established website. By placing the stream on your website, it makes it much more of a branded experience. Use Vimeo or YouTube as your broadcast platform to easily generate some embedding code to add to a page on your website.
By dedicating a whole page to the event, you can create more of a branded experience for your audience, with your org’s graphic line. It will allow you to have a single place to direct your audience, as well as any accompanying information and links right at their fingertips.
The most important element of a virtual event is to keep your audience engaged. By giving some thought to the layout and the flow of your event, it will allow you to find ways to keep the momentum going. We recommend taking your audience on a ‘journey’ with an introduction, middle and a conclusion.
Think about it as a talk show, with lots of “coming up soon”, “stay tuned because next up we have…” or “we have so much exciting stuff for you tonight…”. This is also where we strongly suggest a written script to accompany your storyboard. It is not meant to be a script that you stick to word-for-word, but rather a way to stagger information and ensure that you are using language that will keep your audience engaged.
If you have a Zoom Business account that you are using for your event, you can take advantage of Zoom’s Immersive View. With it you will be able to place a custom banner as a background, creating a more branded experience.
We have all the info you need on how to do this over here.
In the days before the event, have a full read-through with all the staff, behind-the-scenes people, and any guest speakers. This will ensure that any hiccups in the program are caught, that any wrinkles can be ironed out, and so everyone knows what to expect when the event comes around. It will allow the end result to feel more polished and professional.
By using a platform like Canva you will have all the resources you need to easily create polished and chic designs for social media, presentation slides, banners ect. that you need for your event. There is a paid version that you can upgrade your Canva account to, however, the free version will certainly give you what you need as well.
The production quality of any virtual event will improve 1000% if the speaker is looking their best on the screen. We are talking about amazing lighting, a well composed background, clear audio, strong internet and a high quality camera.
Some of these things you might want to invest a little money in, however, there are also free things you can do. We have a whole separate post on this, that you can read here.
Please personalize and adapt them in whatever way you need to suit your event.
This is an ideal icebreaker for attendees to get to know each other a little better.
In this game, the host crafts a number of questions to ask attendees along the loose idea of ‘where they are from?’. For example 'Are you from a musically talented family?'
If the answer applies to them, they’ll keep their camera on and if it doesn’t, they’ll turn their camera off. The questions can be topical and used as starting points for conversation (eg. 'Are you coming from attending a protest this week?'), or they can be light and fun (eg. 'Are you from a multilingual family?').
Ideal for work meetings for existing and new team members to get to know each other a little. Or a casual gathering with cocktails in hand.
GIF from our 'Happily Hour with Jensen McRae'
This performance game is stepping things up a level.
Teams break out into groups with an even number of people, whatever works for your event. They’ll have time to select a song and practice their performance to present to the whole group.
Ideal for themed parties, or high-energy gatherings.
GIF from HUMAN's (formerly White Ops) I Wanna Dance with Zoom-body.
This is a modern spin on a timeless game.
It is played in the style of Pictionary where the host privately sends an emoji to a contestant, and then they have to ‘act out’ that emoji for all the others to guess. People then send the emoji that they think it is in the chat. The person who guesses correctly, is the next contestant.
Ideal for a quick icebreaker at a work meeting, in breakout rooms or a workshop.
A party game based on the idea that what we drink can say something about our personality.
How it works is that guests privately message the host to tell them what they're drinking that evening. Guests can be as specific as they like. The host reads out the drink and asks the audience ‘whose drink is that?’
Ideal for social gatherings in a setting where alcoholic drinking is acceptable.
This is a trivia game that is based on quotes from famous philosophers, activists, world leaders, or whatever makes sense for your event.
It is played in the style of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ where if they get the question right, they can choose to carry on, or to take the prize and tap out. Contestants can win cash or gift cards or whatever prize you’d like to offer, with increasing value for consecutive correct answers.
Ideal for themed parties, or a lighthearted social get together.
This is a virtual spin on a classic linguistic game.
The original Mad Libs books are short stories with many keywords left blank. Beneath each blank is a specified category such as a noun, verb, place, celebrity, exclamation or a part of the body. You can either make up your own base Mad Libs short story or get your hands on an original book. Writing your own is an opportunity to personalize the game for your workplace, your audience or the theme of the virtual event. Also, an alternative is just Mad Libs sentences, instead of a full story.
Depending on how many attendees you have, they can either be broken up into rooms or kept all together. Then, without revealing the context for that word, the host asks the others to contribute a word as indicated with the category (eg. a noun, a place...) The host notes them down and finally, the completed story is read aloud. (Pro tip, make sure there are enough blank words with at least one for each attendee.) The result is usually a comical story or sentence that takes on a nonsensical tone.
Ideal for an icebreaker at smaller, social gatherings.
Whether you are in a business meeting, speaking at a virtual event, or just having a social chat, leveling up your digital presence in Zoom is always a power move.
A fast internet connection for high video quality is essential. To check your speed visit www.speedtest.net and run the test. It will give you two metrics; your download and your upload speed, in that order. In this case, what you need to focus on is your upload speed. 5Mbps is the absolute minimum for a video stream, and of course, the higher your upload speed the better.
We would argue that a smooth audio stream is the most important on a Zoom call, so if your internet upload is below 5Mbps (as mentioned above) just disable your video and keep all that upload for the audio.
1. Control your environment and make sure that you are signing into a Zoom call in the most quiet space possible.
2. Buy an external usb microphone to dramatically improve your sound quality. There will be a mic out there for all budgets, and even a basic one for as little as $30USD will be a huge improvement. If you are looking to level up your digital presence, we recommend an external mic as the first step.
In this era of selfies, we have all come to understand the importance of ‘good lighting’ and how it can change how we look through the camera lens. If you are not looking to upgrade to an external camera, as we will come to below, by giving some attention to how you are lit you are sure to see some good results.
1. Natural lighting is always useful and a wonderful source, just as long as it is actually lighting you (the subject). This may mean you will have to move your desk or space so the window is in front of you and natural light is falling on you. If you are trying to light yourself with just natural lighting, don’t put the source behind you.
2. Use external key lighting to light your face. We know that ‘ring lights’ have become popular, but we recommend just any desk lamp or standing lamp that will provide a diffused, even light source across your face. You will have to experiment with the position of the lamp, but at an angle, above and slightly to the side is always a good start. You don’t want any dramatic or unflattering shadows across your face.
3. Use external accent lighting to light your background. This is an extra if you really want to get serious about how you look on Zoom. Using a smaller or softer light to illuminate your background will provide depth, create a warmer environment, eliminate any harsh contrast between the foreground and the background, and really allow your face to shine.
If you are not looking to buy an external camera, it is worth checking your Zoom and computer settings to ensure that your in-built computer camera is working at the best to its ability.
1. Check the camera settings on computer / laptop, and depending on what you have you may be able to adjust the quality
2. In Zoom follow zoom.us > Preferences > Video and make sure that the HD is ticked, and you can also use the ‘Touch up my appearance’ function, as well as the ‘Adjust for low light’
3. The ultimate upgrade is using an external camera or webcam. Zoom makes it really easy to change the ‘video source’ at any time. Just like with the microphones, there is a range of price points that you can find for external cameras, and in the end, even the cheaper ones will make a huge difference compared to your in-built computer camera. If you really want to upgrade your digital presence like an absolute pro, in the tutorial above, Sarah Shewey, our Founder and CEO, details the exact products, camera and whole set up that she uses everyday, all day for Zoom.
We have all the basics you need to start using this view for all your Zoom related activity. Plus, we have some inspiration for how it can be used as a quick and easy way to add some pizzazz to a virtual event.
It is a large global virtual background that allows the host to gather multiple participants together into the one screen or ‘scene’ as Zoom calls it. At the same time it erases the background of each participant in the Immersive View.
The Immersive View is only available to those with the latest version 5.6.4 (765).
Please Note: Participants who have an older version will not be able to experience the Immersive View when it is enabled. Instead unsupported participants will see the Gallery View or Speaker View as usual, and those with the update in the meeting will view these unsupported participants in the Immersive View scene with their original, solid backgrounds.
Like most other features on Zoom, only the host can enable the Immersive View in a meeting. The co-host and other participants will not even see the option on their screen under ‘View’.
If you’ve got the latest Zoom update and you are the host of the meeting, simply click ‘View > Immersive View’ and a new window should open up.
From here you can browse a collection of scenes to be ‘immersed’ into. Each scene will have a maximum number of people that it can accomodate, which is indicated by a little number in the bottom right hand corner of each thumbnail. The maximum that an Immersive View can hold is 25 participants.
Please Note: All other participants who you did not select to be in the Immersive View, or if there are more than 25 attendees, will be placed in their usual little boxes above the Immersive View. And by the way, this does not mean they are automatically muted.
You can place participants in view automatically or manually. Clicking ‘manually’ will allow you to elect which participants you want to immerse, which is ideal for keynote speakers and panel discussions.
There are currently 8 scenes to choose from, plus the host’s own video stream. They include an ‘art gallery’ (5 seats), an ‘auditorium’ (25 seats), a ‘boardroom’ (6 seats), a ‘fireside chat’ (2 seats), a ‘cafe’ (2 seats), a ‘classroom’ (25 seats), a ‘kitchen’ (2 seats) and ‘learning pods’ (25 seats).
You can add your own custom background image to use and in this view you can move participants around and resize them, which is perfect to create a custom branded space. Please Note: You can only add custom images, so you will need to use OBS for video.
Image: The 'Fireside Chat' Immersive View
As the host, you can not be visible in the Immersive View and run your OBS at the same time. This is only an issue for video and if you want to be seen. If you add a custom image to the Immersive View without OBS as mentioned above, you will not have this issue.
No, not within Zoom. When you record a meeting in the Zoom system the Immersive View will not appear, instead it will be recorded in Gallery or Speaker. The view that is recorded will depend on your recording settings, or the view that was used before starting the Immersive View. If you really want to capture the Immersive View in a recording, the way around this is by using a screen recording program, like Quicktime.
As host, you can easily revert back to Speaker or Gallery View, or change the Immersion View scene, at any time without disruption.
It is currently not available in Breakout Rooms.
For best results, participants should have a plain background with a solid color; a basic green screen would be ideal.
For even better results, participants should have their camera far enough from their body that it does not cut off any parts eg. shoulders, top of their head, gesturing hand movements.
GIF: Star Wars watch party using OBS and the Immersive View
You can have all the keynotes speakers (or perhaps a special guest and an interviewer) in the one screen to simulate a ‘main stage’ format, in which the rest of the participants (the audience) are focused.
There are now even more opportunities to add custom branding graphics to Zoom, meaning a touch of personalization, such as brand colors or logos, are streamlined for hosts.
Imagine participants dropping into a customised digital space with a fully branded backdrop for a fun and quirky photo op with others, or by themselves.
You can have the reaction to a video or movie of participants right there on the same screen and more integrated than ever. (Although, remember we mentioned you will need OBS for this.)
As there is now more interaction with participants - you can move them around, drop them into scenes and resize them, for example - there is plenty of opportunity to have some fun and create a dynamic experience.