VEP and Streaming Software- Knowing all the different products out there and how they work is the first step to running a successful live virtual event. You could spend hours researching all the different virtual event platforms and streaming software and you still might not find the “best” options. Start with the essential functions you need from a virtual event platform then find hyper specific software to customize your streaming. For example-if you would like to stream a high-quality video to a small team and you would like them to all be on the call with a chat function then you would most likely use Zoom and the OBS virtual camera.
As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Madeline Raithel.
Madeline Raithel is a hyphenate corporate communications specialist. Her PR, marketing, and production work for Entire Productions landed them on the BizBash 500 and Inc. 5000 for the third year in a row and garnered them over 95 booked virtual events in six months. She has written for BizBash, Hearst Media, and Zenefits and AllSeated blogs. Madeline is also an experienced public speaker and has hosted and produced virtual events for Entire Productions and the Northern California Chapter of the International Live Events Association.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I was born and raised in California and I am the middle of three girls. I was raised in Paso Robles among the rolling vineyards and sprawling countryside. My family was incredibly supportive of all of my ventures and always thought I would work in Hollywood.
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
I knew when I was a sophomore in high school that I wanted to go to San Francisco State University to study in their Broadcast Electronics & Communications Arts department. I approached the high school journalism teacher with a proposition; I would write, edit, and photograph for the school paper and he would work with me to start a student-run broadcast. By the time I graduated we had gotten the funds to build a complete studio. I only got to use it once but it was enough to get me excited for what was to come. I graduated college after four years while climbing the ranks of my sorority to president and holding multiple jobs. After a stint as an ameteur sommelier, working for the US Reserves, and a year-long video production job hunt, I found myself interviewing for an event coordinator position at Entire Productions. While the CEO, Natasha Miller, didn’t think I would be right for that position, she took a chance on hiring me and essentially mentoring me. With the teams’ event management prowess, and my video production knowledge we have transitioned to virtual events and have found great success.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I made all kinds of mistakes when I first started out, but mistakes will always be made, especially in this new digital sphere. I see room for improvement with every virtual event we execute. Luckily, everyone is very understanding and has a good humor about meme-worthy Zoom fails.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F” by Mark Manson is hugely popular and for good reason. I can come back to this book at any time if I start to lose focus on the important things.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The golden rule! Treat others how you would like to be treated. This was drilled into my head as a child and I haven’t learned anything more important since.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing events in general?
I had very little experience organizing events up until 2020. Other than assisting with events for my sorority and Entire Productions’ annual marketing event that was cancelled on March 8 due to the pandemic.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing live virtual events? Can you share any interesting stories about them?
I have been organizing live virtual events since March. We began with weekly artist live streams via our social media channels, then we were first to market with our virtual event format, EntireVariety. Once a month we produce a free virtual entertainment event featuring our ever expanding capabilities and talent pool. I have also led production on several virtual live concerts. These are my favorites because I got to go to a professional broadcast studio and even co-hosted our holiday concert. Being in the studio makes it so much more exciting and gives you the rush that live events do.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job creating live virtual events? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
Entire Productions has quickly become the leader in virtual events in San Francisco. Our six person team works closely with our clients and audiovisual, catering, and tech partners to create a virtual experience from start to finish. What impresses me the most is our ability to take the reins on any project and seamlessly execute any type of virtual event for any client. Our clients love that they can sit back and relax knowing that we’ve got their event covered from top to bottom.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to run a live virtual event? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The most common mistakes i’ve encountered with people trying to run a live virtual event is trying to just put the same content you had for in-person events on the screen and not incorporating engaging elements. You need to stop thinking of your virtual event as an alternative to in-person. Virtual events are not an option, they are the solution. You now have the ability to reach a wider audience than ever before so it is important to ensure your content is accessible to everyone. Get creative on how to virtually send your message and don’t be afraid to try new things. The same goes for your engagement tools. You might have a sleepy viewer on the opposite side of the world so you need to incorporate exciting elements to keep your audience interested.
Which virtual platform have you found to be most effective to be able to bring everyone together virtually?
Zoom continues to be the most straightforward and effective tool to bring everyone together virtually.
Are there any essential tools or software that you think an event organizer needs to know about?
One tool that individuals can use is OBS. This broadcasting system is great for virtual camera and audio plugins that make streaming high quality video to virtual platforms super efficient.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. An in-person event can have a certain electric energy. How do you create an engaging and memorable event when everyone is separated and in their own homes? What are the “Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- VEP and Streaming Software- Knowing all the different products out there and how they work is the first step to running a successful live virtual event. You could spend hours researching all the different virtual event platforms and streaming software and you still might not find the “best” options. Start with the essential functions you need from a virtual event platform then find hyper specific software to customize your streaming. For example-if you would like to stream a high-quality video to a small team and you would like them to all be on the call with a chat function then you would most likely use Zoom and the OBS virtual camera.
- Engagement Tools- Knowing how to utilize engagement tools is essential to your success. This can come in the form of Q&As, chat functions, polls, games, trivia, a fun host, and so much more. Keeping your audience engaged can be extremely difficult, but it is a make or break for your event. Entire Productions’ method is to segment your content and weave in short form entertainment to your company messaging.
- Thoughtful Giveaways- I’ve heard from all of my corporate friends that they’re missing the vendor and company gifts they used to receive in the past. With many of us feeling the isolation, receiving the right gift goes a long way with leaving a good impression. Our clients’ attendees were blown away by the custom engraved wood cutting boards we sent with all the cooking ingredients for a virtual event.
- Marketing- Virtual events require the same level of strategy and planning as their live counterparts. Your email and social media are the most effective way to market your virtual event. We will sometimes wait until the week of the event to start pushing it out via our channels and we can literally watch the registration numbers shoot up.
- Goals & Content- Before you do any of this, take the time to write out your goals. This will help influence what type of content you decide to put out there. Ask yourself what problem your clients or attendees are having, what you can do to help them, and how to reach them.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a live virtual event that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
My first steps that I would recommend are to ask a professional for help. You can spend all of your time researching, learning, and hours of trial and error just to miss the mark, or you could seek out an event management company like Entire Productions that gets it right every time.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Mental health, homelessness, and climate justice are some of my most important issues. I would love to start a collective or foundation that works to help combat these issues in the Bay Area. These are all extremely complex issues so I would love to hear any ideas!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Growing up I could never decide if I wanted to be a writer or an actress or a singer or a TV show host or a fashion designer so Rihanna is the one person I would love to get brunch with. I would love to pick her entrepreneurial brian and just have a good laugh with her over some fabulous food.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.