What We Learned from Proper-Distanced Events – Part 4 of 5

This is the fourth of five parts on setting up proper-distanced events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or proper-distanced event. Our blog as well as our proper-distanced house concerts with rental of recordings are wonderful sources of information and entertainment.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Distancing & Spacing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Sanitation & Other Safety Measures – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Test Runs & Early Set-Ups – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Relief to Potential Audience – TODAY
  • Part 5 – Audience Isolation Behaviors

Everything is new now. Routines, safety measures, everything. So our job is to give relief to our potential audience members.

Fear comes from the unknown. Thus, you need to make anything you can think of to be “known.”

Now in Part 3, we focused on Test Runs so that things are “known” to you before the performance. It is only fair for this knowledge to extend to the general public. You will want to take pictures and video galore and see what can be done with some video editing.

You could hire a videographer. Though, we like to get a videographer for the day of the event and use our own filming from our cell phones and compile it into an “what to expect” piece. Ours tend to be 2-3 minutes long, which feels not too short and not too long. We like to combine it with a invite/reflection from our featured teller(s).

See below an example from the past-

Having a visual of the place before arriving helps in this time of proper-distancing and masks.

You need to be clear on any and all advertising–video, fliers, emails, etc.–on what you expect about masks.

Some organizations or individuals are more relaxed with masks when it is outdoors. For Story Crossroads, we prefer to be strict and actually enforce the rules we put in place. We require masks. Period. People will have differing opinions. Though once they step onto our “land” – such as a host for a house concert or a park for a festival – then our rules are in place.

Your audience needs to know how strict you will be. Never assume.

You will notice that our video reveals some details though we save some of those details for the bullet-point listing on our webpage. We also include those details in the registration and reminder emails to registrants. There is no such thing as over-communicating when it comes to safety.

Details that Audience will want to know before arriving:

  • Set-up of the Location
  • Rules you have about Masks
  • Any other sanitization measures such as having hand sanitizer around
  • What to do about the facilities and expectations
  • Your feelings about “sitting by household” – especially if from same family but not the same household
  • Any recording option in case cannot attend OR if more comfortable staying home yet supporting the event

Free Video Editing or Design (or what we use):

We will share more in Part 5 on audience isolation behaviors and how to still have wonderful reactions for the performers. We will share some interesting moments during and after the proper-distanced events.

You can make this live event happen. Think with logic and love. Enjoy the energy from a proper-distanced event.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Join us for our proper-distanced house concerts such as with Katherine and David Hurley featuring Karl Behling in Murray, UT on December 28, 2020…or get the recording afterwards.

The Checklist: How to Set up Virtual Events – Part 5 of 5

This is the fifth of five parts on setting up online events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or virtual event. Our blog as well as our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series are wonderful professional development resources.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Event Type, Audience, Timing & Pricing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Choosing the Right Platform & Registration – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Rapports & Introductions – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Test Runs, Sound Checks & Logistics – REVEALED
  • Part 5 – Feedback Forms and Follow-Ups – TODAY

You’re done, right? The event is done…or is it?

Take the opportunity to learn, grow, and improve. Most likely, this event is one of many you will do.

Besides finding out what people loved best, you can notice what is NOT mentioned. This is as much of an eye-opener as anything else.

No matter if live or virtual, we have always involved feedback forms. Though, we always had these forms as hard copies with two other options – Large Print and Spanish. This was the first year we did all the feedback forms through online means.

Even when virtual events are free, having a type of registration and/or a “plan on virtually attending” form allows for an email to ask a couple questions.

However, we prefer to use Google Forms.

Here are common questions on ours…please adapt as you wish or use the wording exactly. As long as this is helpful, we are happy.

  • Basics – Name, Position/Role (teacher, parent, storyteller, etc.), city/country, Zipcode
  • Email – if do not already have from registration (helpful if people decide to be part of Story Crossroads E-Newsletter, email lists, etc.)
  • How did you enjoy _____________________ (performance/workshop/presentation)? What did you like best? Find interesting?
  • Did ________________________ (performance/workshop/presentation) meet your expectations? Why or why not?
  • What action(s) will you now take with ________________ (storytelling/writing/acting/singing, etc.) as a result of experiencing ____________________ (performance/workshop/presentation)?
  • Does Story Crossroads have permission to quote your comments on publications, fan page, websites, etc.?
  • Would you like to be added to any of our email lists and/or volunteer for Story Crossroads in some way? (list out the options – people can fill out as many as wished – only ask if not part of registration)
  • How did you learn about this virtual opportunity? (ask if not part of registration)
  • Do you have questions or comments?

We find that feedback forms that are any longer…have a harder time for completed ones to be submitted.

Sometimes, all you want is a simple 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 rating sent in an email. No Google Forms. Nothing complicated. Yet, this is so much more than what most people do. We noticed this approach for “History in Person: A Virtual Chautauqua Festival.”

While having many sessions, the St. Louis Storytelling Festival gave a link to a Google Form after each session. They posted it at the beginning of the livestream and then at the end.

We recommend posting at least five times per session:

  • Beginning, close or part of the welcoming message
  • Three times in the middle – spaced between real-time comments from other participants
  • End, close or part of the thank you/come again/upcoming events after this message

Once you have responses to the feedback forms, actually add people to your E-newsletters, email lists, or reach out if they wish to volunteer within a day or two.

For those who do not respond–or as a general email to all your registrants–you can send a “last chance/farewell” that you will no longer email them unless they chose to be part of your lists.

Who knows? Those people could be lifetime fans, tell their friends and family, and more lifetime fans cheer on what you are doing.

All because you realized that the end is not the end. Only a beginning.

You can make this virtual. You can realize your dreams for it.

Our next 5-part blog series will be “What We Learned About Proper-Distanced Events” on rephasing into live performance with safety measures.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Participate or present as part of the All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series that kicks off Monday, September 7, 2020 with Simon Brooks.

The Checklist: How to Set up Virtual Events – Part 4 of 5

This is the fourth of five parts on setting up online events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or virtual event. Our blog as well as our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series are wonderful professional development resources.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Event Type, Audience, Timing & Pricing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Choosing the Right Platform & Registration – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Rapports & Introductions – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Test Runs, Sound Checks & Logistics – TODAY
  • Part 5 – Feedback Forms and Follow-Ups

Test Runs are different than Sound Checks. And do you get headaches with Logistics? Discover what we learned.

The timing and length of time dedicated is the biggest difference between Test Runs and Sound Checks.

The “Run” part of Test Run means you could “run” to the store (or online ordering) in case something needs to be ordered to make everything smoother.

The “Check” part of Sound Check means you are checkmarking that things are still smooth since that Test Run and happens the day of the virtual event itself.

Having Successful Test Run(s):

  • Schedule Test Run a month before the actual virtual event…though can “squeeze” one in within one week before actual event, but then you can run into trouble if someone needs to purchase better equipment/lighting as a result
  • Allow for the Test Run to take about 30 minutes while people want it to be a rehearsal and be the same length of the virtual event – and thus you would moving away from a “Test Run” and into the “Rehearsal” realm
  • Doing early Test Run makes it possible to have a 2nd Test Run if things do more “interesting” than you expected
  • Invite all presenters and co-hosts/emcees involved and give clear instructions and plenty of reminders
  • Have all presenters listed in your phone so you can text in case anyone forgot or miscalculated for the time zone
  • Of the 30-minute or so Test Run, take about 15 minutes to check and play around with lighting/sound/positioning while the last 15 minutes could be to live-stream (whether or not this is what you plan to do for the virtual event) that acts as a test AND a type of promo/anticipation for the event
  • People who are NOT part of the Test Run can still participated and be scheduled to watch for any live-streaming of test runs – have these people give comments within the feed of the virtual event AND send you group text for anyone else assigned to be “watching”
  • Always connect to the Ethernet/modem and NOT wi-fi
  • Not all Ethernet cables are equal – they have “categories” with number 6 being the best for the time being for fastest ability plus you can even get 100′ cable so you can set up in the room that you wish with your laptop

Thanks to storyteller Donna Washington, I learned about this 5 1/2 -minute video that visually shows you what you need to do for Test Runs. I agree with it all except for always worrying about centering on the screen. Sometimes it is smart to be on the side depending on your needs. AND…the best 90-minute version of the know-how is through Simon Brooks and his workshop “Breaking Boundaries of the Screen: Presenting On-line” on Monday, September 7, 2020 from 9-10:30am MDT that is part of our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series.

Having Successful Sound Check:

  • Schedule your Sound Check at least 30 minutes before the virtual event
  • All presenter(s) and hosts/co-hosts/emcees need to be part of this Sound Check
  • Make sure sound/lighting/positioning work even though checked during your Test Run(s)
  • Keep the length to 15 minutes so you can allow early people to jump on early and open it up to mingling

Logistics Before and During:

  • Create/update/receive any paperwork with presenter(s) such as – contract, digital release (live-streaming and/or recording and/or picture taking/screen-shots) – see templates you can adapt at the Story Producer Resources page
  • Assign 2-4 hosts/co-hosts to divide the following roles – emceeing, admitting people into the virtual space (if applicable), watching real-time comments and/or chat within the virtual space, sharing screens
  • Develop “scenes” to share within the virtual space such as listing of funders, volunteers, upcoming events – can be video or picture files – can create using Canva (free and paid versions) – you can see examples of what we did for “The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities” (live) versus what we had for scenes for “Story Crossroads Spectacular: Youth & Community Tellers” (pre-recorded)
  • Give updates as people register to your volunteers/Board as well as to the presenter(s) – this motivates people to continue to promote the event – registrations always go up when you keep track as a team
  • Receive any handout(s) as well as any slide shows–if being used–at least a couple days before the event – offer to double-check for any typos so there is time to fix

Continue with us to Part 5 for the Logistics after the event in “Feedback Forms & Follow-Ups.”

You can make this virtual. You can realize your dreams for it.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Participate or present as part of the All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series that kicks off Monday, September 7, 2020 with Simon Brooks.

The Checklist: How to Set up Virtual Events – Part 3 of 5

This is the third of five parts on setting up online events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or virtual event. Our blog as well as our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series are wonderful professional development resources.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Event Type, Audience, Timing & Pricing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Choosing the Right Platform & Registration – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Rapports & Introductions – TODAY
  • Part 4 – Test Runs, Sound Checks & Logistics
  • Part 5 – Feedback Forms and Follow-Ups

Once registration is under way, what details will your attendees need?Potential participants?

People want a confirmation of registration right away.

For our first virtual workshops, we asked for proof of payment. This was doing the opposite of what we discovered would be better for the future.

An automatic email is sent whenever people pay online whether done through Square, Wild Apricot, or any number of registration systems. Had we paused and thought about that, we would not need to add another step such as “proof of payment.”

In the beginning, we also chose to confirm and send out our first email to registrants a couple days before the event. This made some people nervous who registered a month or more before. Automated emails are better unless you plan on checking and sending manual emails each day.

The following is the most important information in the form of 1-3 emails to registrants (3 emails is best -day of payment, day before, day-of an hour before):

  • Registration confirmation (same day of payment)
  • Repeat of date/time/title of virtual event WITH time zone as well as ability to convert time zones (explained in Part 1, )
  • Any link(s) and passcode(s) needed to access the virtual event OR web addresses to find event if live-streamed (recommend same day of payment and repeated for reminder email day before as well as day-of event)
  • Any training, if any, for attendees to watch before event (such as our 5-minute Zoom Basics training)
  • Indication if there will be mingling/early entry before as well as after the virtual event
  • Easy contact of the host – telephone to call/text as well as email checked every day

Consider these optional add-ons to your emails to registrants:

  • Any special line or two from the presenter(s) as a welcome message (different than message from the host/you)
  • Reminder of any extra benefits to those who paid suggested price or higher such as access to video/audio from event
  • Pdf handout if virtual workshop or educational in any way (perhaps better to send after the event rather than before)
  • Any other message(s) from the organization of other upcoming events
  • Whatever you wish…though the longer the messages get, the less likely to be read completely

With your registrants cared for, then think about who has yet to sign up for your event.

Here is a “to do” list that can be as long or as short as you feel necessary:

  1. Add to your website
    • Dedicate events page that is easy to find
    • Include countdown on the homepage either as a widget or through plug-ins (hint of plug-ins that work for WordPress websites or search online for plug-ins available to whatever company hosts your website)
  2. Create and execute countdown plan for social media/emails/texts/calls
    • Countdown can mean a post every day once you reach a month away or at least a one-week countdown
    • Popular use of countdown is spotlighting the skills of the presenter(s)
    • Typical phrases are “3 days before…” or “last chance”
    • You can have help in scheduling these posts ahead of time and peruse “15 Of the Best Social Media Posting and Scheduling Tools” by Influencer MarketingHub
  3. List event on online calendars – local, national, international
  4. Discover other ways to spread the word such as “30 Creative Event Promotion Ideas to Increase Attendance” on the Eventbrite Blog
  5. Develop and send out press releases
    • Live and virtual events need press releases – does your website have an easy “Press Kit” page seen from the home page?
    • Create 1-page or shorter press release in Word or similar software that is easy to copy and past as well as tailor for the different TV, radio, blog, magazine, newspaper, podcast contacts
    • Include most important details at top
      • Date(s) of Event
      • “Media Advisory” and “For Immediate Release”
      • Contact Name, Telephone/Email
    • Include more details below
      • Eye-catching yet informative title
      • County/State/Country followed by no more than 2-4 paragraphs
      • At-a-glance listing of – What, When, Where, Cost, Audience, For more info (website)
      • Any funders/grants given to make the event possible
    • Never send out press releases on Mondays or Fridays…but better to send out than not at all; Tuesdays-Thursdays are best from 9am-Noon of the media’s time zone
    • Feel free to send out press releases for different events once a month to keep rapport and familiarity with the media

Time will fly by.

We never accomplish all we intended to do to promote an event. Still, we are happy with what we can do.

Give yourself permission to NOT get everything done that you had wished to do. Celebrate from the small to the big items you check off your lists.

Continue with us with Part 4 to “Test Runs, Sound Checks & Logistics” for those important actions that make a difference before show time.

You can make this virtual. You can realize your dreams for it.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Participate or present as part of the All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series that kicks off Monday, September 7, 2020 with Simon Brooks.

The Checklist: How to Set up Virtual Events – Part 2 of 5

This is the second of five parts on setting up online events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or virtual event. Our blog as well as our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series are wonderful professional development resources.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Event Type, Audience, Timing & Pricing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Choosing the Right Platform & Registration – TODAY
  • Part 3 – Rapports & Introductions
  • Part 4 – Test Runs, Sound Checks & Logistics
  • Part 5 – Feedback Forms and Follow-Ups

So many platforms, so little time. Well, dedicate a little time at least as this determines how smooth everything else will go.

Zoom is obviously a “big one” and what most people are familiar with in the world. I will warn you now…I am a fan of Zoom, even before this historic time. Though, Zoom does has its limitations and is not the answer for all that we do online.

While more and more platforms surface, we will look at the following:

  • Zoom – paid plans can handle 100 (Zoom Pro) to 10,000 attendees (Zoom Webinar with add-ons)
  • Cisco Webex – video conferencing and online meetings
  • BigMarker – browser based online platform for learning and sharing through web conferences and webinars
  • Social Livestreams – YouTube Livestream, Facebook Live, Twitter/Periscope Live, Instagram Live, Twitch – ability to have comments from attendees in real-time
  • Mandolin – created with musicians in mind though applicable for any performing arts, links in with Patreon, attendees will need free Patreon account to access
  • 6connex – virtual trade shows
  • Brella – specializes in virtual conferences
  • HeySummit – landing page able to be built, virtual events – but must merge livestreaming, if interested
  • Hop In – events, webinars, broadcasts, networking – contains many options
  • Run the World – has built-in templates, works for discussions and chats and on up to conferences
  • Vfairs – best for virtual expos and webinars
  • Bizzabo – can be used for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events – recently chosen by Timpanogos Storytelling Virtual Festival

Compare pricings and what you need–expect to pay at least $100-$1,500/year and onward depending if you want a lot of bells and whistles. The exception is the social livestreaming–such as YouTube and Facebook, which thrive and need constant content from their users.

Be careful of anything you spend as your organization (be that one person or 100+ Board/Volunteers/Employees) needs to have enough time to be trained and comfortable in running the platform(s). Many have free trials, and ALWAYS take advantage of these offers. Test any or all platforms that intrigue you. If you choose NOT to use a platform, make sure that you cancel before any accidental payments occur.

Remember that you need to consider how much education and training you will need to give attendees so they can have a smooth and stress-free experience.

Even when most people know Zoom, you will want some kind of 5-minute introduction before any and all virtual sessions. This can be live or in-the-moment by an assigned host. We prefer a pre-recorded version that we show through “shared screen” with optimized sound. We also give this direct video link after people register. Our Board received a tailored 1-hour training on Zoom while also commissioning Jim Brule’ to create the following. You may want one with your logo or feel free to use ours–

Is any portion of your virtual event being multi-streamed?

You do not have to be contained to one platform. Zoom and the Social Livestreams (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) have the ability to reach more audiences. In fact, many streaming services can have 30+ platforms…except that the majority of them tend to be more video-gaming focused. Enough of those platforms are mainstream to make it worth it if you are offering a free virtual event.

For example, we have experience in multi-streaming to YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. Our greatest numbers came from YouTube while Facebook had some impressive exponential growth after live-streaming. Twitch had the event “disappear” after two weeks as opposed to being “forever” on YouTube and Facebook.

Multi-streaming makes the most sense when offering free events or Tip Jar/Pay What It’s Worth set-ups.

Here are the two favorite multi-streaming services:

  • Restream – chosen by Story Crossroads due to easy set-up with Zoom and easy to find 20% or 30% discount codes, about $40/month with code
  • StreamYard – also about $40/month, ability to feature/spotlight real-time comments from audience during live broadcast

Registration/Ticketing Software is as important as the platform(s) chosen.

Here are some of the ones seen quite often as well as what we chose:

  • Eventbrite – best if event is free, does have cost when event is not free, read some reviews of why people like/dislike it (possible that it collects user data)
  • Eventcombo – attendees can use a mobile app, this can have in-event purchasing, connections with ParkWhiz, Uber, and Lyft
  • Wild Apricot – amazing customer service with real-time chat, telephone calls, and video tutorials, free version if only offering free events otherwise minimum $40/month, chosen by Story Crossroads
  • Long Listing of Ticketing and some reviews – through GetApp

Although not a ticketing service, it is possible to set up a single price to sliding scale through Square. This is free to set up account/online store.

How to Set Up Sliding Scale Pricing for Your Virtual Event:

  • Click “Item” on left side and then “Create new item.”
  • Towards the bottom, click on “Add variation.”
  • Complete the “Variation name” with something like “$5 – minimum” or “$25 – suggested donation” or whatever you need to use.
  • Complete the price to be “$5.00” or “$25.00” or whatever the specific price is for the Variation name.

When not using Square, usually a registration service such as Wild Apricot can have a Sliding Scale through “Multiple Choice with Extra Charge” or as separate Registration types.

Continue with us with Part 3 to “Rapports and Introductions” on important reminders to send to registrants after signing up, including word choice of marketing to established or new audiences.

You can make this virtual. You can realize your dreams for it.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Participate or present as part of the All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series that kicks off Monday, September 7, 2020 with Simon Brooks.