Using Webex Events to live stream
In a digital-first world, companies are rethinking their everyday means of communication. So in a time when digital events are becoming more common, how can we continue to enjoy the physical events, digitally?
Cisco Webex has several solutions to help address this. Here, I’ll walk you through how easy it is to use Webex Events, or known as Webex Event Center, to do a live stream. This blog came about after assisting Capital Factory, USAF and AFWERX, to virtually host their SXSW conference. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Tech & Logistics Dr. Will Roper were among the main speakers for this live event. In less than 48 hours of planning, they were able to virtualize an 8-hour event using 15 different Webex Event panels, which hosted over 122 panelists, and 184 Webex attendees. This also included a Webex integration into a Youtube live stream bringing together close to 5,000 people from different parts of the world. You can check out Capital Factory’s blog on how they pulled it off here.
Scoping your event
The first question I get about live streaming an event is, “Why should I use Webex instead of Facebook Live, YouTube, or other live streaming services?” The simple answer is this: if you want to bring in multiple people around the world in a panel format, do live audio Q&A, and also stream out to attendees, this is the best solution. Furthermore, with Webex Events, you can also have up to 200 dedicated endpoints to be in the Panelist meeting. Endpoints will always provide the best audio and HD video experience in meetings. However, you can also use an HDMI/USB Camera switcher or adapter card if you do not have a Cisco endpoint and use your own video camera to record the event. Below is a list of the main differences of Webex Meetings vs Webex Events. Note that you still can use Webex Meetings for Live Events.
Virtual event planning
Let’s take a step back on what Webex is. Imagine that you were at the physical event and on-site. You would have to visit each floor or room to see the actual event. Here, we created 15 different Webex Event links or URLs. Imagine these links as a “virtual room.” You will provide and invite your panelists and attendees to these links. Since Capital Factory had 15 different panels, 15 different Webex links had to be generated.
If you’re curious, how Capital Factory structured the event, you can see it here.
Understanding Webex Event roles
There are four main user roles in Webex Events. The Attendee, which is the viewer joining your event and then the Panelists, which include the Host and Presenter. Below is a consolidated list of the roles of the Panelists. Think of the Host as the admin or creator of the event that can mute, un-mute, expel users, start the recording, and answer Q&A’s. The Presenter has some of the same capabilities as the host, but you want to have a specific user focused on their tasks for the online event. We recommend a minimum of two Panelists (Host + Presenter) if you want to have a smooth event. Learn about the roles here.
Setting up Webex Events
For the purpose of this blog, we will just focus on the main setup options. The configuration below takes less than 2 minutes.
- Go to your Webex site and click on “Webex Events”. Typically, it would be yourcompany.webex.com.
- Once in the Webex Events section, go to “Schedule an Event.”
- You will notice a lot of options to schedule your event. The red arrows are the main touchpoints to configure in order for you to start your meeting. Once you are done with your settings configuration, click on the “Schedule This Event” button.
- You will now see your Event Information. You can always go back to “Site Events” to see your scheduled events. You can manually start your event by going to the “Start Now” button.
- The Webex app will now download and install. In this setup, I used my Webex Desk Pro as my video endpoint. You can see the other button options as a Host.
You can use the “Start Practice Session” feature as the “backstage prep” for your event. This is where the Panelists can talk with each other before and after the panel and the Attendees cannot hear what’s going on.
You can control the Attendees and participants for the event with the “Mute on Entry.” The “Unmute All” is used if you want to open the floor for audio Q&A.
Webex Events also has a few cool features if you need to quickly add a Panelist. You can provide the Panelist the SIP or phone dial information and Panelist password by going to the top left, Information or “i” icon.
Finally, you can also email a Panelist the Webex Event information or if you are in a pinch, in the unfortunate event a Panelists PC reboots or crashes, there is the option for Webex to call their phone and automatically join.
Joining the event
This is the email invitation that the attendees will receive once an event is scheduled. Note that the event password is in the email.
Upon clicking the big green “Join event” button, the Attendee will now enter their information and event password. You can join by downloading the app which is done automatically as you hit the “Join Now” button or you can use WebRTC by clicking “Join by Browser.”
This client is in WebRTC mode. Once in the meeting, you can use the Q&A panel to ask the Panelists questions, raise your hand, provide feedback or even take polls.
Apple iOS Mobile app
Here you can see the join flow and the variety of options that you have with the mobile app. Webex is also supported on Android as well.
Once the event has ended, the platform can automatically send out surveys and you can configure various “Call to Actions” such as a website popup.
Integrate with YouTube and other platforms
You can integrate Webex to YouTube or Facebook Workplace using partners like VBrick or REC.VC. Take note that VBrick only supports Webex Meeting Center, not Event Center. REC.VC supports both since you add REC.VC as a participant into Meetings or Events (as a Panelist) and it streams it out to their service.
Below is the setup page of REC.VC. You can add any SIP or H.323 endpoint and even enter a PIN. All video can be recorded on their platform if you want to keep your video private. You can join the Webex Teams Community here to learn more. You can start using REC.VC immediately by signing up on their 14-day Free Trial.
Webex can record your event and transcribe your meeting. This becomes very helpful if you want to search for various keywords and jump to specific parts of an eight-hour-long event. If you want to keep your meeting internal, you can use the native recording functionalities in Webex, or use VBrick or REC.VC. The downside of external third-party platforms like YouTube and Facebook Live is that your content is now public and is owned by the 3rd party streaming platforms.
Free Webex & resources
Sign up here to get Webex for free. This package gives you desktop and mobile access for 100 participants, toll-free dial-in, screen sharing, recording and more.
Also, check out our Webex Business Continuity Resources Planning site. It has advice and technology recommendations for dealing with operational infrastructure challenges during this period of Remote Work with great end-user “how-to” guides.[Update March 24]: Here’s a nice recording that goes into a deeper dive on Webex Events Training. Check it out here.
Cisco Offering Webex Events 3000 Free to Customers
Cisco is also extending an offer of providing Webex Events 3000 to customers for free. One month of service is provided for one (1) Named User and must be renewed and approved if the extension needed. Webex Audio (if required) can be added at Standard Discounts. Of course, customers can choose to use VoIP only at no cost if they choose to. This offer needs to be ordered through the partner.
Live streaming a panel isn’t difficult once you go through a practice dry run. Cisco is here for you during these hard times. Please read the blog from our CEO, Chuck Robbins, about our commitment to you.
Overall, this is just a quick overview of how to use Webex Events. To learn more, please go to help.webex.com. If you need immediate access to Webex Events, please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to host one for you.
Stay tuned for more blogs on live streaming best practices. If you have questions, leave a comment and share this blog!