As a result of hosting our own local events we decided to try and increase the potential audience by introducing a live stream. Our events will now be broadcast to anyone across the world with an internet connection and an interest in the topics.

While the advantages are quite clear, how to actually live stream an event wasn’t so clear. There were lots of conflicting advice and buying options; so here I’m going to show how we’re running a live stream, all for under £80.

There is a huge range of kit available that can help you run a slick live stream however often these high-end products can see your costs run into hundreds and potentially thousands of pounds. Such an amount is generally out of budget for most businesses and organisations these days, and especially for free events like ours.

What’s needed

Video

We use a Logitech c615 HD Webcam as our video source connected to a laptop, it promises up to 1080p HD video which is very impressive. It also boasts its autofocus which generally works well although a few times when slides change it take a second or two to focus correctly.

Audio

It’s important to have clear and defined audio for your live stream, there’s nothing worse than watching a live stream with distorted or faint sound from the presenter.

Generally the built-in microphone on your computer will perform very poorly inside a busy room; it will pick up lots of noise from the audience including murmuring and coughing degrading your live stream.

So we recommend purchasing a microphone for a small amount. There are two types you can get – wired or wireless.

We use a Boya BY-MI Lavalier Wired Microphone which performs fairly well. It’s a bit unsightly seeing this wire from the presenter for the audience present however wireless microphones are more expensive and a good quality one is even more expensive.

Tripod

In order to put your HD Webcam into a good position to see the entire stage, including the presentation slides on screen and the presenter themselves, you should use a free-standing tripod.

We own a number of different tripods in our studio for photography work so we have a good choice. For an inexpensive tripod the Hama Star 61 tripod performs exceptionally well for the low cost.

Google Hangouts On Air

In order to stream online we use Google Hangouts On Air which allows users to broadcast online for free. It also integrates closely with YouTube and we use this to embed the live stream on our own website which we can share on social media.

Another benefit to Hangouts on Air is that it is recorded and automatically saved to your YouTube channel after. This allows us to share the video on our website and social media channels after the event.

Internet Connection

The key component of any live stream is being able to actually stream it online. Having a wired connection or a reliable wi-fi connection is important to ensure that the stream stays online but more importantly stays stable throughout. If a connection is intermittent forcing video and audio to drop off then people aren’t going to view it.

Other alternatives

There are a few other alternatives to explore for live streaming as a number of new apps have come on the market in the past 3 months.

Among the most popular are Periscope (iOS only) and Meerkat (iOS & Android), they simply allow you to broadcast live video from your mobile device.

The major downsides to Meerkat is that users can’t watch a stream again, while Periscope only allows users to watch again within 24 hours. At the time of recording you can save the video to your device however this could prove problematic if you don’t have much free space on your device and the event lasts a long time.

For the last The Tomorrow Labs Presents event we ran a Periscope live stream in conjunction with our own live stream as detailed above and we found good engagement with it. It means an increased set-up time and you’ll need special adaptors for tripods to hold your mobile device however it certainly is worth looking into.

Conclusion

There are a number of different options available if you’re looking to live stream your event at a low cost. We understand that our current set-up can be improved however we are happy to have a fully functioning live stream that helps us spread the message of our talks at such a low outlay.