Plate spinning: Lessons from facilitating a live video broadcast

Jo Cook recently facilitated a live broadcast in Scotland of a London-based L&D event. What could go wrong? Here she shares a few lessons learned.

The Charity Learning Consortium’s Martin Baker and I came up with the quite frankly mad idea of beaming a live broadcast of a CLC event in London up to their members based in Scotland. Doing something like this is fraught with the potential for disaster. 

If the technology fails, then your remote delegates are left twiddling their thumbs staring at a blank screen. Remote delegates could also feel disconnected from what is going on at the ‘main event’. This was something the Charity Learning Consortium particularly wanted to avoid, as collaboration, and an ethos of shared knowledge and experience, is at the heart of everything they do.

Facilitating the remote event was the answer. Even though I’ve never facilitated a broadcast event in this way before, I was up for the challenge! As you’d expect, things didn’t always go according to plan but it was a great experience, with good feedback from delegates in Scotland. So here are some of the lessons that I hope will be useful for anyone doing likewise.

Something is bound to go wrong

The phrase ‘fail to prepare: prepare to fail’ is well known, and we had planned, discussed, researched and tested, but when you are at the venue with all the variables, things are different.

Expect the unexpected

When you’re doing something new, for the first time, there will always be things that you didn’t even know you had to consider. You will at times feel like you are making it up as you go along. But it will be easier the next time.

Provide context when broadcasting

If you are broadcasting the video of an event like this live, then don’t just zoom into the speaker, pan out so you can see the backdrop and the audience too so there is some context.

Have slides on display at your remote location

Have speakers’ slides on display on a second screen for remote delegates. It can be tricky to co-ordinate the slides changing at the right time. I’m sure that there is technology out there to do this. However we took the approach of being as simple as possible as this was such a trial! All recommendations for the future are welcome.

Ensure speakers are well briefed on the format of live streaming

For example, ensure speakers know that a second set of slides will be on display – so if they change them, both locations have the same final slides. It also means that their activities need to take this into account for simplicity and to include the conversation from the remote audience.

You need a great all-round facilitator

If the live stream fails at any point, that’s when any facilitator earns their money. Ensure they are briefed, prepared, and have spoken to the presenters if possible, so they are ready to step in. This can be a real challenge.

For example, the Charity Learning Consortium (CLC) event included presentations on engagement, internal communication and neuroscience, as well as lightning talks on a variety of subjects, and some CLC member updates. I had to be prepared to step in on all of these and be able to deliver something of value.

Two heads are better than one

No one person can be an expert in everything. Consider having two people that have different but complementary knowledge and experience that can step in when necessary.

Practise first

You can’t exactly do a dry run, but any webinar, live event hosting, technical knowledge and facilitation experience will be incredibly useful for anyone organising or facilitating this kind of dual event.

Maintain a sense of humour

That’s not just a tongue in cheek comment, as both laughter and stress are infectious – what feeling would you rather convey to your audience?


Good luck with live streaming and facilitating your events, and please let me know how you get on.


About the author

Jo Cook is the deputy editor of Training Journal. Contact her on Twitter @LightbulbJo or email

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