The last time we blogged about this topic, we went into detail about that “one weird trick” for bringing Telepresence into your Webex Event Center meetings and events. While effective, that “trick” involved a complex setup to get there. Fun for geeking out — not as much fun when trying to simplify your virtual event workflow. If only that trick could simply become a feature of Event Center… (spoiler alert).

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Join Event Center via Video System

As you may have guessed by the trail of bread crumbs, Event Center now supports joining directly via Cisco Video devices. This is a feature that has been available in Webex Meetings for some time and has now (finally!) been made available for Webex Event Center. Now you can easily include high-quality desk- or room-sourced video in your Webex Event Center virtual events without needing a workaround or complex trick to make it happen.

Video Device Join Options

If the ability to join Event Center via Video devices wasn’t enough good news, there’s actually multiple ways you can make it happen.

  1. Use Proximity: If you have a Cisco Video device with Proximity features enabled your PC, Mac or mobile device can connect to the video device easily and join the Event via the video device without even touching the video device.
  2. Get a call back: You can tell Event Center the SIP address of your video device and the Event will call you; for example: (SIP) MikesVideoDevice@mydomain.com.
  3. Call into the meeting via SIP: Similar to the call back option, you can also opt to call directly into the Event from your SIP-enabled video device.

These methods of joining are detailed here.

The catch? This is only available for panelists and the host of the event.  Attendees are still restricted to web-based video (webcams, mobile device cams).  That said, Events typically showcase a presenter or presenters (panelists) so this restriction should not usually be an issue for your virtual events.

Webex Event Center Town Hall Features

Now that we have processed the excitement that is Join via Video Device for Webex Event Center, let’s not lose sight of all the other features that make Event Center a great fit for your town hall virtual event or virtual events in general:

  • A hard separation between the “host and panelists,” who can speak, present and answer Q&A in the meeting and the “attendees,” who join the audioconference pre-muted and can only ask questions in Q&A and view presentations
  • Multiple options to join the audioconference, including public switched telephone network (PSTN) call-in, PSTN call-back (on some audio plans) and via app-integrated Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with mic/speakers
  • Multiple options to join the web conference portion of the meeting, including from Windows, Mac, iOS and Android (with dedicated, full-featured apps for iOS and Android)
  • A rich feature set to help keep large meetings (up to 3,000 participants) under control, including:
    • The “roles” of meeting participant with the appropriate permissions and features: the host, panelists and attendees
    • The ability to give attendees short-term speaking privileges (such as for a live Q&A) or promote them to full-blown panelists
    • Optional automatic forced muting of attendees upon meeting entry
    • Q&A module that allows in-meeting text chat, but keeps it manageable
    • Live polling directly in the meeting client application
  • A variety of security options to control meeting access, ideal for internal-only town halls
  • An optional pre-meeting invitation/registration system and a post-meeting surveying system with a variety of customer relationship management (CRM) integrations, completing the event experience
  • Network-based meeting recording, with download and streaming options, as well as registration-based access options for recording security
  • Fully detailed event reporting, including attendee information, Q&A transcripts, as well as post-event recording viewership reporting

Practicing with Event Center

If you have used Webex Meetings before you may be quite comfortable with all the aspects of the virtual meeting experience. So much so that you may think “Event Center sounds just like Webex Meetings — this will be easy!” It can be easy, but practice makes perfect — or at least avoids many imperfections.

Imagine if you can host a run-of-the-mill meeting in person. Ten or so folks drop into the conference room and plow through an hour of collaborating. Besides maybe an agenda and booking the room, there’s not much else to be concerned with, right? Now imagine you are planning a quarterly meeting with 150 or more people. You need a much bigger room, chairs, directions for how best to arrive and join, snacks, a stage and microphone, and so on. The point is that event planning is important for both real and virtual events.

So, do yourself and your participants a favor and practice your event ahead of time. Make sure everyone understands their role (host, panelist, attendee) and any responsibilities or restrictions that come with it. Practice muting/unmuting, sharing content, managing Q&A, polling, etc. You and your attendees will both be pleased with the results of a well-planned and executed event.

Wrapping Up

It seems that with anything, the last 5 percent is the hard part. That 5 percent for Event Center used to include “joining via a video device,” but now that part has been made easy. In the case of town hall-style events, Webex Event Center has the 95+ percent down easy, and with some planning, practice and execution the last 5 percent along with a great virtual event experience is well within your grasp.