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Feature Review: Webex Sync to Stage for Recordings

John Lovell

The pace at which web conferencing vendors update or add features has dramatically increased over the past few years. It’s not always apparent to users what these features are, let alone how to benefit from them.

At Intellor, we read release notes and tinker in our early release site like it’s our job – because it is. This post begins a series in which we share our thoughts on new features, including who should harness them and how.

The background: Webex has long made it possible for hosts to “Sync to Stage” – or force a specific view for all participants in a Webex Webinar. In short, the advantage of this feature is that it allows the host to direct participants’ focus – in the live webinar. The downfall was in the recording – which followed the site or account default. And given that is most often set by an administrator and not obvious to the user, live and recorded webinars were often mismatched.

Let’s say you synced a view of two speakers – side by side – during your live webinar. Your administrative setting might have only the after speaker featured, with the other reduced to a thumbnail. Distracting, if the dialogue was back and forth – and not what you intended.

The new feature: With the introduction of the option to record sync to stage, you can make your recording match your live webinar. So, whether your audience joins live or watched your recording on-demand, they’ll experience your content exactly as you intend. (Note: you’ll have to enable the feature “Follow synced layout when host or cohost syncs the stage for everyone” in your account first.)

Let’s go back to those two speakers – side by side – in the example above. This new feature means your webinar recording will match the live webinar – regardless of administrative settings – and you can direct your participants’ focus whether they’re viewing live or on-demand.

Who benefits from this webinar feature?

Anyone who wants or needs to control participants’ experience – in particular, which video is seen, when and how. A host may want to shift focus from the CEO to the CTO during an All-Hands meeting, but need to ensure the ASL interpreter is always in focus. A host may want to ensure that a government agency’s Board remains in focus during for most of a session, but that members of the public are also on stage while registering comments. This new feature ensures that the recorded content precisely matches the live.

How to harness this webinar feature?

Like most aspects of successful webinars, it starts with a clear agenda and advanced planning.

The agenda should include stage direction – who or what should be displayed at any given moment. The webinar operator (whether host or third-party) should preview the agenda and confirm the visual run-of-show.

All webinar presenters should be advised to have cameras on for the duration of the event. (Note: The only videos displayed will be those synced to stage by the webinar operator. Ensuring all presenters keep cameras on for the duration makes for seamless transitions without creating distractions.)

Finally, when the stakes are high, schedule a dry run to ensure a seamless flow and to ensure a professional live webinar and recording.