Troubleshooting Skype Meeting Broadcast
Skype Meeting Broadcast promises a low cost alternative to webinar and other broadcast methods, enabling Office 365 users with the correct licenses to host up to 10,000 attendees. It offers a fairly quick setup and configuration, and little to no real infrastructure for both attendees and presenters.
Despite these clear benefits, Skype Meeting Broadcast can be a little difficult to set up and run without any hitches, so here’s a guide to help get your broadcasts working, and your message out to the masses.
Before we start, a few important notes. These will also be covered in more detail later, as they seem to be where most people trip up:
- You can’t share your desktop or any content other than PowerPoint. If you’re looking to do a product run through or demo, this broadcast service isn’t for you.
- It is very tricky to get the ‘Start Broadcast’ button to become active. Make sure you have a few trial runs before your first official broadcast. I have seen a handful of instances where folks try all types of things to get that button to activate. The answer? You need to make sure you follow the steps for video set up in exactly the right order, otherwise nothing will happen.
- You will also need to have the Skype for Business desktop app installed.
Now with this in mind, let’s review the process from start to finish.
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Making sure you can run Skype Meeting Broadcast
First thing’s first, the meeting organiser must have the right Office 365 licence. According to Microsoft’s Support pages (at the time of publishing this blog), these are the licences and plans which allow you to use the service.
Secondly, Skype Meeting Broadcast is not enabled by default. This can be done by using a simple command once you connect to your Office 365 tenant via PowerShell. The subsequent command is:
Set-CsBroadcastMeetingConfiguration –EnableBroadcastMeeting $True
to confirm the configuration.
If it is not set to True then you can’t go to the next step. Nothing will show up in your tenant directly, but you won’t be able to log into the Skype Meeting Broadcast portal.
Creating a new Broadcast
Now that you are enabled for Skype Meeting Broadcast go to https://portal.broadcast.skype.com to enter your meeting setup page. Log in with your Office 365 credentials.
Select the ‘New meeting’ button, and you will be taken to the next screen.
Ensure that the meeting is in your time zone as you have defined it within Office 365. This is something that can be confusing, so confirm this by reviewing the calendar invite. It also worth mentioning that the default length is in hours, but you can stop a 1-hour meeting after 30 minutes if necessary.
Attendees can be either those with a link (this is a very ‘open’ option – use accordingly), or those within your company (still relatively ‘open’) or invited attendees only (most secure option).
You can enable video recording using the option below. This feature allows you to record your broadcast, which is perfect for any webinars, tutorials or content that you may wish to re-use or distribute at a later point.
If you’re happy with your configured settings, click the Done button.
You can share the information in one of two ways:
Simply send out the link
Or save an ics file for adding to your Calendar
As you can see it has the title, time, and corresponding links for joining or getting help, with a similar feel to Skype for Business. You can forward either the link or the calendar invite (the latter is probably a better idea) to whoever you want to join your broadcast.
Getting into the Broadcast
On the day of the broadcast, you can either go back to your meeting portal or click on the ‘Join the Meeting’ link. Since you are the presenter, sign in as an event team member. If you want other event team members to join they must be added to the meeting prior to logging in.
You will then join via the Skype for Business Desktop app (so make sure that is installed prior to starting up the meeting). The broadcast will look slightly different to the familiar Skype for Business interface.
There are some interesting ‘Skype Meeting Options’ depending on the type of meeting you are having.
The following steps to start the meeting need to be followed in the specific order defined below. You will not be able to get the ‘Start Broadcast’ button to become active until you complete these steps.
Step 1 – Start your Video
Notice that at this point the ‘Start Broadcast’ button is still greyed out.
Now your video will appear in the presenter’s area. But the ‘Start Broadcast’ will still be greyed out.
Step 2 – Make your Video Active for the Broadcast
You need to right-click on a video feed to make that active for broadcasting. Once that happens there will be a change in the video box showing that this is now “Active Video”.
Step 3 – Start the Broadcast
Now finally the ‘Start Broadcast’ button is available
Click on the Button, but only when you’re ready!
You are given a warning as it is not possible to restart a broadcast. If you have a false start, you will need to create a new broadcast and share that, which may be virtually impossible given the number of people potentially involved.
Click on ‘Start Broadcast’ and it will all begin.
Starting a broadcast can take 1-2 minutes, so make sure to allow for this.
Finally, you are LIVE…start broadcasting!
A couple more notes on Skype Meeting Broadcast. You can have multiple presenters, just switch the active video back and forth. You can also share a PowerPoint deck (or multiple decks) but, as mentioned, that is the only supported content at this time. You can’t share your desktop, or share other types of content. This is a restriction which means you can’t use this for demos or other desktop sharing but if your needs are to broadcast video with a deck, you’re all set.
When you’re finished, stop the broadcast, and if you have recorded it, the recording will be sat in your Manage Recordings app.
There is certainly scope for additional features and new capabilities, but the app has been a little static for a while. As more people give Skype Meeting Broadcast a go, and the usage goes up, then it might get a revisit, and the handful of drawbacks (presenting additional content, and that pesky ‘Start Broadcast’ button) might be resolved or developed.