Prepare for an Online Graduation

With the current pandemic and Shelter In Place / Social Distancing rules in place in the United States, graduation ceremonies have shifted to a digital graduation. Here are some tips on how you can help your school enable a virtual graduation.

Behind the Scenes

This is the outline for Mercy High School Burlingame’s 1st Virtual Graduation. As you can see, it’s a combination of live and pre-recorded segments like a TV show.

On the video on the right give you a preview of what a remote technical director would do on your production. The TD is responsible for streamlining the live participants and to switch between live content and recorded content.

  • Pre-Show at 1:55:45 – Video of teachers and countdown
  • Zoom Gallery View of Students, Pomp & Circumstance ~ 1:59:12
  • Welcome – Live Skype
  • Salutatorian – Recorded video
  • Suscipe – Recorded video
  • Gospel – Recorded video
  • Honor societies  – Recorded video
  • Major Awards – Recorded video
  • Valedictorian – Recorded video
  • Head of School Address- Live
  • Diplomas – Recorded video
  • Alma Mater – Recorded video
  • Tassels – Recorded video
  • Zoom Gallery View of Students celebrating
  • Recession 
  • End screen – Recorded video

Prepare your content

Just like the example above, you can ask participants to record their content in advance and send them to you to review. This should be completed at least two weeks or more in advance. The last week should be used for the dry runs with the content.

Tips for better streaming video

Record the speakers

Many of the students just used their phones or laptops to record themselves. Just be sure to have them set their video at 1080p HD quality, have clear sound, and good lighting. Having good sound is more important than good video, so avoid large rooms that may have echos. Using headphones with a microphone helps. Once the participants record their video, have them send it to an online drive platform of your choice. Dropbox is great because they have a request files feature. This allows them to upload files to a folder without seeing any other files. This keeps the event a surprise.

Create a slideshow from the faculty and staff

Most people respond to visual content, and they respond strongly. Marketers know that, which is why they use images, videos, and infographics online. A slideshow from teachers and staff always pulls the heart strings.

Test submitted music for copyright

You or the students who are creating any slideshows may be tempted to use their favorite song. YouTube and Facebook have algorithms that can instantly recognize copyrighted music and can shut down your stream during a broadcast. Even after the broadcast is over, it may be analyzed and the graduation video could be deleted or audio muted for copyright infringement. Fortunately, Pomp and Circumstance is not flagged for copyright since it is part of the public domain.

Facebook Music

Instead of a drive-through, use Zoom for the Graduates

The beauty of using Zoom is that you can also capture all the students in a Gallery View to catch their reactions, or to have them interact with the show.

Practice, Practice, Practice and share a master script

Even famous actors or news anchors rehearse their roles. There’s a lot of moving parts in a live stream, and it’s best to work out most of the kinks so that everyone is prepared and knows what to expect. For example, we did 3 dry runs with the faculty that was presenting live. And we had a separate session where the students tested their Zoom connection. This was facilitated by the admissions director. As a technical director, I’m providing guidance to the students and the staff.

The outline above is part of a master script that is shared on Google Docs. This allowed us to make real-time changes and share the screenshots of the flow of the event. We all can follow the scripts accordingly. I even recommended that anyone reading download a teleprompter app to reduce any issues with manual scrolling.

Here's an edited example from Mercy High School Burlingame

Share the video download

Keep in mind that technology does not always go as planned. The Internet can be spotty for any of the participants. I’ve been on corporate webcasts for Fortune 100 companies and even the CEO’s video was choppy or the audio was out of sync for another executive! Sometimes we are at the whim of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs). With that said, offer a place where students can download an edited copy of the graduation that removes any accidental dead time or errors in the feed. I’m not saying that you should re-write history (since the live feed should be available right after the graduation) – but at least they can have a high quality copy of what the vision of the graduation should be so they can share with it with family or friends and not have to fast forward through the issues. To ensure your participants have the best audio and video, have them review these tips.


Contact us today if you need help running a virtual graduation live stream

If you read this far, it means that you’re destined to do better than 99% than your competition who is only looking to do basic streaming. You want your organization to stand out. Be rest assured that we will provide the highest level of service.