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Posts tagged ‘webcasts’

Free Webinar: Beyond Social Media – Uncover New Ways To Connect, Engage and Educate Your Audience Physically And Virtually

This morning, I joined Jeff Hurt (Velvet Chainsaw Consulting) and Michael McCurry (Experient) in a webinar called: Beyond Social Media: Uncover New Ways To Connect, Engage and Educate Your Audience Physically and Virtually. The webinar was organized by InXpo and was part of their InXpoLive program. The webinar gave us a great opportunity to experience the InXpo platform from behind the curtain.

The slide deck is below and the webinar recording is available here: Webinar recording.

Bottom Line

Social Media is creating new opportunities for you to connect, engage and educate your attendees. As your attendees get used to having more of these two way experiences in their real lives – they will start expecting similar experiences from your events. While there are many technologies that can help you – you need to make sure that you (1) set your objectives, (2) assess your audience and (3) map your needs to the resources that are available to you.

Staying Connected to 5 Conferences While Packing Boxes

I am in full blown moving mode. We are moving from Switzerland to the United States. As I write this, I am sitting on the floor of my empty apartment with only the wifi access remaining. Our furniture is loaded into a container that is starting a six week voyage to the US.

Moving the Smith's to the US

What is really strange is that I still feel connected to five different conferences that are happening around me in other parts of the world:

> MeetDifferent, Cancun: This event just finished and had a virtual access pass. On Sunday, I played Midori Connolly’s The Hybrid Meeting Dissected in the background while I was making some final arrangements before the movers arrived on Monday morning. Midori and Glenn Thayer did an excellent job of engaging the virtual audience in the presentations and discussion. If you are an MPI member you should watch the presentation and pay close attention to Glenn and how he bridges the virtual and face-to-face audience. Also, I liked the Meet Different iphone application. This free application did a nice job of giving me information on the schedule, speakers, twitter stream, etc. for the conferences.

> Confex, London: Confex is the most important show for the UK meetings and events industry.  Some big news from this event was the launch of the IML Connector. This new blackberry-like-device transforms into a voting keypad, “private” backchannel, simultaneous translation device, audio player and a microphone during events. I think the software behind the device is the most interesting. It seems simple enough that a junior A/V tech,  IT staff member or even a speaker could operate the system. If that is true, this solution could open doors for using interactive technology at many smaller corporate events.

> Virtual Edge 2010, California: This virtual conference had about 200 people onsite and many in the virtual audience. The conference allowed attendees to try 5 different virtual events platforms. I thought this was a great way to give attendees get an apples-to-apples comparison of the different platforms. Sadly, I was only connected to the conference through the twitter backchannel (hashtag: #ve10) on my iphone. I guess you would call it being in the virtual third world. But – I learned alot even from this format. I will be sharing insights from the virtual third world in an upcoming post.

> LikeMinds, Exter UK: This social media conference (starting on Friday) is supposed to be one of the first events where Social Media experts actually bring the many-to-many feature of Social Media into Face-to-Face events. I am eager to see how they do it. If you want to follow the event, you can watch the livestream on the Twitterface. Twitterface is a web based solution that allows you to include twitter streams and webcasting into the same user interface. It looks like a cool way to engage virtual attendees.

> MPI European Meetings & Events Conference, Spain: This conference starts on Sunday and I will be there speaking about event technology at two sessions. One session is on Virtual Events 101 and the other is called building a Digital Gameplan for Events. You can follow the backchannel for this event at #EMEC10. I will try to recruit some MPI Europe members to join me on the backchannel. Here is a video about my two sessions:

Bottom Line

Even though, I have been packing boxes and going through the moving process – I have found it remarkably easy to stay connected with several different events this week. Consider “opening a window” into your next event, so remote or virtual attendees can participate in one way or another. Who knows – maybe they will attend in person the following year.

So, what do you do while packing boxes?

Lessons in Engaging Attendees from Event Camp NYC 2010

On Saturday, the self-organized twitter group #eventprofs organized its first conference. The event was called Event Camp and was centered around Social Media in Events. This was supposed to be an unconference – but was really more of a tribal meeting in my mind. [See Mike McCurry's post for more] You see, this group recognizes each other’s unique talents and uses those as an opportunity to learn from each other and work together.

Friday Dinner At Event Camp

Friday Dinner At Event Camp

Here are some lessons from Event Camp on engaging attendees that I hope will help you.

Pre-Event Community

Event Camp created an event community around the event with the Omnipress Conference 2.0 solution. This turned out to be helpful for many attendees. I noticed that many would received the daily digest and then add their ideas or comments. Three things came out of the community: (1) High Awareness in the Hybrid Events Session and Fishbowl Sessions, because these sessions were discussed on the conference community. (2) Informal Dinners and Social Gatherings were arranged by the attendees. (3) Several attendees were invited to share and shared their reasons for attending with the larger audience.

[Read Jenise Fryatt's post on How Social Media Creates a Need For Attendees To Meet Face2Face for another excellent perspective.]

Big Blue Buffalo Hats

The Social Collective has an interesting solution called CrowdCampaign that was used by the attendees to choose some swag that the event staff had to wear. Fortunately, the organizers were very gracious in purchasing and wearing the Big Blue Buffalo Hats. However, there is a second use of CrowdCampaign happening right now. The attendees are trying to decide on their number one takeaway. The list is starting to get really interesting. [crowd campaign list of takeaways]

Reinforcing Messages with Multiple Channels

The backchannel was projected on screens throughout the venue – but most people had one eye on the laptop or iphone and another eye on the speaker. Personally, I found it really helpful to be able to scroll through the backchannel messages on my new iphone. Being able to see these same messages delivered in a second medium helped reinforce some key points for me. (Not to mention that there is a transcript of tweets that I have used to go back and review the event.) While, I recognized that this helped reinforce the messages to me – it was Ray Hansen of IML that actually pointed this out. Thanks Ray.

Including More People

Thanks to Mike McAllen of Grass Shack Events & Media and the team at Core Staging this event had a hybrid component. The main plenary hall of the conference was being broadcast on Livestream and secondary sessions were recorded. As an attendee, I found it really engaging to get input, ideas and questions from these virtual attendees. Equally important, we made sure to wave once or twice to our friends at home too. I think this was a nice touch.

[Read Emilie Barta’s post - Live and Virtual Events Compliment Each Other, Not COMPETE with Each Other for more]

Bridging the Virtual And Face-to-Face Audience

This community was active on the twitter backchannel, making comments asking questions, etc. Mike McCurry was an excellent conduit between the face-to-face audience and the virtual attendees. He made sure that any questions the virtual audience had were integrated into the face-to-face discussion. This is a key role to making sure that their voices were heard, too. [Read Christina Stalling's post on some of her backchannel learnings]

Engaging Virtual Attendees During Breaks

Breaks can be quite boring for virtual attendees that are watching the room be reset or attendees getting coffee.  So, it was very cool to see Emilie Barta (a professional tradeshow presenter) interviewing speakers and attendees during the break. I think this is a low effort – high return way to enhance the virtual attendee’s experience.

Let’s Jump into the Fishbowl

My session was a collaborative session that used the fishbowl format. In this session, I turned the attendees into the experts and took the “guide on the side” role. This allowed us to do more learning from each other – rather than have me go through 6400 slides in 40 minutes. Since, I am the host of the Interactive Meeting Technology Blog – I would have let all of you readers down if my session didn’t have an interactive component.

[Read Lara McCulloch-Carter's post - Fishbowl session through the eyes of the virtual attendee for some discussion and feedback on my session]

User-Generated Content

Event Camp was loaded with User-Generated content. There was a “bloggers row” type space that was designed to make life easy for people using computers during the sessions. So far – there are atleast 10 blog posts on learnings and ideas created from the event. There will probably be several more. Also, there were dozens of photos taken from the attendees. Thanks to Social Media guru – David Berkowitz – the iphone application Cat Paint became the big hit of Event Camp. Cat Paint allows you to drop cats onto iphone photos before sending them out over twitter. Some attendees made sure that we all got a good laugh out this. Here is a picture of me with a cat on my shoulder. (Personally, I think the applications of this tool in terms of a sponsorable item would be amazing. take out the cat and insert – your event logo or product name.)

Bottom Line

Event Camp evolved out of an online community of individuals that has a passion for Social Media in Events. From the speakers to the attendees to the sessions this event was one of the most comprehensive and complete learning laboratories on Social Media in Events.

Ok – Event Campers – what else would you add?

(PS: Eventprofs recently celebrated its first anniversary on 9 February 2010 )

Worlds Are Colliding to Create New Opportunities for Events

Yesterday, my colleague Ruud Janssen and I delivered a presentation called the 2010 Event Technology Shopping List at EIBTM. I will post the slides and video soon. But, first I wanted to share some of the thinking that was at the heart of our work.

Worlds Are Colliding

Event Technology Worlds Are Colliding

The digital world and the face to face worlds are colliding and I see several new opportunities emerging for events. Yesterday, we tackled these four new opportunities that have emerged for events to use event technology to transform the event:

  • Extending the Meeting
  • Including More People
  • Improved Interaction
  • New Formats

Extending the Meeting

We have the opportunity to stretch event experiences from 1-2 days to several days, weeks and months. Rather than looking at the meeting as an isolated event – we can look at it as one point in a conversation stream. By using your digital touch points wisely, you can start relationships earlier and change the nature of the face-to-face interactions onsite. Webinars, webcasts, social networks and social media tools are some of the technologies making this possible.

Including More People

The people that come to your event are a subset of your event community. For one reason or another, there are some people that cannot come to your event. It has nothing to do with you, your program, the venue, the destination or the price – they just can’t come. Rather than ignore these “potential” attendees – the technology tools like the backchannel and live streaming help you include them in your event experience.

Increasing Interaction

Attendees are smarter than they have ever been. The gap between the experts on stage and the attendees in the audience has never been smaller. The collaboration tools that we have at our disposal have made it easier than ever to create this interaction. Equally important – there are a large number of audience response keypads, gadgets, handheld devices and mobile applications that put the power in the attendee’s hand and make it easier for you to engage them: Ask questions, collect ideas, vote, etc.

Alternative Formats

We still live in a world where good projects (meetings, marketing plans, etc.) are being cut in favor of better projects. Telepresence and Virtual Events are two event formats that have emerged as viable lost cost alternatives (or compliments) to full face-to-face events. While some face-to-face diehards may initially raise their noses at these two formats – I suggest that you take a closer look. I would prefer that you keep some options in your back pocket and fight for your projects – rather than accept defeat when the finance department and management want to cut your event.

Bottom Line

The collision between the digital world and the face-to-face world creates several new opportunities for events. By framing the discussion in terms of these new opportunities – you can strategically approach technology rather than look at it tactically.

That’s my take – what do you think?

Which Event Technology Delivers The Best ROI?

ROI DialToday, I was asked to pick ONE event technology that offers the best ROI for events.

The questioner didn’t want to hear –“well there are several choices depending on your needs – blah, blah, blah.” He wanted one answer. He wanted it on the spot.

For me, this was gut-check time. So – I blurted out: Virtual meetings and hybrid events.

I made a good choice. Though, I imagine some of you are thinking that I must be riding the crazy-train to loony land.

So, here’s the deal. I will share the reasoning for my choice below. Then, I need you to push back. Pick an event technology that you think offers a better ROI and make your case.

GE Telepresence Center

Why I Chose Virtual Meetings & Hybrid Events

This event format is building communities and including more people in events than ever before and doing it for less.

Save Money

Cisco recently reported that they cut their event expenses by 90% by hosting a virtual meeting. It makes sense – when you host a virtual event you avoid travel, venue and F&B charges, etc.  GE is using massive 60 person Telepresence centers to avoid long distance travel and save money. One executive traveling to Asia for a meeting can cost more than $30,000 and more than 6000 pounds of carbon emissions.

Include More People

Another powerful benefit is using the hybrid format as a compliment to a face-to-face event to include more people. Here are two examples:

Drive Virtual Attendees to Face-to-Face

Equally important, I think using virtual as a compliment to face-to-face is good for your event. Imagine using virtual activities to drive people to your face-to-face event. 34% of the Cisco virtual attendees reported that they would like to attend a face-to-face event in the future.

A Word of Caution!

Virtual events are not right for all meetings. Forbes recently published a report on “Business Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face Meetings.” In that report they interviewed 750 business executives that agreed that Virtual Events are best for “Presenting Data” and “Information Dissemination.” In all other cases, the executives agreed that Face-to-Face meetings were the best solution.

Bottom Line

Virtual & hybrid events offer event planners another way to connect to a larger community, drive attendees to your face-to-face events, save money and reduce carbon emissions.   Sounds like a great ROI to me?

Ok – the floor is yours – Make your case.

18 Tips To Make Your Event Webcast Rock!

Are you thinking about adding a webcast to your next conference? I feel like “live” webcasts from conferences are popping up everywhere.  Just last week, three webcasts caught my attention.  I watched the presentations and engaged in discussions about the content.

Though, I was surprised by the lack of standards and best practices. All three webcasts had different formats, used different technologies and created three different experiences for me (the virtual attendee).  All three events would have rocked, if a mashup of all three experiences existed.

If webcasts are going to become a standard part of conferences and events – they need to rock! So, I came up with 18 tips that I hope will help the first-time-webcaster get off to a successful start. The tips are divided into 5 categories to make it easier for you to digest them and think about them. If you have additional tips, please add them in the comments section!

Sample Webcast Screen

Planning Your Session

1. Think Like a TV Producer. Once you start webcasting you are basically creating a television show. You need to think about your audience and ask yourself: Who is my audience? When will they want to watch my program? What do I need to do in the presentation to keep them from changing the channel? Do I need to make any changes in the introduction, content and wrap up to accommodate them?

2. Pick a Date/Time that works for your virtual audience. If you want your webcast to be seen by a large “live” audience, then air your webcast at a time when the largest virtual audience will be available. Be sure to pay attention to time zone changes between East and West Coast of US and Europe. One recent webcast that I saw was broadcast live at 10AM MTN time on a Sunday morning in the US. People were either attending church, eating brunch or sleeping. It was a terrible time. Another snafu was 9AM EST on a weekday. In Europe that was a great time – middle of the afternoon. However, the westcoasters were still snuggled under the covers.

3. Use Social Tools to Share Your Story. In “Here Comes Everybody” Clay Shirky writes that the easier things are to share – the more that people will share. So – use social tools to help your audience to tell their “like minded” friends about your webcast. Make it easy for them to email or tweet the links. Ask them to write about it in their blogs. (Tips for Integrating Social Technologies in Webcasts/Virtual Events)

4.  Create a Hashtag for Your Webcast. Use Hashtags to help a community form around your event by aggregating the buzz and user generated content on Twitter, Blogs, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Equally important, the hashtags will help people that are talking about your virtual session connect with each other and exchange ideas.

5. Assign Someone to Tweet (or Connect) the Virtual Audience with the Face2Face Audience. Having someone summarize key points and tweet them to the virtual audience helps the virtual audience connect with your event. Encourage this person to ask the virtual audience questions. In the #bizbutterflies session Paul Salinger asked the virtual audience questions that provided additional points of view. He then shared those tips with the live face-to-face audience.  (Additional Tips from Doug Caldwell)

Webcast Technology

6. Computer Screen Real-Estate: In my dream world, the screen would contain the video, the slides AND a place to see the backchannel. I have yet to see anyone do it. Most vendors provide either the video + backchannel or the Video + slides. Be sure to select a vendor that can integrate 2 of these 3 services on the screen. When you find a vendor that can do all three – tell me!!

7. Setup a Backchannel: Virtual participants need to lean over and whisper comments to their neighbor, too. So, use a backchannel to help them chat. This could be through the Hashtag or a private chat. If this is a commercial conference or an association conference – please use Twitter as part of your solution. It is much easier for everyone. (Backchannel Explained by Jeff Hurt)

8. Don’t Use That Auto-Rotating Webcam. In my opinion, a webcam is fine for webcasting breakout sessions or people standing in a stationary position. However, I strongly advise that you stay away from the auto-rotating webcam. They end up focusing on attributes and places that are more distracting than helpful.

9. Include the Slides/Screen Content: If there is a screen that will be broadcasting slides and videos please make sure that the virtual audience can see that content. Most commonly I have seen slides embedded on the screens next to the video  or offered as downloadable resources.

Integrate the Online Audience with the Face2Face Audience

10. Introduction and Background: If you are webcasting a single session from your conference, it is important to introduce all speakers, leaders, characters, etc that will be participating in the session to your virtual audience. Most virtual participants will not be familiar with the rituals and customs of your organization or your event. For example, one event had a talking eagle that was probably a hit with the face to face audience. For the online-audience the eagle appeared out of place.

11. Take Some Questions from the Virtual Audience: By including the virtual attendees in the question and answer portion of the session – you ensure that their ideas and points of view are valued.

12. Show the Backchannel Comments on a Video Screen: Include a big screen or two (depending on room size) that shows audience comments. Here are a list of options for showing these comments on the screen via twitter: (View List)

13. Conclusion and Wrap-up of session: Be sure to plan plenty of time to properly wrap-up and conclude your virtual session.  Thank everyone for attending – share next steps, etc. This might sound obvious but I have been to several webcasts where this did not happen, because the technology had a hard cut-off point. If your webcast technology has a hard time cut-off then be sure to start the wrapup early. Otherwise, you could be in the middle of answering questions or just starting your “Thanks for coming” speech and the session immediately cuts off. If that happens it looks really, really bad to the virtual audience.

Stage Setup

14. Seating, Podium and Stage Space: Be alert to how your stage setup – seating, podium, backdrop, etc will work on the video. It is sometimes hard to visualize without the cameras. In some webcasts, I have seen the speaker darting in and out of the camera view. In others there were objects in the line of sight of the camera that were distracting to online viewers.  Also, you might want to give your speakers instructions of where to stand/walk so their movements do not distract online viewers.

15. Ask your A/V Company To Be Consultants. A/V professionals are experts in production – so be sure to use them as a resource when planning your webcast.  They might be able to help you avoid simple mistakes that improve the quality of your presentation. You might not need a lot of help, but by keeping them in the loop – you might avoid some simple mistakes.

After Your Event:

16. Archive the Session Video Immediately: People that joined late may want to watch the portion of the presentation that they missed. By offering the archive immediately, they can do this while they are thinking about your event. Others will want to tell their “like minded” friends about the “Awesome webcast” that they missed. Having the archive immediately available helps your participants spread the message of your awesome webcast.

17. Archive the Backchannel Discussion for Future Review. The Backchannel will contain questions, comments, new ideas and additional links to resources. By archiving the backchannel you create another educational resource for participants to use.

18. Look for Blogger Recaps of your Session. Your virtual attendees might write blog posts and other stories about your sessions. Share the links to your archive documents with these bloggers.

Additional Resources:

19. 10 Takeaways on Virtual Events from “Boldly Going Where you Should Already Be” by Jeff Hurt (Read)

20. Virtual Meetings and Renegade Tweeps by Midori Connolly (Read)

21. 6 Things to Consider on the Way to the New World by Ian McGonnigal (Read)

22. Virtual Events Boost Live Attendance (Read)

23. Free E-Book on Virtual Events by Virtual Edge (Download)

How Can You Contribute?

There are a lot of ideas and resources in this post.  It could be better with your input! Please share your ideas, experiences and additional resources in the comments section.  For those of you organizing your first webcast – please use the tips and let me know what is missing. I look forward to your suggestions and contributions!

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