Today I presented at ProductCamp 8 in Austin. While I speak to conferences often, this was the first time I had ever presented live to an audience and simultaneously presented live via Google+ Hangouts. The Austin Google team partnered with ProductCamp and broadcast several of the presentations at the event, and it was a great addition to the event..
I did not know in advance that I would be speaking live to the group and to the world via Google+, but I know that "the show must go on", and I adapted to the online audience.
This brings up an interesting new issue in the world of speaking.... How do you manage a live audience and an online audience at the same time?
1. Do not ignore the online attendees. I have watched other streamed conferences where the speakers roam around and leave the range of the camera (or getting so far out that the camera films their back), thus making it a less than ideal experience for those watching remotely. I am one who moves around a lot when I speak. I try to utilize the whole stage, and connect closely with the people in the room. However, in my presentation at ProductCamp I had to improvise my style and keep a balance between the needs of both audiences.
2. Repeat all questions. My talk was conversational, and once the audience began asking questions and sharing their stories, they did not stop. I left my outline behind and went where the live audience wanted to go on the topic. I needed to repeat the gist of their input directly to the Google+ audience to ensure they would be kept involved in the discussion. When speakers do not do this it can leave an online audience feeling left out if they cannot hear the outside questions and comments.
3. Talk directly to the camera. When you are addressing the online audience look into the camera lens. Often in all types of video conferences people look at the picture on their screen that is of the people watching them, but to the viewer it can appear that you are looking down, away, or off the the side (depending on the placement of the monitor and camera). Eye contact with your live audience is very important, but it is just as important to those online. With a mix of participants both live and on Google+ it was important to transition my conversation to the room and the camera.
I am confident that this will not be the last time that I will be asked to present in this manner. The focus of meetings industry professionals is heavily leaning toward "high-bred meetings" (events with both live and online audiences). I expect this will become the normal and not an exception. All speakers need to become familiar with presenting online, and fine tune their skills to address dual audiences. Those who cannot make this transition will be out of touch with the needs of conference planners who are experimenting with more ways to engage the internet audience.
Have A Great Day.
Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com