Friday, January 25, 2013

Cool Things My Friends Do: Holly Duckworth Conducts A Conference Presentation Via Skype

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their work and personal lives. 

This week I got to be part of something cool.  An experiment of sorts in the meetings industry.

My friend (and fellow National Speakers Association member) Holly Duckworth presented a large training session / workshop to a convention audience from 1300 miles away via Skype... while I live-facilitated the room in Austin, Texas.

Holly was asked to speak on "Getting Association Volunteers More Engaged" at the 13th annual Southwest Showcase (hosted by TSAE, MPI-Texas Hill Country Chapter, and IAEE-Central Texas Chapter), but was already committed to be speaking in Detroit on the same day.

Being a risk taker and one who likes to push herself beyond her comfort zone, Holly suggested that she lead her breakout session at the conference via Skype.  Those planning the conference were very open to unique presentation ideas, and were willing to experiment with the still new concept of a virtual presentation.

Since I was going to be the opening keynote speaker for the event, Holly asked if I would be on hand "in-person" to help facilitate the session.  I would also be "on-deck" to become the Plan-B Presenter should the technology connections fail (fortunately I have knowledge on this topic!!!).  I am all about pushing the envelope of "traditional conference experiences" when working with clients, and I was excited to be included in this trial effort.

Everything went well, and Holly did a great job of leading the session via Skype.  One attendee shared with me that she took three pages of notes, and enjoyed the way Holly and I bantered back and forth as if we were old pros at doing this type of "live and online" presentations.  Another found the concept to be a perfect fit for his own association that has an 80 year-old "expert" who could no longer travel to events.

While this was certainly not the first event to ever "Skype-In" a speaker, it is still relatively uncommon for conferences, trade shows, conventions and other gatherings to take a chance on something that is different (and that runs the risk of having a technology glitch).  Holly, the host committee, and I all learned a few "best-practices" from this experience that will make it even better the next time any of us undertake a virtual show.

I appreciate it when conferences try things that are out of the ordinary. I think all speakers should be open to "playing" with the event organizer to revamp the old ways and further impact the "Conference Attendee Experience".

Congrats to Holly for doing something new (and KUDOS to the event organizers for supporting the concept!!!).  I appreciate the opportunity to have been part of this session.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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. 

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