I just had the opportunity to do two hours worth of training for a video conference I’m giving next Thursday. Although I’m no stranger to presentations, I've never done an actual video conference before.
If you’re wondering what a video conference is, it’s where people go to several different geographic locations and then all dial into a virtual meeting place to listen to some people like me present information. I’m sure many of you have been in them before, but it’s going to be cool to actually run one. I’ll be simultaneously presenting to 7 different cities and I’m pumped about it.
I had a chance to get an overview of video conferencing procedures, as well as etiquette from a great instructor named Barb, so I wanted to share a few of the takeaways.
The broadcasting myth
People often use the term broadcasting when talking about a video conference. Barb told me that you can't call it that. Broadcasting is 1-way. Video conferencing allows for communication back and forth.
That little video box where you can see yourself is called a…
Comfort Mirror. That’s the pro term for the video of you up on the screen. In a video conference, your comfort mirror can be a bit deceiving. You see everything in real time, while other sites may have a lag. Barb demonstrated how playing a video on my screen would look perfect, but it would be pixelated and jumpy to others (even using a high-definition equipment on a good line). An easy fix is to either provide a link or ask the site facilitators to download the video ahead of time, so each site can independently play the video.
Choose an order to ask questions and stick to it
This last tip was something that made me sit up and pay attention.It was to start with the same site every time you open the floor to questions and then proceed in the exact same order until you've gone through all the locations.
It turns out this tip is to help out the site facilitators (the person helping you at every site). Asking in the same order every time, helps the facilitators know when their site is going to be called on. It's not meant to pick on any one location over the other.
Barb said that some educators feel it takes the spontaneity out of the process, but you have to remember that you're referring to groups and not individuals. This method also helps guard against one or two people controlling the conversation.
Please share your tips
I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, feel free to give me any tips you have on video conferencing.
Updated Sept 9, 2011
I’m just sitting down on the day after my first multi-site video conference to look back at how things went. I mentioned I`d be doing one in an earlier post.
Overall, I feel my first video conference was a complete success.
It`s definitely more complicated than doing a webinar.
In a video conference, the site facilitators from all the sites link up about 30 minutes before the scheduled start time in order to iron out any technical difficulties that might arise.
In our case, there were two sites needing a little attention to get up and running, so there was plenty of time to do that. My site facilitator took care of all the issues and let me relax up until I went live. It really helped that she was a tech wizard and total pro.
We ended up starting right on time, and my session went exactly 90 minutes as requested.
I messed up
You might get a kick out of this… I did have one slip up.
There was a point where I’d explained the directions for an activity. I then (or so I thought) pressed the mute button. I turned to my facilitator and said, “Should that have been clearer?” She pursed her lips and gave me a pointing gesture, meaning YOU’RE MICROPHONE`S LIVE.
It wasn’t a big thing, but since I have plenty of experience with microphones, it shouldn’t have happened. At least I know I’m still human .
Anyway, it was a great, positive experience, and I can`t wait to do it again.