Lessons learned


Yesterday got me thinking about the use of the word “Virtual” and, in particular, with presentations given by using remote tools. I wrote, and still maintain, that the word “Virtual” plays down the extra and hard work that goes into these.

Remote teaching and presentations have become the norm for us during these times. Now, don’t get me wrong here; there is nothing like getting together with old and new friends for dinner or a drink at the end of the learning day. That will always be a special event.

And yet, I can’t help but think that are a lot of lessons to be learned from teaching and presenting online that need to be carried over to the time when we can indeed get back together in the same time and in the same location for learning.

Maybe we can reinvent the face to face conference by looking at best practices and shoving some of the old ways to the past. Here are a few that come to mind here.

Starting and finishing on time
We’ve all been there. You show up on time for a presentation and the presenter isn’t ready to go at the start time. Or, the moderator says “We’ll wait for five minutes in case more are coming”. It’s aggravating especially since you put in the effort to be there on time. Or, it’s the session before lunch and the presenter just keeps on going and you don’t want to get up and leave the session. Online moderators tend to be pretty good about making sure that things start and finish at the same time.

Not waiting for the previous presenter to shut down and get out of the road
If you’ve ever been a presenter in a session at other than the first time of day, there’s a real chance that you’ve had the experience of having to wait for the previous presenter to finish if they’re going long, or they get ganged up on by others who want to ask personal questions, or maybe they have material spread all over your presentation space that needs to be taken down before you get started. Insult to injury happens when they ask you for assistance!

People standing up to take pictures of a slide
It never happened until those smart phones came along. In the good old days, people would take notes during presentations. It’s not uncommon now when you have a particularly powerful slide in your presentation for people to stand up and take a picture of it for their records. If you’re broadcasting your slidedeck, people can just do a screen capture of your best content.

Links to presentation
This always happens. Good and savvy presenters know enough to use a URL shortener and put it on the first or the last slide of a presentation or perhaps even on every slide. But, let’s face it; we all have been in sessions where none of that happens. Even worse is getting the URL but making a mistake in recording it. When you’re presenting online, it’s a snap to put a link to the presentation in the chat box.

Is this being recorded?
This is often a financial thing. We’ve become accustomed to knowing that the keynote address will often be recorded and made available afterwards. Or, some of the featured sessions will have that attention. The best one for me was when the CSTA conference was held at Google in Mountainview and the YouTube team was there and recorded all the sessions. When you’re presenting online, the host or even you can record anything that’s available.

Clickers that don’t work
This has to have caught everyone. You have a remote device to control your slide deck or one is provided for you. When it works, it works well. When it doesn’t work, it’s embarrassing and a real problem for the presenter who is now tethered to their computer. This all goes away when you’re presenting electronically over a connection since you have full access to your keyboard and your mouse and any other tool.

Environmental problems
I’ll bet that we all have this experience. You’re in a room that’s way too warm or way too cold and there’s nothing that you can do about it except complain. Big convention centres often have the air conditioning nicely turned on just in case you get 40 degree weather. It’s in anticipation of a large amount of heat emitting bodies in seats. If that happens, boy can it can cold. Online, everyone is in control of their own creature comforts.

Costs
Of course, this one is obvious. Driving or flying somewhere to be in attendance at a physical setting can be expensive. Particularly these days with gas as high at 1:59.9 around here. Then, you need to factor in hotel rooms and meals. It gets pretty pricy in a hurry.

Collaborative document
A terrific technique often falls apart in implementation. It’s a wonderful technique to have a collaborative document open during a presentation to get people to contribute ideas or questions on the fly. It’s often a challenge to actually work much like the sharing of URLs can be. The solution is just as simple. Put a URL in the chat window or just go ahead and use the chat window as a discussion place. It beats those two people talking behind you.

I’m sure that there are lots of other reasons that might run through your mind as features and not problems with online or remote presentations. Got one? How about dropping it off in the comments below.

OTR Links 10/28/2021


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