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Can Webinars Die Now

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Session Info

  • Session Name: Can Webinars Die Now?
  • Session Room & Timeslot: Room 4 @ 11am
  • Organizer: Tamao @ VMware - @mewzherder
  • Note taker: Meghan Gill, @meghanpgill, meghan@10gen.com

Key Discussion Topics


  1. Favorite Formats: Live coding vs. slides vs. facing
  2. Length of time: Most sessions are 45-60 minutes. What is the right length?
  3. Favorite platforms

Challenges of Webinars & Online Event

  • Constantly fall back on webinars because they are comfortable. Is there a better way?
  • If we're not looking at a face and it's just a bunch of slides, then we disengage. Too easy to start multi-tasking.
  • Boring powerpoints need to die!
    • There is no technology solution for a bad presentation
    • Use Prezi instead of slides to build interactive presentations (AB tested presos with prezis vs ppt - dramatic improvement in ratings using prezi)
    • Few words on the screen - black background with white words makes it look cooler
  • Start & stop, rewind and join live meeting again
  • Automatic translation needed. We use webinars to reach different audiences, but can they understand us?

Online Event Case Studies:

  • Example of live coding done very well:
    • ​Rob Connery (runs podcast called "This Developer's Life") @ Norweigan Developer's Conference
    • Did an hour long preso without saying a single word
    • Showed how awesome it is to code in node.js, doing live coding
    • At conference, people could put up red cards if they didn't like what you were doing. Got more red cards than anyone else in the first 10 monutes, and lots of people left.
    • 10-20 minutes into it, people started to understand what he was doing, and people starting swarming in!
  • Unconferences Online:
    • Dave shares stories of running CloudCamp Online
      • There are rarely prepared slides. Opportunities to discuss in different breakout rooms. This is a disaster online! Confusing enough in person :)
      • Different forum for an unconference that is single track so that you don't have to find different rooms, but prioritize different sessions based on popularity.
      • Used User Voice to let people propose questions and let people vote on them. Within a topic people could ask questions and we had a chat room.
      • 3 different tools - one to prioritize sessions, within a session asking / answering questions, backchannel chat.
      • Some tools (GoToWebinar) allow you to raise your hand, and open up an audio line to ask the question. Two hour event with 250 people.
    • FOSE.com (Tech/Gov't event):
      • ​Used InExpo conference software, but didn't have the raised hand functionality; more geared to the large expo event
      • Decided to do running commentary - Dave would read the questions and people could discuss in the chat as a "voice of God."
      • Started with 300, ended with 500.
      • Keep lots of interesting information fast, it will work.
  • Kevin participated in a Google Hangout for a JavaScript user group.
    • Filled up the 10 attendee Google Hangout limitation
    • Status updates and Q&A
    • How do you pick the 10 people?
    • Manage sessions and keep people engage?
    • Great alternative to the mailing list format.
    • Can screen share and share face, automatically records and can post to YouTube account.
  • Alfresco does a monthly tech talk lives using Hangouts on Air
    • 10 people can speak and use video, and it live streams on YouTube.
    • Limit the slides and make it very conversational. Jeff moderates to make it more interactive / ask questions.
    • Can embed the hangout on air on your webpage, and then it becomes a YouTube video.
    • Can edit via YT afterwards with some basic online editing features.
    • Can't do registration / lead capture using GH for live event or replay watching
      • Could hand out the slides after the fact
      • Register on Eventbrite page where you could learn more
  • Code Sprint: subject matter expert online using Google Hangout
  • Hangout with VMware to share Code for America brigades and tell them about the projects.
  • MongoDB Online Conference

Camera Resolution

  • Is a webcam sufficient? Do you need special equipment?
  • Not that expensive to get the equipment.
  • Online: https://plus.google.com/110701307803962595019/posts/PaeeynDx34L
  • As long as you have good lighting a $100 camera (or less) will do fine.
  • MacBooks worked fine for the Alfresco meetup.
  • Bandwidth is more critical - latency can cause problems. Be ethernet-ed.

Webcasting Tools Discussed

  • GoToMeeting: Video, audio, and slides. GoTo international numbers. May have compatability issues on Linux.
  • WebEx - when it works, it's awesome, but when it doesn't it is hellish. Audio cuts out, people can't connect. 30% failure rate. Not clear if you can do video.
  • Adobe Connect - O'Reilly uses it for their webinar, Hack for Egypt. Firewall issues with Webex and Ctiix don't exist with AC.
  • Google+ / G+ on air: limited to 10 people, but all can be online with video / audio, stream to a larger audience using on air. Hangouts are great for intimacy, not for huge events. Need a gmail account to use. Accessibility issues in China and in large corporations.
  • Glance.net
  • Join.me: a simple product and is web based only
  • Skype: latency is bad depending on the location. Need enterprise account to do multiple videos.
  • Google Talk
  • Justin.tv
  • LiveStream
  • uStream
  • Wacom: Tablet for live white boarding
  • Podcasts

Online Training

  • Blended learning environment: lead in activities to the presentation, pre-requisite exercises, come with a certain level of expertise (also helps with registration issue)
  • What if people don't come prepared?
  • Example: Start a beginner bootcamp where anyone was welcome, and that becomes a prereq for the more in-depth sessions

Random Tidbits

  • After meeting in person, people become commited to meeting online
  • License to broadcast in Germany to more than 15 people?!

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