As part of the prep leading up to the first day of the big event, I have requested that each of the CMEpalooza presenters go through a quick Google+ Hangout training session with me, just to try and work out any potential glitches. I have done seven of them so far and have learned a few important lessons:
- After trying a variety of techniques, I have decided that the easiest way to communicate the Hangout location to the presenters is to simply email a direct link to them. As much as I despise email, it’s the one form of electronic communication that most people, regardless of how tech savvy they are, seem capable of handling without assistance. I realized fairly quickly that asking each presenter to go to their individual Google+ page and wait for a Hangout invitation to come wasn’t going to cut it. Too confusing. But, I can get a Hangout started, email the presenter(s) the link and all they have to do is click the link and they’re automatically directed to the Hangout. Thus far, this technique has been working reasonably well (side note: it works even better if you email your presenter the correct link, a lesson I learned the hard way…)
- Continuing with the “Google+ pages are confusing” theme, I’m having second thoughts about having the CMEpalooza Google+ page as the main place for participants to watch the live presentations. Now that I’ve had a little more experience with it, I’m concerned that the Google+ experience/environment might be a little too disconcerting for those who are new to it (which I’ll guess will be the large majority of the “audience”). I’m now leaning towards adding a page to the CMEpalooza website – call is “CMEpalooza Live”, maybe? – and embedding the live video directly on it. When one session ends and the next one is preparing to start, I delete out the old video from the “CMEpalooza Live” page and add the new one. That way, participants can stay on the same page and only have one thing to look at on that page. They only need to refresh their screen to see the next live presentation. Participants will still be able to watch via the Google+ page if they prefer – they’re available there automatically.
- It is a good system, but not a perfect system. The video and/or audio quality can waver depending on the presenter’s computer or webcam or internet connection or headphones or any number of other factors. However, my goal for CMEpalooza is not to be perfect. I’d be happy with “pretty good” and satisfied with “not bad”. Just because a presenter’s audio isn’t perfectly synched with their video doesn’t mean they can’t be learned from. And as I keep reminding myself, no one has paid anything for this, including me, so I can live with a little imperfection.
- I am now 99% sure that I can actually pull this off. That’s pretty good considering I was at about 50% when I first started.