Pointers for Successful Webcasting

As of now, I have given two online webcasts, where I spoke into a phone or a microphone plugged into a PC, and clicked through a web version of a Powerpoint presentation. I’ve also listened to quite a few webcasts, either live or after-the-fact via podcasting.

Here are some pointers to think about when preparing for a live webcast:

I. Before the Webcast

Test EVERYTHING beforehand, preferably a day or two in advance, so you have time to make changes if needed. Here are some ideas of things you should check out:

  • webcast software – there are many different types in use, and all have different features. Make sure to test the system being used beforehand, so you know how everything works.
  • Your Powerpoint – if you plan to use a Powerpoint presentation, make sure to test it out within the webcast application. And remember – since there can be a lag between the time you click to the next screen and when the screen actually changes, you might want to cut back on the fancy animations and transitions – simple and functional is best.

Check, check, one two … test the microphone. You’ll either be speaking into a telephone or a microphone:

Telephone tips:

  • If your phone has an earbud/mic input, use it – that way, your hands are freed up, you don’t fade in and out or make extra distracting noise when you move the phone around, and you’re less likely to accidentally hang up in the middle of your most important point by pressing a button with your cheek.
  • Do you have access to a conference phone? If so, then use it for the same reasons as above.
  • No cell phones! The sound quality isn’t as clear as a “normal” phone.

Microphone tips:

  • Test the microphone beforehand to make sure it works. A good way to do that is to download Audacity (a free, open source sound editor), and record your voice through the microphone you plan to use, then listen back.
  • If possible, get your hands on a better microphone. I’m not asking you to spend $5000 on a studio-quality microphone, but … if you plan to do more than a couple of webcasts or plan to create podcasts, you might benefit from a better mic – try one of the newer USB-equipped large diaphram condenser microphones on the market right now (check them out at musiciansfriend.com). Or, get one step geekier, and purchase a basic podcasting system, coplete with mic and soundboard.
  • Make sure you’re not too close to the mic (icky distortion sound isn’t good) or too far away from the mic (echo and that “I’ve fallen into a well” sound aren’t good, either)..
  • Don’t move your head around! You don’t want your voice to fade in and out, do you?

II. During the Webcast: just a few pointers…

  • if you blog, send out your Powerpoint or handout BEFORE the presentation – like 10 minutes before. This gives attendees the option to print it out and take notes, if desired. It’s a nice touch.
  • Stay focused – it’s harder to stay focused and not ramble when you feel like you’re speaking to yourself. Force yourself to stay on topic.
  • Make sure you’re in a place with no distractions or interruptions – no pets, kids, or co-workers pounding on your door!
  • Speaking pickiness: watch those “ummms” and “aaahhhhhs” – they are magnified when people are listening to your voice alone. Practice this – when you feel the urge to say “um” – instead, just be quiet. It sounds so much better.
  • Interaction – most webcast applications incorporate some type of text chat. Make sure to use that to your advantage! Do you want to take a show of hands? Then do so – ask attendees to type 1 for no, 2 for yes, etc. It’s a good way to take a quick, informal poll.

III. After the webcast

  • Question time – remember that there are voice questions and typed chat questions – address both.
  • Provide your email, blog URL, etc for follow-up or more information.

Now – go out there and digitally WOW us!

Video Blogs make CNN

I talk about videoblogging once in awhile… thankfully, I’m not the only one! Check out this CNN article: Video blogs, ready for prime time.

It primarily focuses on Rocketboom’s recent ads, how video blogs are growing, and how iTunes and iPods have given video blogs a potential audience of 40 million viewers!

So anyway – read it and start thinking how video content might supplement other types of content on your website.

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SXSW in 2007?

Yes, THAT SXSW – the one in Austin with cool music. Did you know the annual conference also focuses on interactive technology? I didn’t until a few months ago.

If you want to learn more about building web 2.0 dealies for your websites – I’d suggest attending the conference next year. Take a peek at their speaker list for 2006 – pretty impressive!

BBC is Heading Towards Web 2.0!

From the Church of the Customer blog: “For information providers, it’s better to charge for access to the community you develop around your data, not the information itself.”

“That’s the approach the BBC is taking by announcing it will reformulate its web-based publishing model to embrace user-created content and reader communities. The news evangelists are getting an upgrade.”

The article goes on to say this: “Based on rampant evidence that an open model of content creation — in which content spurs content creation — can be strong generator of reach and influence, the BBC is smart to democratize its own online network of content.”

This is amazing, and hopefully it works – then (maybe) the US media will follow. Here’s more, from the Guardian: ” [at the BBC presentation on this change, the presenter] outlined a three-pronged approach to refocus all future BBC digital
output and services around three concepts – “share”, “find” and “play”. “

“He said the philosophy of “share” would be at the heart of what he dubbed bbc.co.uk 2.0. [emphasis mine, of course]”

I’ll leave you with one more juicy tidbit (go read both articles!): “The BBC is also running a competition to revamp the bbc.co.uk 2.0
website, asking the public to redesign the homepage to “exploit the
fuctionality and usability of services such as Flickr, YouTube,
Technorati and Wikipedia”. “

wow.

Great things ahead for library web and library technology!

In the last week or so, I’ve seen three pretty cool things:

  1. John Blyberg’s post about how to overcome the tech deficit
  2. Glenn Peterson’s new project, EngagedPatrons
  3. Sean Robinson’s project, the PayITForward web wiki

Blyberg always has good stuff to say – you should go read his post, and let it soak in. There are plenty of good ideas to be had there. And to me, the best thing he says is this:

“Look at where your patrons are spending their time, get a sense of what they want and need. It may be that your community is happy with what you’re doing, or it may be underwhelmed by what you’re not. As always, identifying what they want should drive spending, it shouldn’t be the other way around, where patrons are forced to use what we’ve spent money on.”

Glenn Peterson, web dude at Hennepin County Library, has started EngagedPatrons.org as a way to “provide website services connecting public libraries and their patrons.” Right now, EngagedPatrons is offering a variety of hosted services to libraries, including: Library events, library blogs, contact your library forms, RSS feeds, and custom web-enabled databases. Use the site’s handy contact us form for more info.

More from Glenn (via an email Glenn sent me – yes, Blyberg, you scooped me! Dang, I’m slow… :-)

“I’m offering to host website services for public libraries at my site and to assist libraries in customizing the services (via options I’ve built into each application) for their needs. Libraries will input data, about their upcoming events for example, using web forms I’ve built and the data will be stored in a database on my server. I’ll also assist libraries in storing the HTML for their site’s navigation in the database and integrate my code with the look and feel of the library’s own website. Libraries will link from their site to mine for the services they have chosen.The patron won’t know they are on my site – the pages I host will appear to be hosted at the library…”

Now on to Sean Robinson’s PayITForward project. From the wiki:

“This idea surfaced at the Ann Arbor Library Camp. Pay “IT” Forward.
There are lots of Public IT library professionals struggling to
implement technology. Sometimes the IT department at a library is made
up of one person. We have limited budgets and limited time. The
question was asked “What would happen if we shared our expertise with
each other?” This idea then grew to “What could I do?” “

I believe (Sean or someone else, correct me if I’m wrong) the idea is for library IT professionals to share their knowledge about whatever on the wiki. This way, library techies can start building a sense of larger community – and of course, get those techie projects done!

So – lots of extremely cool stuff related to library websites and library technology this week. Keep it up!