It’s a bit like the difference between conducting a huge, amateur symphony orchestra and beating time for someone playing twinkle twinkle little star on a recorder.
Conducting music is similar to hosting a Webinar in some ways.
Especially when starting out hosting Webinars, keeping everything as simple as possible will help your confidence and therefore the effectiveness of the event.
This was brought home to me in a dramatic way some years ago. The CEO of the organisation I was working for at the time was going to make a major speech to the whole staff who were located in several different locations.
It was, therefore, a very complex technical set up. Alongside the live, face-to-face auditorium, the event was to be broadcast via Webinar software to two other sites plus remote workers at home. The presentation needed to be shared and sound had to be set up to allow two-way conversations between all locations.
In the auditorium, the sound was broadcast via loudspeakers and the PA system was piped through a soundboard into a laptop for the Webinar sound.
Hand-held microphones were in use in all locations for audience questions to the CEO which had to come via the Webinar from remote locations and be heard in the auditorium.
We spent a long time setting up and testing and it was all working very well after a lot of tweaking.
I the initial set up of the Webinar, I forgot to switch off the alert sound alert when people joined the session. So, all through CEO’s speech, the alert sound was broadcast to everyone – it sounded like a really loud doorbell.
The set up was so complicated, I didn’t know what wires I could pull out without ruining the whole event. I remember getting more and more stressed as the alert went off again and again. The CEO did really well to ignore it but it was rather embarrassing as this was a very serious speech about future of the organisation.
What was the answer?
I thought really carefully and suddenly it dawned on me that I didn’t need the sound feed from the other venues and people at home during the speech – this was what was being broadcast from my laptop out to the PA system in the auditorium. So I could simply pull out out feed from laptop to the PA system and cut the sound which we didn’t need. I tried it out and it worked! I was hugely relieved but it was to late to avoid the CEO’s speech being interrupted many times.
When I needed the audio feed from the remote venues, I simply put the lead back in place – and all was well as it didn’t matter if we heard the joining sound during the questions and answers.
What did I learn?
So I learned the hard way from this experience that I needed to be really clear how everything fits together – maybe draw a diagram so if things go wrong I had a definite way of working out a plan to fix the problem.
It’s all about preparation and planning for all eventualities. It’s not always possible to practise in the venue and real Webinar situation but the more time spent on preparation, the better prepared we all are for potential problems…
…and if we can simplify the whole set up, even better!