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Adventures in Webinar Presentations

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Over the past several years, I have given 2-3 live web presentations a year, and I have always found them to be an adventure. In other words, there always seems to be one problem or another.

Sometimes the meeting software used is not very cooperative, connection speeds vary (or drop), recordings don’t record as expected, and many more. In a webinar I gave today, my laptop froze just seconds before I was to give my presentation, which caused a sudden rise in my blood pressure. In the end, everything worked out, and my session on “How to Become an Exceptional DBA” had just over 700 people during peak attendance.

You can view my “How to Become an Exceptional DBA” webinar here, along with several others that have been sponsored this week by Pragmatic Works, Wrox Press, and SQLServerCentral.com.

When you are giving a live web-based presentation, the meeting software provides a counter that tells you how many people are currently attending your session. It is always interesting to see this number grow quickly just before the meeting begins, and then jumps up and down throughout the presentation as people enter the session late, or decide that this session is just not right for them, and they decide to do something else instead. And of course, at the end of the presentation, the attendee numbers plummet faster than the stock market on a bad day.

The hardest part of giving a live web presentation is that you don’t get any feedback from your audience. While web meeting software tries to give you some visual indicators of audience attention, and attendees usually have the opportunity to ask questions via a chat box, I am generally too occupied giving my presentation to pay attention to these. Instead, a moderator usually takes the questions, picks out the best ones, and then asks them during a Q&A session at the end of the presentation. So unlike speaking to a live audience, I am just staring at a screen, talking to myself. Not having visual feedback is tough, because I can’t tell if my audience is bored or interested. I also can’t tell if I am covering the material too fast, or not fast enough. So, in the end, I just have to guess about the audience’s reaction, and hope that I make the right guess.

The more web presentations I do, the better I am getting at them, and in fact, I will be doing quite a few this year. My next presentation is on Thursday, February 25, 2010, at 11:30 AM CST, and I will be doing an introductory session on how to read SQL Server graphical execution plans. If you want to attend this free session, you can sign up here. If you can’t make the session, it will be recorded and you can view it later at you own convenience at SQLLunch.com.

Comments

Posted by Steve Jones on 24 February 2010

I tend to agree with you. It's harder, and the lack of feedback makes it strange to me. I  like the audience interaction, and prefer live presentations.

Andy and Jack, in Orlando, have set up a camera for the room so that the presenter can see the audience remotely. That's an interesting idea.

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