Let’s examine a common scenario… You plan to give a webinar presentation with another person, each of you taking some time as co-presenters. Is it better to be in the same room or in separate physical locations?
My preference is for the latter. But I recognize and want to go over the arguments for both approaches.
Presenters who prefer to stay with each other in a room typically like the following aspects:
- You can run the presentation from a single computer. There is no fumbling around as you try to pass presentation control back and forth from one person to another.
- It is easier to maintain energy when you can see someone listening as you speak.
- You can interact more naturally with your colleague, talking conversationally to each other. You can pick up nonverbal cues that tell you when they have finished a statement or need help with an answer.
- You can signal each other when looking at typed audience questions to decide which one to address next and who should take it.
- It is easier to reserve one quiet room in the office than to find two!
I like keeping the speakers separated for the following reasons:
- Sound quality is better when each person has his/her own microphone or telephone.
- Using separate computers and logins lets each speaker participate in typed chat and private messaging while the other person is presenting.
- It forces each speaker to concentrate on and connect with the audience rather than the co-presenter.
- It gives you equipment redundancy in the event of a computer or phone malfunction.
- It helps to eliminate background noises as the non-speaker shuffles papers, moves a chair, types, etc.
Looking over the five bullets on each side of the discussion, it seems to me that the majority of the arguments in favor of staying together are that it feels more familiar, natural, and convenient. Undoubtedly true! But sometimes in order to create a quality experience for the listener, presenters need to take on the burden of adapting to the needs of the medium.
TV presenters know to hold their hands up unnaturally high when gesturing to keep them in frame. Radio personalities learn how to maintain a vocal connection with their unseen audience. Webinar presenters can (and easily do) adapt to presenting with remote colleagues when given extra time to plan and rehearse the presentation before the live event. I help people through their unfamiliarity with this style all the time.
I simply have found over many different web events that people adapt much more readily than electronics do. I can help a person speak more naturally in “solitary confinement” with a little extra practice time and hints. But I can’t help a speakerphone transmit better sound when two people are hunched over a single computer, facing each other instead of the mike!
What do you think?