In the past few years, I have seen more webinar vendors add a "simulive" capability to their products. Yes, that's a terrible word, but we're already dealing with a technology referred to by smashing together linguistic roots improperly, so why not one more?
The idea is to hold a live webinar using recorded content for the main presentation. Once the recorded content stops playing, you can move to live Q&A with attendees. The host and presenter feel more comfortable because they can do multiple takes if necessary, and they know the presentation will come in on time. There isn't the same psychological fear of stumbling for words in front of a live audience.
I most often see the technology vendors recommend using this functionality as a way to "fool" audiences into thinking they are hearing a live presenter. I am not a fan of that approach. You are setting yourself up for the disaster of a "Milli Vanilli moment" (look it up, kids).
But simulive offers an opportunity for a different value-add that none of my clients have taken advantage of so far. Why not announce that the main presentation is prerecorded for quality control, but that the presenter will be answering questions in real time while the presentation is playing? This combines the "back channel" live interaction feature of text messaging with the real-time interests of the audience. Instead of having to wait for a cramped ten minutes of Q&A at the end of the session, the actual expert can provide additional details and make clarifications while still talking to the audience! That's something you can't do in an auditorium setting.
I feel this would be a great incentive to attend live for many people. It's like watching a movie and having an interactive chat with the director at the same time!
You could elect to run your chat/Q&A in your choice of styles, dependent on what capabilities your webinar software offers:
- You could have an open, public chat session (emulating Twitter and other public streams) where everyone sees what everyone else types.
- You could keep the chat private so that only the presentation team sees questions from attendees. Answers can be addressed to each individual questioner.
- My favorite version allows a hybrid mode where questions come in privately, but the presenter/moderator can promote selected ones to public so the question and the answer is seen by all.
If you have run an event in this manner, it would be great if you added a comment letting us know about the experience. Did attendees complain about the extra chat channel being distracting? Did the presenter seem to enjoy the process, or find it exhausting? Did you choose public or private mode for questions? Did you promote the format and use it as an incentive to draw live attendance?
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