Loyal blog reader Frank wrote in with an interesting question about managing typed chat or questions from attendees. He wanted to know if I could name a web conferencing platform or aftermarket app that lets a webinar presenter or moderator filter the chat stream in real time during a webinar to show only the comments from a single attendee. Failing that, maybe the software could highlight a user's comments in a color for more quickly and easily locating them in the message log.
I can't think of a technology that allows this functionality. If you only work with small audiences or your webinars have limited interactivity you might not see the value of such a feature. I moderate large webinars for my clients all the time, and as soon as Frank asked the question I slapped my forehead and said "Of course! We need that!"
A moderated or private chat/Q&A stream (where attendees don't see what other attendees type) makes each attendee feel that their inputs are the only conversation taking place. They often reference past comments or add information to a previous question. This can get confusing and difficult to follow as a moderator when you have hundreds of comments coming in. Your chat log can look like this:
Andy A: How much is it?
Dorene D: I'm having trouble hearing clear audio.
Clarence C: This is great stuff!
Belinda B: The answer is 13
Felicity F: The answer is 13
Harry H: The answer is 14
Irene I: The answer is 13
Andy A: I mean the widget option.
Clarence C: Keep it coming
Harry H: I meant 13
Dorene D: Can you help me?
Imagine dozens of additional comments strung in the middle of that and past comments scrolled off the screen. When you see "Can you help me?" how fast can you go back and find what the problem was? When you see "I mean the widget option" how easy is it to find what Andy was referring to? Being able to focus on consecutive messages from a single user would be a huge help. Once you get the context, you can go back to looking at the full raw feed.
This is different from running post-webinar reports. Moderators need the filtering capabilities while the webinar is running, with an easy interface for switching between unfiltered view and comments from any given participant.
I would love to see this capability added to a webinar product. If you are a vendor and already allow this functionality, please add a comment to let us all know about it.
You can find additional ideas about Managing Webinar Chat in a post I wrote several years ago (http://j.mp/twbchat). This is still a feature area with vast differences in implementation and functionality from vendor to vendor.
Thanks for the idea, Frank!