Monday, November 16, 2009

Irony, Thy Name Is Webinar!

Last Thursday evening, while wearing my WebWorks hat, I was happy to deliver a presentation to the fine folks from the North East Ohio chapter of the STC. The title of my presentation was “Why Publishing Is No Longer The Last Step.”

If you scroll through the slides in the embedded copy of the presentation below, you can see that the main theme I was talking about was feedback and how we should both encourage and embrace user participation in the publication process. In fact one of the points I was making was that feedback, user participation and collaborative authoring, while they may all be current buzz words, aren’t anything new. They have been a part of the publishing process for as long as we have been telling stories. It’s just that the technology has changed. In fact it could be argued that modern technology is an enabler that allows us to capture and process feedback even quicker.


When I got home my wife asked how the webinar had gone, and I had to admit that I wasn’t 100% sure. The reason for my lack of certainty? Missing feedback.

Yes a few people had asked questions, and I had received a nice round of applause at the end of my presentation, but delivering the presentation over a combination of WebEx and phone meant I had no visual feedback. I didn’t now if silence meant that people were enthralled, bored, or had all snuck off to the pub!

Anyone who has seen me present will know I like to walk around. I talk with my hands a lot, gesticulate, point. I also like to try and engage the audience, ask questions, crack stupid jokes and make the occasional pun. But perhaps the biggest part of presenting for me, and the main reason I enjoy doing it, is being able to interact and engage with individuals in the audience.

Visual communication and body language provide essential feedback, and in this instance using enabling technology robbed the experience of one of its most vital layers of communication.

Virtual meeting tools and conference calls can be great cost savers and allow events to happen that otherwise might not occur – but even in today’s social network obsessed, web driven world, nothing beats being face to face with a real live person.

Technology should enable conversation, not get in its way.

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