This past week the Greater Midwest Chapter of PCMA (GMCPCMA) held a hybrid meeting for it’s members.  I was honored to accept an invitation, by chapter leadership to assist, as a technical advisor, and “tech moderator,” for the event.

Hybrid Event Defined

Midori Connoly (Producer) & Sonic Foundry Team

A hybrid event is a meeting containing both “F2F” and “virtual” audiences networking together, using some form of online technology.  For more information please refer to a past article I published, explaining the basics of hybrid events.

GMCPCMA’s  expansive membership is comprised of individuals located across seven states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota). Many of the 1,200 members struggle to attend the educational events in person. (They occur quarterly in the Chicago area)

In 2009, the chapter adopted the hybrid event format to allow online access, for those individuals unable to physically attend GMCPCMA’s events. To date, the chapter has successfully executed five such meetings, (one per year) including the one which occurred this week.

Introducing the Tech Moderator

One of my early “Ah Hah” moments, with hybrid events, was recognizing the value of a webcast “tech moderator.”  In simple terms a tech moderator is a webcast host.  This person serves as the communication bridge between the speaker/facilitator(s), remote (virtual) and F2F participants.

The moderator’s primary mission is to help connect all participants with one another.  Done effectively a higher level of attendee engagement will be achieved, contributing to the success of the event.

“To have a tech moderator in-room at a hybrid meeting is to give the remote audience a physical presence in the room … good event design means you create a participative experience that has meaning for each individual. And in order to do that, they need to use their eyes, ears…and voice. With the live stream of an event, the remote participant has the eyes and ears, but really no voice … Using a tech moderator gives them the voice they need.”  Midori Connolly, AVGirl Productions

Many hybrid events include an interactive back channel, where remote and f2f participants converse with one another.  Most typically Twitter has been the technology platform for those discussions.  While not impossible, many speakers/facilitators have difficulty simultaneously monitoring the conversation occurring in the back channel, while attending to the F2F audience.  The Tech moderator assists  the speaker/facilitator with that process.

Five Valuable Roles of a Tech Moderator

Here are some examples of how a tech moderator will contribute to the success of a hybrid meeting:

Me, in Tech Moderator Mode

Role #1:  Pre-Event Introduction — much like a pre-game show for a sporting event, the tech moderator will “tee up” the experience for remote attendees.  This can be done with an “on camera” live discussion or by an “audio only” briefing.

In addition to making remote participants feel welcome the moderator will recap important webcast information, such as the event Hashtag, or providing instructions for submitting questions and comments.

Role #2:  Virtual Tour of Event — If a mobile camera is available, the moderator can take the remote participants on a tour of the event space.  Alternatively the moderator can post photographs.  Examples of pictures are meeting room, stage, production team, food and beverage displays, event signage, sponsors, and event attendees.

Role #3:  Fielding Questions/Comments — One of the most important aspects of a webcast is acknowledging and fielding questions/comments from the remote audience.  Using “voice of god” concept the moderator will communicate the questions/comments within the live webcast.

This really helps to engage the remote attendees, adding value to their event experience.  An added bonus is the moderator may also channel questions from the F2F audience, eliminating the need for microphone runners in the meeting room.

Role #4:  Event Awareness — Sometimes there may be things occuring in the meeting room that may not be possible to broadcast on the webcast.   The tech moderator can function as a commentator, providing an account of those occurrences, or even posting pictures.

Role #5:  Webcast Troubleshooting – in a well produced webcast there will be technical personnel monitoring the actual webcast to troubleshoot technical challenges.  The tech moderator can also assist with that process by checking in with the remote participants to ensure that their webcast experience is running smoothly.

I am interested in hearing about some of your ideas regarding hybrid events.  What discoveries have you made in your journey experimenting with this event format?  Please share them with us!

 

Follow Michael McCurry on Twitter

{ 7 comments }

Why F2F Customer Conferences Are Indispensable!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is your organization struggling, or worried about the relevance of their conference content? If your organization leadership is struggling to justify holding their conference, this is an opportunity for you to educate them on the reasons why it is important to meet. Here are just a few compelling reasons why a conference is critical to sustaining the perceived value of your organization to its customers.

5 comments Read the full article →

Two Critical Ways to Achieve Health and Wellness Success!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Are you one of those people (like many) that make a list of resolutions at the beginning of each new year? One challenging area for many people is personal fitness. I have certainly struggled, over the years, to find some balance in this arena.

17 comments Read the full article →

Ode to a Blog Sabbatical: Sharpening the Saw!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

If you have been a frequent visitor to McCurry’s Corner in the past, then you already know I have not written a new blog post in quite some time. What led to this extended absence from blogging? Quite simply I needed a break. Similar to a computer, I needed a reboot, some time to reflect and re-energize myself.

10 comments Read the full article →

3 Reasons to Hire a Virtual Host for Your Next Hybrid Meeting or Event

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I am fascinated by the evolution of technology and development of “next practices” (rather than best practices) that follows it. In the Hybrid meeting space, one of the innovations that has bubbled to the surface has been the use of Virtual Hosts. (or Virtual Emcees)

If your organization has taken the plunge into the hybrid meetings realm, you really should strongly consider adding a virtual host/emcee to the program. While this support is going to impact your meeting budget, it is money well spent as the payoff will be attendee satisfaction and new customers.

6 comments Read the full article →

Joplin Disaster: Online Community Works Powerfully to Help Recovery

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tweet It is both frightening and amazing to reflect on the magnitude of natural weather disasters which have occurred across the globe over this past year.  Collectively, these extreme weather events put into perspective the power of mother nature, and our relative inadequacy, as human beings, to predict, or prepare for them. Joplin disaster:  Hitting […]

6 comments Read the full article →

Best Practices Vs. Next Practices: Are You Looking Forward or Backward?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Clearly, we are all doing business differently than we did a few years ago. The economic climate, combined with continuously developing technology, and the impact of social media have opened the floodgates of innovation. One sure way to draw attention to your business is to find new and game-changing ways of delivering business value to your customers and prospects. There is risk associated with trying new things, but the ultimate payoff could be huge.

28 comments Read the full article →

Crafting A Winning Social Technology Strategy For Your Event!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Using Social Technology, with a focused strategy, will assist your organization in effectively engaging its conference attendees well in advance of the event. The time invested, by your organization, in learning about its customers online habits, is the “payoff pitch” to a winning event experience, and greater customer loyalty.

4 comments Read the full article →

McCormick Place Labor Reform: Carpenters Union Joins the Conversation

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tweet Last week I published an article providing updated information regarding the ongoing Labor Reform challenges at McCormick Place (and Navy Pier) in Chicago.  Surprisingly (to me at least) the blog article sparked significant interest across the industry as it has received more than 700 click-throughs (hits).  (425 on Monday alone) My blog post apparently […]

1 comment Read the full article →

Eight Ways to Use QR Codes to Create More Engaging Events

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

With all the buzz going around about QR codes and creating more engagement at events, it’s no surprise that people like Mike McCurry are looking for more ideas on how to use them. He offered me this opportunity to guest post after I mentioned a QR scavenger hunt in a previous post he wrote.

1 comment Read the full article →

Chicago’s McCormick Place (MPEA) Takes Hit from Unions Legal Challenge

Monday, April 18, 2011

On March 31, a US District Court Judge, Ronald Guzman, ruled on parallel cases filed by Teamsters Local 727 and by the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters. The court’s judgement overturns some key pieces of the labor reform enacted in May.

21 comments Read the full article →