9 Tips for Successfully Incorporating Virtual Presentations into Your Conference

February 16, 2012

Today I had the coolest experience. My colleagues at Idaho State University (ISU) Workforce Training were having an educational technology conference today in Pocatello. I teach for them online, but today’s conference was live — except for one presenter, me.

Here’s how we did it:

1. Brief your presenter on what to expect

Jeff Hough and the team at ISU gave me a thorough briefing about the conference a few weeks prior to the event. We negotiated the terms of the presentation and they gave me details on what to expect.

2. Tech-savvy conference organizers

These folks specialize in offering professional development webinars for educators. I’ve done dozens of webinars and used the same platform (in this case, Adobe Connect) that the conference organizers had on hand. They knew how to set up their system and had used their webinar platform hundreds of times before. They are adept at all kinds of technology and had significant experience successfully producing webinar presentations.

Sarah Elaine Eaton, virtual, presenter, webinar, education, professional development3. Experienced and energetic virtual presenter

Modesty aside, it is safe to say that I know how to give a virtual presentation. I have colleagues who flatline in a webinar environment because they “need the crowd to give them their energy”. At today’s conference, I never saw my audience. Well, not until after when one of my ISU colleagues, Paul Dickey, tweeted this photo (which I saw after the presentation).

Some of the worst virtual workshops or keynotes I have seen have been given by people who have no experience or webinar training. (In case you’re interested, here’s how you can get trained).

4. Previously presented material

Ensure the presentation has been tested. The conference organizers asked me to repeat a Twitter for Teachers workshop that I had taught for them previously. They had already seen the program delivered via webinar and liked it. The program had already proven to be a success.

Conference organizers want their attendees to have a stellar experience. Many things can go wrong with a virtual presentation. Make sure the presenter’s content is not one of them.

5. Do a connectivity test

Before the conference, we tested all the technology we were going to use – audio, video, slides and a real-time screen share. Hotels and conference centres are notorious for having poor wireless connections. The more people who tap into them, the slower they get. Virtual presentations chew up a lot of bandwidth. Even if your system works perfectly at the office, having a new venue changes the game. Every single piece of tech needs to get tested… and tested again.

As we prepared for today, we had some issues with the audio. We made some adjustments that helped significantly when the room was filled with a live audience.

6. Expect the unexpected

At one point during today’s session, we lost audio. Because we were all experienced working in a virtual environment and were aware of our audio problems during the connectivity test, it came as no surprise when the audio cut out. We were quickly able to work things through and I picked up where I had been cut off. Both the conference organizers and the presenter need to be able to keep their cool when “tech happens” in front of a room full of people.

Every person involved in today’s virtual program understood what aspects of the production we could control, such as our individual mics and computer settings and which we could not control, such as the venue’s wireless connection cutting out. Knowing what you can and can not control puts you in a better position to problem solve on the fly.

7. Include real-time interactivity

In my case, Jeff acted as a host for the session, introducing me and then fielding questions from the audience. At the beginning of the session, I said, “OK, let’s do a show of hands in the room. How many people use Twitter right now?”

Jeff acted as my eyes and ears and reported back to me, “There are crickets in the room, Sarah,” meaning that there was silence. He then added, “There are maybe four hands up.”

“O.K.,” I said. “That is less than 10% of the room. Let’s see if we can’t increase that by the end of the presentation…”

We stayed in constant contact throughout the session, talking back and forth, naturally and with a conversational tone.

8. Show, don’t tell

There is a certain amount of “telling” in an instructional program, but try to limit it as much as possible.

My presentation included a combination of static slides and a real-time screen share. I was showing folks how to use Twitter, so I demonstrated it live. Because Jeff also has a Twitter account, we were able to Tweet back and forth in real time and the participants could see it on screen.

The highlight for me as a presenter came when one participant signed for Twitter during the presentation and Tweeted “@DrSarahEaton“, as I had shown them how to do moments earlier.

I noticed it on my feed and said, “Hey, who’s that? Is that someone who’s in the conference room right now?”

Jeff asked the brand-new-baby-Tweeter to raise his or her hand. She did.

This was the single best moment for me as a virtual presenter. It was completely unrehearsed and unexpected. We had no idea anyone was going to sign up for Twitter right then and there and start putting the content into action at that very moment.

It caught the attention of every single person in the room and suddenly, it all made sense. What I had been saying about educators being able to connect in real time from all over the world, was no longer something I said, it was something we were able to actually show them. It was the coolest thing.

After that, a few other people joined in and sent Tweets, too.

Jimeny Cricket may have talked, but these crickets Tweeted! It was brilliant.

9. Give participants a valuable handout

Participants did not get a copy of my presentation slides. (Bor-ing!) Instead, every participant received a copy of the Twitter for Teachers manual that I did to accompany the course. It is a 25-page, step-by-step how to guide that steps them through the exact processes I showed during the presentation, in exactly the same order. Well, except for the spontaneous moments that made the session come alive.

The technical aspects of a virtual presentation increase your risk of failure significantly. Just about anything can go wrong. Even with all the preparation in the world, the potential for unexpected screw ups can still happen. Lots of preparation helps to mitigate that risk. Having an experienced team who have worked together before also helps tremendously.

You know when a virtual presentation has been truly successful because the webinar technology becomes “invisible”. When participants are so into the experience that they almost forget their presenter is hundreds, if not thousands of miles away and their sense of distance has melted away, you know you’ve just incorporated a great virtual presentation into your conference.

A personal thanks from me to all the folks at ISU Workforce Training. As any experienced virtual presenter knows, those work on the production team are the real stars of the show.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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Scribd for Teachers: How to Publish and Share Your Documents Online

February 7, 2012

Today’s webinar, offered through ISU Workforce Training, was, Scribd for Educators and Trainers: How to share your own documents, writing and resources on line.

Scribd is the world’s largest online social reading and publishing site. Anyone can join. You can read others work and contribute your own materials, too. Well known writers and thought leaders such as Seth Godin and major publishing houses such as Simon & Schuster have Scribd accounts.

Whether it’s the novel you’ve always wanted to publish or a grading rubric for a science project you’ve developed, you can share your work with others who are keen to learn from you.

Here is what the webinar covered:

  1. Learn the basics of how to set up a Scribd account. It’s easy and it’s free.
  2. Learn how to upload documents. Get tips on what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Learn how to categorize your documents appropriately for maximum exposure.
  4. Learn how to make your documents freely shareable or restrict the reader’s ability to copy and paste your work.

I told the participants that “by the end of this webinar, you will have knowledge that you can apply immediately to set up your own account and start sharing your work.”

Here is the manual that I shared with today’s participants:

View this document on Scribd

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Resource: Harry Potter in Translation: Making Language Learning Magical

February 1, 2012

Recently I did a virtual presentation for Idaho State University on how to use Harry Potter in translation to teach international languages. The presentation highlighted the Harry Potter in Translation project at the University of Calgary’s Language Research Centre.

The materials I prepared for the presentation included 5 lesson plans on how to use Harry Potter in translation in language classes.

You can check out the lesson plans here:

View this document on Scribd

You can see it in full-screen mode on Scribd here.

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Share or Tweet this post: Resource: Harry Potter in Translation: Making Language Learning Magical http://wp.me/pNAh3-1d4

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Webinar: Harry Potter in Translation: Make language learning magical

January 18, 2012

Harry Potter in Translation by Sarah Elaine EatonDid you know that the Harry Potter books have been translated into more than 70 languages? A project through the Language Research Centre brought together dozens of native speakers who recorded a portion of the first Harry Potter book. These recordings are available free of charge for language teachers and students everywhere.

In this professional development webinar for educators, presented by ISU Workforce Training, you get an introduction to the Harry Potter in translation project at the University of Calgary’s Language Research Centre. You also get ideas on how to use this free service in your own language classes.

This program includes 5 lesson plans for teachers to help them use Harry Potter as a teaching tool for second languages.

Make your language class magical by using Harry Potter in translation!

Webinar date: January 19, 2011

Webinar time: 4:00 p.m. MST

Register here.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


New PD webinar: Twitter for Teachers

January 11, 2012

I’m teaching a new professional development webinar through ISU Workforce Training next week:

Twitter for Teachers

Twitter is a hot tech tool for teachers. But how can you, as an educational or training professional, use Twitter in an effective and efficient way that helps you

Objectives:

  1. Learn how to use Twitter in a meaningful and strategic way. There is no point in having a Twitter account “just because”. Learn how to develop your own personal vision about what Twitter means to you and why.
  2. Learn how to manage your time on Twitter effectively. There’s no question that social media can be time consuming. In this session we’ll talk about ways to minimize the time you spend on Twitter while still using it to its fullest potential.
  3. Bust the myth that you need more followers. You don’t need more followers. You want more engaged followers. Learn what it means to have an engaged following and how to develop one.

Here’s a downloadable one-sheet flyer for the program:

View this document on Scribd

This course is open to educators globally. Teachers in the U.S. may be eligible to earn continuing professional development credit for taking ISU’s webinars.

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Share or Tweet this post: New PD webinar: Twitter for Teachers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1ab

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Today’s Webinar: How To Use Google Forms

December 7, 2011

Google Forms for Educators

How to Build, Design and Use Google Forms

Learn how to build, design and use Google forms for educational contexts such as:

  • registration forms for events
  • sign-up forms for volunteers
  • sign-up forms for intramurals
  • program evaluation
  • any other uses you can think of

This one-hour “how to” session goes step by step to show you everything you need to know. By the end of this session you should be ready to build your own forms with ease. In case you need a refresher, this program includes a take-home manual in .pdf format so you can easily remember the steps later on when you need them.

Here’s what past participants of this program have said:

“I learned so much in an hour. I very much appreciate the quality of the presenter.  Thanks!” – Susan Sanders, UMKC, Kansas City, USA

“This webinar is well-paced and gives an good grounding in the use of Google Forms. Sarah knows her subject and handles questions with grace and confidence.” Sue Goodrich, University of Southern Maine, East Boothay, Maine, USA

“Sarah possesses an invaluable combination of skills—a great mastery of content, the ability to make that knowledge understandable and useful to others, and an engaging, interactive and well-paced delivery.” – Barbara Lindsey, University of Connecticut, Connecticut, USA

Enrollees will receive a free e-Textbook.

Register here.

If you can’t make the live program, you can also check out the recording.

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Share this post: Today’s Webinar: How To Use Google Forms http://wp.me/pNAh3-14r

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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