I tuned into one of the EventCamps recently because I love them and the people who organize them. Because I couldn’t be there in person, I joined the virtual audience.
Unfortunately, I discovered that I’m a really crappy virtual attendee, and I’m not too embarrassed to tell you why:
- I have a bad attitude. I hate giving up my weekend for business because I like to keep work at work. Having an 18-month-old at home also means that on Saturday and Sundays I have a lot more important work to do than my day job-type stuff.
- I am an insufferable know-it all. I get really cranky when I give up my time to join a session and feel like I’m not learning anything new. I especially hate discussions where I feel like I’m hearing the same things over and over again. I don’t want to tackle topics I saw trending in 2009, I’m ready to move on!
- I am an ADHD-riddled donkey. If there’s a group document and there are blanks to fill in collaboratively, you can guarantee I’ll fill in those blanks before the speaker gets to those sections rather than listen to what’s going on. And then if I get booted out for being precocious (or tech glitches), I’ll go clean the house or something and not participate at all.
- I have little to no patience. When the expectation is that I’m going to be engaged, I will get really petulant if I’m not. For example, if you have a facilitated session, have the speaker address the camera and ask the virtual audience questions. Then read out what they answer in a few minutes so we know you really care. There were a couple of “come on virtual audience engage with us” tweets, but no video moderator or even a person on the side reading our comments to the live audience so that we felt like we were connected to or embraced by the live group in any meaningful way.
- I’m extremely vocal. If I don’t like something, I’ll let you know, using all your media channels.
But my weaknesses can become your strengths. Next time you’re planning a virtual or hybrid event, assume that your all your attendees will be jerks like me.
How will you engage them? How will you keep them engaged? How will you coach your speakers to include the virtual audience during presentations? How will you moderate the online discussion and tie it into the in-room discussion? When there are breakout discussions during your live broadcast, how will you fill the dead space? (Will the speaker just address the camera and read tweets? Will there be a video moderator that swoops in to engage them? Will there be a special interview broadcast that the live audience doesn’t see?)
Think about the potential pitfalls and the virtual Easter eggs you can embed into your event that will make it more interesting.
And then invite me to come and play, because I want to be a good attendee … really I do!