One of our goals for oPASS in 2010 is to host 12 meetings instead of our usual 6. That doubles the pressure to find speakers of course, so we’re going to try to use Livemeeting to compensate and see what happens. We would still prefer to have all our speakers in person, but at least we have a way to have a speaker each month.
Most groups do either an in person meeting or a Livemeeting, but we’re going to do try both this month. We have an in person speaker doing a 15 minute presentation first, and then Andy Leonard will be our “featured” presenter via LiveMeeting. We’ll have people watching remotely, and people watching live in our meeting room.
As a speaker presenting via LM is hard because you don’t get the cues you get when you’re in the room, and you certainly don’t get the networking time that comes from the before and after conversation that is such a great part of user group meetings. We’re going to try to fix part of that by having a camera in the meeting room that lets the speaker see and hear (if they want) the audience. Jack Corbett came by last night so we could do a test run and as expected, there were some challenges!
We’re going to use one machine as the source for the camera (and maybe audio), and a separate machine for the moderator, and presenters will use their own laptops. I purchased a new MS HD cam for this effort, but while it’s a nice cam, it doesn’t appear to deliver a lot better quality than the one on my laptop. What it does have is a very nice mounting bracket, flexes but holds it’s shape, and it’s light weight enough that we can do ad hoc mounting using blue tape – see the picture of it mounted below!
The biggest problem we had was audio feedback from the speakers we’re using to let the attendees in the room hear the presentation while watching (standard overhead projector and screen). We moved the camera with it’s integrated microphone here and there, adjusted volume, moved the speakers, even at one point tried shielding the speakers with a trash can lid (we were getting tired). What finally turned out to work was using a bluetooth headset instead of the integrated microphone. Hanging it from the blue tape next to the camera we could just hear things from the back of the room, about 20 feet back, but it’s portable, so we can just walk it over for specific questions.
Maybe there is a better/more sophisticated way, but I think this will be enough for a few real tests to see if it helps the speakers or just proves to be a distraction.
If you would like to attend virtually you can join us January 12, 2010 from 6 – 8 pm at https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/mvp/join?id=OPASS&role=attend&pw=OPASS. More details soon at www.opass.org.