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Videoconference bleg

May 5th, 2008

You can see how desperate I am for help by the use of the second word in the title of this post, which I’ve resisted until now.

I have offered to present a talk to a large conference audience in Adelaide, and intended to do it by videoconference, following several successful (and cheap!) presentations to seminar-size groups. But the conference of organizers have been quoted a cost of thousands of dollars to present the videoconference session. There are some obvious cheap alternatives like a pre-record, but I’d like to avoid these if possible. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could deliver a videoconference presentation, at reasonable cost to a large audience in a venue that isn’t specifically set up for this?

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  1. May 5th, 2008 at 16:40 | #1

    Well with a laptop and data projector at the Adelaide end you could just use one of the free instant messaging applications like MSN. The live video quality will be pretty awful on the big screen but voice should be fine and you can maybe get an assistant at the remote location to show any slides you want and toggle between them and your webcam picture at your verbal prompt.

    It would be clunky but do-able.

  2. John Mashey
    May 5th, 2008 at 17:05 | #2

    I’ve been through various flavors, including speaking for one group, while someone held up a cellphone to send the words to people huddled around a speakerphone elsewhere.

    It certainly depends on the parameters of the remote setup, and the connections available in between them and you

    I assume that they are setup to use a laptop to run a projector?

    Then, if you were present, you might have the following capabilities.

    A) Laptop shows presentation, audience can see it.
    B) Laptop has audio hookup to sound system as well. (maybe)
    C) Audience can hear you.
    D) Audience can see you.
    E) You have direct control of Next slide/prev slide, or point&click in general.
    F) You can see audience.
    G) You can hear audience (for questions).
    H) Laptop has Internet connection, possibly via WiFi.
    I) There’s a telephone connection that at least hooks into the audio system there.

    The minimum useful combination is:
    A+C (and B or I), with you saying “next slide” and person on-site doing that.

    If you have also H and B, you might be able to use GoToMyPC and Skype.

    If you have A, H & I, you might use WebEx.

    F) is difficult, although you may be able to get D), if the Internet connection has enough bandwidth and you have a videocam. I’ve seen talking-head-within-PPT somewhere, don’t recall where, sorry.

  3. gordon
    May 5th, 2008 at 17:25 | #3

    1) Write a paper
    2) Get somebody at the conference to read it for you.

    Please read the comments policy, Gordon.

  4. May 5th, 2008 at 17:49 | #4

    In January I was faced with the same dilemma. I was here in Sydney, giving a talk in Dublin. The answer: iChat AV, which is part of normal system software on Macintoshes. If you use the latest version, along with Keynote, their presentation software (not free, but not pricey) you can integrate the slides into your video in real time, putting you in the corner while your slides soak up most of the screen real estate.

    Total equiment cost: whatever the day rental of a Macintosh would be. So, basically, cheap.

  5. May 5th, 2008 at 18:35 | #5

    As long as you both have a fairly decent net connection, I’d use Skype.

  6. May 6th, 2008 at 00:59 | #6

    I imagine these are good responses. If you want more reassurance or feedback, you could ask Internode. Adelaide based ISP, smart people, probably know what is around in the location. The business affairs manager is Heidi Angove and is v. smart.

  7. Luke
    May 6th, 2008 at 10:54 | #7

    http://www.genesys.com/sg might help you control the presentation if you can get a broadband link at the other end. You can upload your powerpoint and control it remotely. But you would need to test it first.

  8. May 6th, 2008 at 13:08 | #8

    I can recommend Go To Meeting [www.gotomeeting.com] to run online presentations from remote locations in tandem with a telephone conference call.

    Go To Meeting allows your online meeting participants (with a broadband internet connection) to see your PC monitor in real time from remote locations.

    If you run Go To Meeting with a teleconference call it means your remote participants can see and hear everything that your in-house participants can.

    The only thing the remote participants miss out on would be seeing your dial, with all due respect not such a great loss given its the words and pictures people are interested in not so much the speakers face.

    I use it in my business to demo to clients and find it effective, reliable and inexpensive.

    Regards,
    Mark

  9. FDB
    May 6th, 2008 at 13:23 | #9

    If you’re up for spending *some* cash but not much, you could book an ISDN line from Telstra, as insurance against dropouts or bandwidth fluctuations.

    Then one of the above suggestions would be fine. I’ve used iChat AV for a student’s honours thesis presentation from Israel, and it worked fine 90% of the time, but really jumpy for the other 10%. This was almost certainly a bandwidth problem at our end, as Israel has ludicrous speeds for a pittance. Bummer for the student to have us ask him to keep repeating himself when we didn’t catch something, but for a seasoned public speaker it wouldn’t throw you too badly. A booked line would be an almost certain fix though.

  10. jquiggin
    May 6th, 2008 at 15:04 | #10

    It appears they don’t have a physical ISDN line and the quote includes the capital cost of installing one.

  11. May 6th, 2008 at 17:05 | #11

    I have no technological insights, but thinking about it from the audience’s standpoint, I would have thought that they might be most satisfied by a high-resolution pre-recorded video, followed by a voice-only Q&A session, done down a standard phone line. In most conferences, the presentation is interruption-free, so the audience doesn’t get anything more out of you doing it live.

  12. May 7th, 2008 at 10:25 | #12

    Most of your options rely on the quality of the internet connection. I have excellent experience with Telstra’s NextG wireless broadband. Faster than ISDN, good building penetration. Use it with separate audio via a phone line.

    I’ve used it to do live meetings with good success

  13. Graham
    May 7th, 2008 at 11:10 | #13

    Internode (internode.net.au) is a large Adelaide based ISP and have a wireless hotspot covering the Adelaide CBD which might be useful.

    Even better, I suspect that if you contacted Simon Hackett, the CEO, and convinced him of the good you are doing for Adelaide he might be willing to go the extra mile for you.

    By the way, if you don’t want to go through official channels Simon is the sort of CEO that still talks directly to his customers over at whirlpool.net.au. He can be sent a whim there.

    Just remember, them that don’t ask, don’t get.

  14. June 4th, 2008 at 12:24 | #14

    Given that the venue does not have the infrastructure to support your requirements, the best, most practical and cost effective solution is to run the presentation locally. This would need to be emailed several days before. Have the audio visual provider supply a telephone hybrid interface to allow you to present aurally from wherever you may be.

    The MC would introduce you (which you would hear) and any questions from the audience microphones will also be able to be heard by you. You could be located anywhere there is a telephone, and the audio quality is excellent.

    Just remember to add a photo of yourself into the presentation so the audience can “identify” with you.

    Problem solved for a few dollars.

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