To be frank, I am Zoomed out. Like many people I have spent too long over the last few weeks staring at a screen or two, taking part in or running online events. #CyberFest hasn’t helped of course. Even though the events have been great, it has meant keeping alert for hours, trying to think of meaningful questions, making sure the technology keeps pace and generally keeping the show on track (Clare has been an enormous help though).
I’ve been holding them in my conservatory, sitting on a low backless stool to make sure the marketing is in shot and once the sun comes out it can be stiflingly hot. Anyway, I can now claim to be somewhat of an expert in hosting such events and there are some truths that I have learnt which I thought it might be useful to share:
- Hosting online events is very tiring. It doesn’t seem that you do much, sitting around watching a screen, but the mental energy it takes is draining. It is also not like honest exercise where your muscles feel tired and your heart is pounding, but rather a brain fatigue which leaves you drawn and vacant.
- This may be obvious but you are reliant upon other people’s technology. If they have an old device or are not comfortable with the platform it soons shows up. Live online events highlight the differing levels of connectivity across the region but the problem is that when the speaker is stuttering or freezing you are left wondering if it is your end or theirs. When running an event it is always worth having a whatsapp chat, or similar, open with another colleague who can keep you up to date with what is going on.
- You can always fill an online event. Don’t worry about not having enough content to fill the time available. If things run short then simply ask some questions and start a conversation with the speakers. Invariably the discussion will last longer than you thought it would and time will fly by. If anything you should plan to underfill your event.
It looks like online events will be with us for some time to come, perhaps forever in some guise or other and there will be other lessons to learn. In the meantime I must get back to my stool as I have another event to run.