Based upon our experience so far with buddy-style hangouts, here are some tips to help those who wish to be onsite buddies:
- Choose a good location. An ideal location is a quiet space backing onto a wall, as it avoids random people jumping into the back of the live session. The onsite location helps to set the tone for the conversation. Couches or coffee tables in a back corner work well.
- Decide on a backchannel. The onsite and virtual buddies need to be in close communication, especially immediately before and during the session.
- Let the virtual buddy know the onsite location. Often the virtual buddy is managing the Twitter backchannel and needs to direct people to where you are physically.
- Test your connectivity. Go through the process of setting up a video conference in advance. If possible, use a dedicated Internet connection as conference wifi is often unreliable. Note, if you have an unlimited high speed (LTE) data plan, you may wish to use or tether from your mobile phone.
- Choose your device. Different devices have different camera angles. Generally, the smaller the device, the closer you need to be to it in order to use video conferencing effectively. Mobile phones are great for one or two people, tablets and laptops are good for one to three people. Otherwise onsite participants can take turns holding the device when they speak. In addition, know where the microphone is on your device – make sure people are not covering it when they are holding the device.
- Get permission to Go Live. Check that everyone consents to live streaming and recording. In addition, get permission to use the recordings for research purposes.
- Prepare guest speakers. Provide the guest speakers with a quick overview of what to expect. Giving someone a few minutes to think about what they are going to say will help them relax and feel more comfortable.
- Don’t forget to introduce yourself. It becomes really easy to concentrate on the guest speakers, that the onsite buddy can easily forget to introduce themselves.
- Remember the wider audience. Those watching the session are (obviously) not at the conference. Remember to provide adequate context for those who are watching the session remotely.
- Most Importantly – Embrace imperfection! These sessions are not meant to be perfectly scripted video productions, rather, they are spontaneous small group interactions. These will necessarily not be perfect. Go with the flow and enjoy the experience.
Here are some Google Slides we prepared about the entire VConnecting process…but it evolves…