Are Online Events Useful?

First there was uStream, then FaceTime, then YouTube Live and Google+ Hangouts. In the future, we’ll likely have always-on holograms capable of reacting just as a real person would.

In the future, we may never have to leave our desks to have face-to-face meetings, we’ll just put on our Google Glasses, fire up our full-body scanners and congregate in ephemeral worlds clad in avatars just like Snow Crash and the Matrix and virtually high-five in our online events.

But will it feel real? As Morpheus said, “What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

But until we have that kind of technology, we’re going to experiment with what we can do. Events like Jeff Goins’ Wrecked book tour are a fantastic look at what could work, what will likely work, and what exactly it means to have a tribe of dedicated fans/attendees/followers willing to try something a little different with an online event.

What makes a good online event? Here are a few things we’d like to see from anyone hosting an event digitally:

Agenda – far too many online hangouts lack agendas, meaning the host either talks to themselves, or answers halfhearted questions throughout the audience. We believe that the most useful events have agendas and goals, along with a host unafraid to keep people moving along.

Faces – with so many computers built with webcams, broadcasting ourselves is easy, but broadcasting it well is not. Guys like ePublishUnum’s Evo Terra buy specific external webcams to be able to look directly into the lens and emote all the way through your screen.

Audio – your built-in mike isn’t good enough, nor are your iPhone headphones. Quality microphones and headsets can he had for around $100, and they improve sound quality considerable. We haven’t found wireless mics to be clear enough for most online events, but they soon will be.

Timing – time zones make scheduling difficult, but this can be alleviated by planning multiple events. Try an early one for the East Coast, and another in the evening for the West Coast. We’d also love to see presenters narrate their slides using something like LoopLogic, which gives us the ability to time-shift content.

See you online!