Monday evening, I did something I’d never done before. I gave a talk to more than 400 people. And, I did it from the comfort of my home office.
This was a very cool thing. Bill Edgar, N3LLR, the director from the Atlantic Division, has a webinar account with citrixonline.com that allows him to produce an unlimited number of seminars over the Web (hence the term “webinar”). I got hooked up to Bill via Jim Weaver, K8JE, the Great Lakes Division Director. He thought my talk on kit building would make an interesting presentation for a wider audience, as well as give my candidacy for Vice Director a nice shot in the arm.
It really couldn’t have been simpler to do. All I had to do was to sign on the the CitrixOnline website with the URL given to me by Bill. The website recognized immediately that I was one of the “panelists.”
When the time came, Bill, who was the webinar moderator, made me a “presenter,” and this allowed me to share my screen with everyone who was attending the webinar. On my screen, I had my presentation displayed and was able to page through it as I talked. I was also able to switch back and forth to a Web browser to highlight a particular kit vendor.
One thing that turned out to be important is that I had a headset with microphone that I could plug into the computer. One of the other panelists tried using the built-in mike and speakers of his computer, and there was definitely feedback between the speakers and microphone. It sounded like he was in an echo chamber. CitrixOnline suggests a USB headset/mike combo, but mine is just an analog set, and that seemed to work just fine.
Bill, Jim, and I signed in early to get things in order. We were able to talk amongst ourselves without any of the attendees hearing us, which allowed us to talk about the agenda for the webinar and clear up some last minute details. When the clock turned 8pm, Bill threw the switch and connected us with our audience.
After some introductions, they passed it to me, and I launched right in. It was almost as if I were speaking to a club, except that I was doing it from my home office with a headset on. Another big difference was the size of the audience. Bill mentioned before the talk began that 450 had signed up to take part in the webinar, and that at least one or two of those were planning to use my presentation as the presentation for their club meeting that evening.
I talked for about 45 minutes, and then we asked for questions from the audience. They submitted their questions using a form on the website. Bill, as moderator, fielded those questions, chose the most appropriate ones, and then posed them to me. There was some very good questions, such as the one about using lead-free solder, and I have incorporated that information into my presentation.
Several other participants informed me of some kit vendors that I missed. These are also now part of my presentation.
Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties. For some of the attendees, the audio was of such poor quality that they were unable to really get much out of my presentation. My theory is that the Citrix servers, while supposedly able to handle up to 1,000 attendees, was simply overwhelmed.
That being the case, we are going to do this again on Monday, October 6, at 8:00pm EDT. To register, go to https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/388535893. N3LLR reports that Citrix has been notified of the VOIP problems and is fixing them.
Overall, it was a lot of fun for me to reach so many people. I also see the value of this kind of service. It would be a way for me to reach so many more people over the Internet than I am able to do in person. More use of this technology is definitely in order.