Speaker Tips When Using A Live Stream, Backchannel And Face To Face Experience

Heather Knight - PopTech 2010 - Camden, Maine

In the past two weeks, I’ve done three live streamed presentations.

It’s more work than a traditional presentation. With a few tweaks to my traditional face to face presentation, everyone benefits. The rewards of the extra work are worth it!

Presenting To Three Audiences At Once

The challenge when presenting for a hybrid event is juggling three audiences.

  1. The face to face audience in the room.
  2. The remote audience following the live stream online, sometimes within a hybrid or virtual platform or possibly on Facebook, YouTube, Livestream or Ustream. They may be able to text each other in a closed system.
  3. The remote audience not following the live stream but following the backchannel usually in Twitter.

Juggling Three Audiences

It’s difficult to juggle all three audiences by myself. It works best when I recruit others to help.

When possible, the host organization secures two others to assist. One follows and responds to the live chat in the virtual platform. The other follows and responds to the Twitter backchannel. Both bring questions into the face to face experience.

Sometimes I recruit volunteers in my face to face audience willing to assist. There are usually some experienced social media people in attendance that are more than willing to help out.

Tips For The Speaker

Here’s what I’ve learned that works best for me.

1. At the beginning, welcome both the face to face and remote audiences.

I welcome those online into the room.

2. Explain the live stream and backchannel to those in the face to face experience.

3. Establish the expectations of both the face to face and remote audiences at the beginning of the presentation.

I offer an audience-presenter agreement.

a. I offer the Law of Two Feet and the Law Of Motion that as adults they should take care of their own needs. If the presentation is not meeting their expectations, I invite them to leave the room. I don’t see it as rude because it’s not about me. It’s about them. I call this the Law of Click for the remote audience.

b. I invite them to turn their mobile devices on vibrate. I invite them to tweet and social share thoughts from the presentation. I share the Twitter hashtag and Facebook page link.

c. I encourage them to use the golden rule when tweeting “Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you.” I also ask them to tweet something good before tweeting something bad. Then they can disagree with me or let me have it.

d. I declare it’s a safe space to agree, disagree, ponder and question.

e. Then I ask if everyone agrees.

4. Ask how many people in the room will be tweeting or following the backchannel.

This is often where I will recruit others to help follow those conversations.

5. Take at least four discussion breaks in a typical 75- to 90-min presentation.

I will often ask my face to face audience to turn to their neighbor and discuss something I’ve presented. Early in my presentation I ask them to introduce themselves in a unique fashion like describing their current mood as a type of weather. There are tons of icebreakers one can use.

Whenever I give the face to face audience a discussion question, I turn and talk directly to my remote audience.

a. Here I ask my AV team to turn down the house sound but keep it live for the remote audience.

b. Then I look directly into the camera and ask the remote audience to text/tweet their response to my question.

c. I keep talking for a few minutes and then I go to my assistants and ask them about the online conversation so far. I make sure to introduce my moderators to the remote audience. I bring a wireless mic that has no house sound with me. That way the remote audience can hear and see the discussion.

6. Include commentary from the remote audience when debriefing discussion questions.

7. At the end, invite the face to face audience to log online and see the discussion from the remote audience.

8. Thank both the face to face and remote audience for playing along with me and each other.

What tips have you learned or seen other speakers use when working with face to face and remote audiences? What questions do you have about presenting to a remote audience?

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  1. Excellent list of useful tips here, Jeff. I particularly like your audience-presenter agreement, so reminiscent of the rules of Open Space.

    It seems to me that establishing a rhythm is a very important part of the equation. Taking into account the limitations (and advantages) of each platform and adjusting to it would be key.

    I will clip this on Evernote. I think this is going to be very useful. Thanks!!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      I like what you said about “…establishing a rhythm…” is a part of the equation. I totally agree! I think it’s about dancing with three audiences. Finding our beat, understanding our next moves, swaying together to the needs of each other. Brilliant stuff.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your comments too.

  2. Casey Truffo says:


    What a powerful and thoughtful post. I love the juggling you do – and giving us the exact steps really is helpful. As both a presenter and attendee in livestream events, I have found the juggling of all the balls to be a challenge. When a presenter makes me feel as welcome and “included” as you outline in these steps, I think the value to the audience is ten-fold.

    I am tweeting and bookmarking this post.

    Casey Truffo

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