Use of Videos To Support Presentations

This year I’ve started to make use of video and audio technologies to support my work activities.  This has included giving a numbers of talks to remote audiences using the Elluminate software as part of the JISC Emerge project. There have also two occasions when I have been invited to give a talk at a conference but was unable to attend in person. The first on these was the UCISA 2008 Management Conference, where I had been invited to give a talk on “Digital Natives Run by Digital Immigrants“.   Unfortunately by the time the invitation had been confirmed (i.e. the speaker the organisers really wanted had let them know he couldn’t attend!) I had found that I was committed to attending another meeting.  Not a problem, I thought, as video technologies are now fairly mature. But as I was aware of (a) the risks of giving a live video presentation and (b) the dullness of a ‘talking head’ on a screen I decided to pre-record my presentation. And I agreed with the conference audiences that the talk would be a double act, with Andy Powell of the Eduserv Foundation, physically attending the conference and contributing to the talk.  And as neither Andy nor myself with keen on the proposed title, we jointly came up with the entitled “IT Services are Dead, Long Live IT Services 2.0!“.

The video of my talk is still available on Zentation which have been synchronised with the PowerPoint slides – unlike, of course,  the talks given by Andy and the other speakers at the conference. Conference participants will now only have faded memories of their talks, with (possibly) their PowerPoint slides being available on the UCISA Web sites, together with any conference reports which may have been published.

More recently I have purchased a Flip camera and used it to record presentations I have given, including presenting papers at the iPres2008 and ADDW08 conferences – and as I have suggested, this approach can potentially enhance the impact of such papers and the accessibility of the resources.

Should We Leave It To The Professionals?

However in a blog post published back in August entitled  What Web 2.0 teaches us… Andy Powell suggested that “Web 2.0 technology democratises production but creative talent and presentation skills remain rare commodities” (although to be fair to Andy, his post was prefixed with the remark that the post is “intended to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek and humorous but like most such things, from my perspective at least, I think it contains at least a grain or two of truth“).

Andy’s point was that “our desktop use of audio and video in particular tends to highlight an amateurish approach to production“. And as well as his doubts regarding the production values he also felt that “Some people’s voices simply become wooden when faced with a microphone and the ‘record’ light, to the point that listening to them is painful.”

And more recently in response to a post on “Videoing Talks As A Means Of Providing Equivalent Experiences” Andy suggested that for my video of a talk I gave at ADDW08 conference “Video is a nice gimmick (in this case) but no more.

Is Andy right? Should we leave the production of audio and video resources to the AV experts? Should we leave video presentation to those who have been received appropriate training in presentational skills? And is the use of video a nice gimmick?

Experiments At IWMW 2008

In addition to recording videos of talks at conferences, either in advance or at the event itself, I have been experimenting with the potential of video micro-blogging tools such as Seesmic.

Seesmic has been described as “the “Twitter of video” – you record a brief video giving your thoughts on a topic and people can respond, also using video.

Now people who don’t get Twitter are unlikely to what Seesmic could offer. But it seems that people who are happy to use Twitter and appreciate the benefits it can provide do not necessarily feel that Seesmic has much to offer.  And I myself was rather sceptical until I met with AJ Cann in Leicester a few months ago and he convinced me that it was a tool worthy of some experimentation.

My first Seesmic posts were made prior to the IWMW 2008 events, and I published video blog posts giving an Introduction to the IWMW 2008 Event, a summary of the Plenary Talks, the Social Aspect of the event and the Barcamp. And I was pleased that Mike McConnell and Mike Whymet also demonstrated their willingness to try out the service with their Welcome to Aberdeen. These experiments provided me with an opportunity to see how the service worked, how the content could be re-used – and to worry out the visual impression I may be giving.  I was particularly pleased at the ease with which the video posts can be embedded in Web pages.

Further Experiments

I will be unable to facilitate a blogging workshop at ILI this year, but my colleague Marieke Guy and Ann Chapman are able to take my place.  They will be reusing materials I developed for previous blog workshops, but it did occur to me that this workshop might provide an opportunity to experiment with Seesmic as a means of providing additional multimedia materials for use during a workshop.

I have created a number of Seesmic video posts on several topics related to blogging including:

  1. Why do I blog? [link]
  2. How do I find ideas to blog about? [link]
  3. How do I find the time to blog? [link]
  4. Is blogging rewarding? [link]
  5. Do I comment on other people’s blogs?
  6. Is blogging for everyone? [link]
  7. How should you get started blogging? [link]
  8. What’s best – a team blog or an individual’s blog? [link]
  9. What are the pros and cons of externally-hosted blogs versus in-house blogs? [link]

These video blogs posts can be accessed on the Seesmic Web site, embedded in other Web pages or viewed using desktop client tools such as the Twhirl Twitter client, illustrated.

For me an advantage which Seesmic may provide is the ability to receive video responses.  This has already happened with the author of the TechTicker blog, in particular, having provided a number of useful responses, including one in which he describes why he feels that users who are happy to publish their reflections in a public space are likely to be more willing to engage in public blogging activities.

Now at an event, such as the blogging workshop, this might be particularly useful in providing access to a diversity of multimedia content. And I think this type of use addresses Andy’s concern that “the linear nature of audio and video tends to defy attempts at scanning the content“. I would suggest that most participants at events are familiar with the linear nature of presentations and are willing to accept that they can’t fast forward past the boring parts 🙂

So if any readers of this blog post would be willing to give their thoughts on any of the topics I’ve mentioned feel free to leave a video response. Who knows, there might be an opportunity for your thoughts – and your service – to be featured at the event.

But should we leave video production to the experts? I don’t think so, but your view may differ.  But if you do feel that Seesmic may have something to offer, then there will be a need to identify best practices (e.g. stick to a single topic in a blog post and in subsequent responses) and to be aware of potential pitfalls, including the dangers of video content being locked within the service – this is a reason I create the video posts in a separate application and have explored uploading the video to Seesmic via YouTube, as can be seen from the image above.