Virtual panel discussion via Skype2010-01-06
I just wrapped up participating as a panelist at the monthly chapter meeting of IABC‘s chapter in Orlando, Florida. Also on the panel with me was Barbara Gibson, immediate past chair of IABC. Barb’s from London. I live in the San Francisco East Bay. We both participated on the panel without leaving our homes.
Not that this is an all-time first. I’ve done a talk from Intel’s Santa Clara headquarters to a group meeting in the company’s Oregon offices. I’ve participated via conference call and Skype. But this was the first time Skype video was used the way chapter member Patrick Grady set it up.
As members arrived for the meeting, they could wander over to two laptops, each running Skype. I was connected on one of the laptops, Barb on the other. During this social hour, we chatted with members just as we would had we been there in the flesh. We disconnected during lunch, then reconnected for the panel discussion, at which time Patrick switched the output from laptop to a couple of big screens. Barb and I could see the audience; they could see us. (Unfortunately, Barb and I couldn’t see each other, but we heard one another just fine. We chatted a bit by direct message over Twitter, though.)
Of course, the videoconferencing element of this cost nothing. The IABC chapter’s only expense was the Internet connection in the meeting room and whatever they may have spent on the TV monitors and speakers.
There are other ways they could have been done for roughly the same money: Oovoo, for example. But these days, I’d look long and hard at why I’d spend a bundle of money on teleconferencing costs when free tools do the job perfectly well.