Like most professional writers, I’ve always supplemented my writing income with speaking gigs—workshops, talks, presentations of all sorts, both for adults and for children. Although over the years I’ve presented the odd Skype or other remotely-delivered live presentation, the vast majority of my speaking gigs have been face-to-face and in person. They’ve often involved travel of some sort or the other—usually long distance, sometimes close to home.
Since late March, when the shutdown began here in Australia, that’s not been possible. Things are easing now where I live–we can travel now, at least within our State, that’s not the issue—but it still isn’t possible to return to the old speaking-gig model. Schools aren’t keen on having outside visitors, libraries’ hours are still restricted, and adults who usually attend workshops don’t really feel confident yet about the face-to-face experience. Like so many, I’ve had to learn to pivot pretty much exclusively to online presentations, and in the process I’ve learned quite a few things about the differences between online and in person, and how to best adapt a model I’ve evolved over the years I’ve been doing these gigs.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve done the odd Skype or other online live presentation before, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the remotely-accessed method of delivery: but all those previous presentations were talks, not workshops. Talks, like conference presentations, don’t need a lot of adaptation to present online—you give your talk, people sit there and listen, and then they ask questions at the end, which are hopefully moderated by whoever is the organizer. You do miss some of the buzz of the in-person audience, the expressions on people’s faces, etc. But it works pretty well, still. Some of the talks I’d given online had been to multiple schools at once, through a Department of Education closed system, and they worked like Zoom does, with muting of microphones etc. I’d be based in one of their studios which enabled the use of an electronic whiteboard, or ‘smartboard’ as it’s known here. The main challenge with those was making sure every school could contribute to question time. The Skype talks I’d given meanwhile had been to individual schools, one at a time, and that was easy because apart from not being in the classroom, it was, well, pretty much the same as being in the classroom 😊 [Read more…]