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The Rise of Real Time Chat

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Scott Ross Presenting at WalmartI gave a presentation this week to the Information Systems Division (Corporate IT) of Walmart.  I teach classes in Bentonville every couple of months and was honored to present on "Teaming" (real time remote teams) at their annual week-long Enterprise Archicture forum.

The ~200 people in the audience were seated at 20 rows of tables in a large ballroom and there were remote teams watching on a video feed goiing out the world.

What was a first for me was the number of people with laptops open who were paying at least as much attention to what was on their screens as to what I was saying.  

Was my presentation that boring, that poorly delivered, of so little consequence?



Fortunately for me, I had attended the morning session and knew what was happening.  Session attendees were encouraged to correspond with each other and across the world using Chatter, a private messaging service based upon the Salesforce platform.  Think of it as a private Twitter with enhanced group capabilities.  

What was happening, is that, as I raised a topic, or said something of interest, they had a realtime discussion about it via Chatter.  

For the remote participants, especially for a chatty group in England, having a sidebar conversation during a presentation is becoming the new normal.  The post-speach Q&A was enhanced with questions submitted via Chatter to which I would respond to the live and video audience.

Reading the log of the conversations afterwords, it was impressive to me how natural the on-line conversations became and how candid people were in voicing their opinions in real time.  That my presentation should be more than just a one-way converstation is becoming the new expectation. 

If you watched the recent presidential debates, there was typically an analysis in the post-debate TV comentary of Twitter conversations and how many thousands of entries per minute were flowing depending upon which topic was being discussed or what the candidate said.

Roberta had her laptop open during the third presidential debate, monitoring the Twitter traffic.  She got a much broader sense of how people were responding to what was being said, how the candidates' body language and behavior was being recieved.  It enriched her viewing experience of the debates.

It is a brave new world, which now includes real time feedback.  I will change one of my presentation skills classes to include the fact that one-way presentations are no longer one-way.

How can you use this to connect with your audience?

Scott is co-owner of Wave's End Services, LLC, a Colorado-based provider of Web, IT Consulting, photography, video, and training services.