The Experience of a Live Conference vs a Recorded Video

Preparations for the IA Summit in 2010 are underway (Jen Bohmbach and Livia Labate are chairing it) and recent discussions amongst the program committee got me thinking about the experience of attending a conference and seeing a presentation live vs seeing it afterward on video from your home /office. So here goes:

  • Informational: Both experiences are very informational – not much difference here.
  • Controllable: Control is very much in the hands of the presenter during the live session and much more so in the hands of the viewer for the video experience.
  • Social: The live experience is probably a more social experience, you’re typically sitting next to people – maybe even talking with them about the presentation.
  • Personal: Neither experience is very personal.
  • Scoped: Both experiences are well scoped – presentations typically focus on communicating something specific.
  • Learnable: Both experiences are very learnable – that’s generally the point of a presentation after all!
  • Configurable: Neither are very customizable, although a video presentation might allow things like viewing transcripts or even translations.
  • Adaptive: A video experience typically isn’t adaptive. However, a live presenter can be very adaptive – to the reception the audience is giving them, the time, even environmental factors (lighting, acoustics, etc).
  • Playful: A live presenter can do more to engage the audience directly with some fun activities.
  • Impartial: Although the topic may be the same, a live presenter has more opportunity to influence the audience because of the more direct and immediate delivery.
  • Connected: Both experiences may stand alone or be part of a set, however, a video experience might find it easier to more immediately connect the user to other similar experiences.
  • Sensory: A live presentation has the edge here, the physical nature allowing many more senses to be engaged than a video presentation.
  • Accessible: A video presentation is clearly much more accessible – you can view it from your home, office, or anywhere on a mobile device. In fact this characteristic is really the biggest differentiator between the two and the one that balances the advantages of “being there in person”.
  • Findable: The experiences can’t really be compared on this characteristic but they both face different challenges – anyone who has been to a conference must have had the experience of trying to find the right room, and who hasn’t been ‘lost’ on the web?

1 Response to “The Experience of a Live Conference vs a Recorded Video”

  1. 1 Dominic LaCava August 21, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    This is a great comparison between live and recorded presentations. However I think that live conferences can be Configurable. It’s common for presenters to make their presentations interactive, such as having the audience participate in mini design slams, asking survey questions (i.e. how many people have the title Information Architect, how many people have used Photoshop in the last month), encouraging the audience to ask questions throughout the presentation, etc. This gives the audience some ability to control the presentation by participating directly. By encouraging interaction, presenters might customize their presentations on-the-fly to address audience feedback. Presenters might think up examples that weren’t part of the original presentation or provide added detail to specific topics, basically shaping the content to suit the feedback. Just as presenters are playful to engage the audience to make a connection, they can take advantage of this connection to customize the presentation, which is unique to live conferences. To add another dimension to this, it would be cool to think about the different experiences of a live conference viewed in-person vs. remotely.

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