Platforms and applications
Web services such as Google Hangouts or CoverItLive provide a platform for hosting a live conversation. While the features of such services vary, many allow live moderation of content and the insertion of graphics into the live stream. Blog comments can also be used in a live context although resulting conversations are not as easy to follow.
Spontaneity is the appeal but careful orchestration is needed and management of the dialogue. Example applications include: –
- Delivering press conferences or breaking news
- Running a Q+A session
- Covering a parallel event
- Running a scheduled event or meeting
Consider the following when implementing a live chat: –
- It is essential to have good facilitation. Conversations need steering between commentators and the audience. Facilitators should encourage participants to ask other participants questions. For larger events, it is worth recruiting a helper.
- Moderation impairs the conversation and is tricky. Auto-approval is one approach, whereby well-behaved participants get during increasing freedoms during the course of an event.
- It is a good idea to have a rough schedule in advance. Outlining key topics and questions in advance can help stimulate debate.
- Live chats work best over short durations, less than 45 minutes. Lunch time works well. It is easy for participants to lose interest.
- Avoid too many commentators, 4-5 maximum, so that the forum does not become unmanageable.
- Fully brief the participants and facilitator in advance. For example, ensure that the administrator knows how to ban or silence rogue participants.
- If voice chat is possible, use a headset to avoid unwanted background noise.
- Prepare for a scenario whereby the facilitator or host gets temporarily dropped from the conversation.