Chatting. We all do it. Some of us do it by the water cooler in the break room. Others send an instant message to a co-worker and chat it up. And from what we’ve seen on Twitter lately, many people send tweets or chat during conference calls and webinars. I admit I have been guilty of sending a quick message myself.
However, when you’re putting on a webinar or web conferencing event, do you really want to encourage your participants to chat amongst themselves? Many virtual events use Twitter to take questions during their session, which generally results in a bit of banter. But, a public forum within your presentation dedicated to chit chat could be damaging. Here are a few reasons why.
- You Will be Sharing Attendee Information
- Not All Chatting Will Be Safe for Work
- Your Audience Will Be Distracted
If you’re publicizing audience information during your web meeting (for example, the attendees’ first and last names or even email addresses), what’s to stop a competitor who may be in attendance from looking up that person or their company? With today’s social media tools, it’s not too difficult to find people online. Another concern is that if you have less than anticipated attendance, allowing attendees to 'see each other' highlights that there is a small audience, potentially discounting the quality and importance of your message.
Chat panels are frequently used for support, meaning audience members can type in questions about the materials or speaker. If the moderator posts a private response to those individuals, other audience members could be left with the impression that those questions were ignored. Any time there is a public forum, you run the risk of less savory attitudes being on display. I have even seen some ambitious sales people post their contact information in the chat panel. No one wants to be spammed when they’re trying to focus on the speaker’s presentation.
Finally, there’s the distraction factor. If you have an important message to deliver, you probably want your audience to focus on the speaker and the content rather than to carry on side conversations that may veer off topic.
These problems underscore the advantage of hiring an event management professional. Event managers can walk you through all the possible event scenarios and help you make decisions that ensure the success of your event—like whether to use public or private chat. They can also provide assistance behind the scenes of your live event by monitoring chat logs, replying to technical issues and forwarding content related questions directly to the speaker.
If you’ve experienced other issues with public chat functionality or have solutions to some of the problems I mentioned, please tell us in the comments section below.
Cambria Vaccaro is the Senior Director, Marketing Communications and our “Industry News” blogger. Cambria has been in the conferencing industry for nearly fifteen years, and has seen it evolve from a traditional video bridging service to include cool web features and remote communication services. She is an avid runner, cook, wife and mother of two gorgeous girls.