Talkshoe + Teamslide = Your Show?
What if you could host a live talk show on the Web and turn the audio into a podcast? That’s cool, but wouldn’t it be cooler if you could also have your audience sit back, relax and watch your slide deck go by while you talked?
I’m always on the hunt for enabling technologies one can seize to deliver value in consulting, marketing, sales, and deliver intellectual capital in new and more efficient ways. With these two offerings combined, we’re soooo close to being able to deliver high value, mass audience webinars without paying hundreds or thousands of dollars per month in fees to the likes of WebEx, Go-to-Meeting and others…but we’re not there yet.
When Skypecasts were added as a preview on the Skype site, I was initially excited until I realized that — even though they were able to deliver call-in “shows/events” for up to 100 people — it was Skype only (no landline callers can participate). I then was quite enthused when I discovered HighSpeedConferencing which delivered call-in shows/events for up to 500 people and both Skype and landline callers could participate.
But there are no visuals with Skypecasts or other cool, new audio conferencing solutions! I have my own pent-up demand for high volume, mass audience webinar and presentation capability. While reading the Skypejournal and forums where Skype’ers hang out, there is no question that many, many others share that need so there’s a market for this combination.
Are there any “gotcha’s” with using Talkshoe, Teamslide, HighSpeedConferencing and other services to hold mass webinars or shows?
There are several gotcha’s in my view:
- CALL QUALITY: With Talkshoe, people can call-in with normal phones, download the Talkshoe client for highly interactive (during show) instant messaging and other participation, all while the show is recorded for later download or to be delivered from within Talkshoe as a full blown podcast.
Almost all the shows I’ve listened to thus far have Talkshoe’s annoying bumper at the beginning (which sounds like noise, quite frankly) and audio levels on interview shows — or even when callers talk — are all over the map with respect to volume and quality. This may, however, be the inexperience of the users recording or it may be their conferencing bridge that’s recording the call.
This bridge-low-quality-recording is an issue with HighSpeedConferencing as well. Since Skype sounds GREAT at its 16khz quality (a traditional phone call is only 8khz), I’d expected to be able to capture recorded Skypecasts, HighSpeedConferencing or even Talkshoe calls at a higher khz or bit rate. Unfortunately, any recording offered is at the low end of the quality scale (though I’ve personally recorded Skypecasts both on my computer and externally to my M-Audio microtrack in high quality…but this is a technoweenie adventure which most people would never do).
- NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: With Teamslide, one can upload Powerpoint presentations and the interface allows you to see who is watching the slides go by as you drive the presentation from your computer. It’s cross-platform and pretty easy to use. There are options to have Teamslide host your slides OR you can buy and install the software on your own server.
The issue is what they describe as the “ceiling” on number of users: 10 viewers via their hosted service; up to 20 (since that’s what they’ve tested) via the purchased, downloaded and installed-on-your-own-web-server version of the software. They disclaim with a sort of “your mileage may vary” based on your web server and capability.
Pushing bits is not a trivial problem nor is it cheap. It’s tough to push bits to multiple participants and requires a robust server and — depending upon the number of receivers — alot of bandwidth.
I’ve had great experiences with Yugma (disclaimer: I was a consultant to them from June through early October) which is a desktop screen sharing solution (also cross-platform) and is one of the easiest and most seamless collaboration tools I’ve used yet. It’s a client-server architecture meaning that the host (presenter) pushes bits up to the server which, in turn, blasts those pixels out to the audience (the viewers).
In order to scale to multiple participants who are often geographically disbursed all over the internet (with any of these new services like Teamslide or Yugma), it’s required that servers be located at all major peering points on the internet so as to minimize latency and provide viewers with a good experience (otherwise the further away an audience member is from your server, the longer it would theoretically take to see the next slide and they won’t be able to keep up nor will you know, as the presenter, what everyone is seeing at any point in time).
So what’s the bottom line? All of the enabling technologies outlined above are phenomenal for small groups or teams and hold great promise. But do not expect that you will easily (i.e., cheaply) be able to deliver high quality, mass attendee web events, shows (or whatever you want to call them) with any of the above-named tools.
Try them out. Test them in real-world scenarios. If you or your company can afford it, buy one of the premium services from webinar or screen sharing vendors so you can be guaranteed of mass audience capability. Otherwise, stick to small groups or other approaches to deliver your event or show.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.