Guest Author: Dr. Guy Bunker, CTO, ExecIA LLP – Testing the Water Without Travelling Too Far
How do you find out what people are thinking? Simple, you ask them. But before you ask them you need to find the right people to ask, especially if you are asking about topics such as new IT technology or architectures – and that’s not easy. OK, so you know one or two, but how do you find more? I have now been a part of a number of BrightTALK webcasts which have dealt with some of the tough questions I have been looking at. The two most recent sessions have been on securing storage in the cloud and on dealing with next-generation spam and spear-phishing.
The format is simple, gather together some speakers and figure out some questions to get the audience involved. Controversy is not a bad thing to have – keeps everyone on their toes. In both of the sessions the audience response has been surprising and often confirms what has been postulated but it is good to have more empirical evidence. It has also shown how quickly new IT technology is (or has been) considered as part of the next generation architectures.
The key to the success of the sessions has been planning and you start by getting the right people together with a simple slide deck and some challenging questions. A good moderator is essential as they control the conversation along with pressing the right buttons to get the audience to vote and to see the results. They also keep an eye open for questions from the audience and drop those into the mix at the right moment. A good number of questions shows that the audience is (a) listening and (b) relating to what you are saying – i.e. they are the right people to be asking. Forty-five minutes disappears very quickly, and the sign of a successful event is one that has raised as many new questions as have been answered.
When I first asked whether anyone watched the webcasts on demand, the response was that over time, around 10 times as many people watch the on-demand webcast as the live webcast. Is it true? If it is, then it has to be the best way to reach 1,000+ people from the comfort of your own office (and the audience hasn’t left theirs either). I don’t know the exact numbers, but I have had people contact me, having watched an on-demand webcast, to follow up on what was said… so something must be going right.