Someone writes in:
I noticed that you did a remote lecture in Warwick and I—thinking of organizing such a lecture—was wondering about the logistics.
(1) What software did you use? Was any special IT required for it to run?
(2) Did you feel that it was a positive speaking experience? Were there any challenges, especially any unforseen?
Referrals to other people who might be able to help would be very welcome.
I used Google Hangout, which worked well. We started out with a phone call to get it set up, then once it was all going we didn’t need the phone anymore. I had them set up a few computers there so I could get a view of the audience. The toughest part was that if the sound setup is not perfect, you have to mute the audience when you’re talking to avoid sound feedback. It’s a challenge when you can’t hear the audience react to your jokes. I had to stare at some of the people in the audience (of course, with the remote connection they couldn’t tell I was staring) to get a sense of reactions.
Other than that, it went OK. You just have to psych yourself up a bit to counter the lack of direct contact.
Also, I’m thinking that in a remote talk it should be possible to do a better job getting questions from the audience. In my two recent webinars, one for political science and one for Stan, I got tons of good questions. It helped that people could type in their questions on the web interface so (a) they didn’t have to stand up to ask, and (b) they could type their questions when they came to mind and not have to wait till the end. Even though the actual question period was at the end, we collected questions throughout the seminar. Also in the webinars there was a moderator who collected the questions and asked me the good ones. This makes me think that something similar could be done in seminars more generally.
Maybe commenters have other thoughts.