What is it like to facilitate a live video broadcast?

I’ve worked with the Charity Learning Consortium for a little while and whilst chatting with CEO and Founder Martin Baker, we somehow came up with the mad idea to live broadcast the presentations from a members meeting in London, up to the members in Scotland, so that everyone is included without the time and cost of travel.

You can read here about some plans we had before the day.

Fast forward a lot of work from a lot of people, and we were D-day!

The live streaming broadcast was TV quality and provided by Colin Steed of Learning Now TV.

I flew to Edinburgh to be the local facilitator. This is an important role to make sure that both geographies were connected. In an ideal world, we would get the full experience of the speakers in London. If all failed, it was my job to make sure that the Scottish members still had a great learning day. No pressure!

It’s not just me and the CLC that were excited, the Scottish members were too!


Setting up the technology

It’s a separate blog post to focus on the specifics of the technology we used, how it worked together (or didn’t!) and the various plans we went through before it was working.

Whilst we had planned, discussed, researched and tested, obviously when you are at the venues with all the variables, things are different. There were also bits of technology we weren’t able to test before hand as well as assumptions made that we didn’t realise about – as always!

It took about 90 minutes or more to get both London and Scotland events set up ready for the live stream. This included Colin recording and the live stream, the communication between Scotland and London, and the connection Scotland to London.

In London we had the CLC’s Harri Le Claire on to be our Scotland voice. In Scotland there was me to facilitate with everyone as well as setup all of the technology. Louise Houston was the CLC representative as well as supporting me in the facilitation and communication with Harri. Complicated? A bit. The important part was the right communication all round.

Long story short – whilst the live streaming from London to Edinburgh was working, we couldn’t get decent video and audio the other way round. As I say, that’s another blog post on what we tried, learned and what we could do next time.


The streaming experience for attendees

I think I meant a “quick” brain quiz!


Facilitating the streaming experience

Again it’s the topic of another blog to go into the detailed nuts and bolts of how I facilitated the day. At it’s best, I was there to smooth the ride between the live streamed sessions and make sure that the technology kept working.

However we all know that technology doesn’t necessarily behave!

When there was enough bandwidth at the London venue the streaming worked brilliantly – the LNTV broadcast visual and audio were excellent. The audio we had in the Scotland room was set up really well so it was good quality.

I had local copies of the slides and a second computer/screen setup to display those for the local attendees. When Colin was first filming the speakers he was focusing on their upper body and face, so we got a got quality picture of them, which was great. However as we didn’t have any technology that allowed mirrored slides (so that when the speaker clicked next in London, we saw the same in Scotland) I had to do that locally. And I couldn’t always see when they changed slide!

Once we realised this, we got Colin to zoom out. The attendees in Scotland really appreciated seeing a bit more of the context and I could follow on better too. There are technical options where we could have done this. However what we decided to do, knowing this was a huge first, was to focus on doing a couple of things well and not over-complicating the use of technology.

There were some other challenges with the slides – such as speakers changing them last minute and me not having the right slides. I also had some local problems in showing them, which was entirely due to me trying to do two or three things on one laptop. Eventually I dedicated one to just slides and it worked much better.

When the live stream failed, which it did, it was my job to keep things going in Scotland. As I jumped up I joked the first time, “this is where I earn my money”.

I had the slides locally and had prepared beforehand, so I knew what was being covered. Also we planned ahead on all the activities so not only did we have the right materials in Scotland, but I also knew how to facilitate them and we could feed back to London too.

The local facilitation model we used worked really well. The delegates said that, had they been at home/work and just watching the live stream, after a certain number of problems they would have logged out. By having me and Louise from the CLC all in a room together, not only could I continue delivering the content, but also we could have conversation together.

This was a significant challenge for me as a facilitator. We had speakers covering topics on engagement, internal communications and neuroscience, as well as shorter lightening talks on a variety of subjects, and some CLC member specific updates. I had to be prepared to step in on any or all of these and deliver value. I couldn’t have done that without Louise, as she knew the CLC-specific material, whereas I focused on the L&D elements.

There was only one presentation I felt I didn’t cover well when we had more serious streaming issues in the afternoon. Whilst I had prepared and looked at the slides, I hadn’t done the extra research that meant I was super confidant.

We got through it fine, it certainly wasn’t a failure, but it highlighted how important this role is to be prepared in depth and breadth. Louise and I thought that, next time, the CLC staff member would concentrate more on the shorter presentations and the facilitator on the larger L&D topics, so both played to their strengths.

Several of the delegates said a version of, “we’re all trainers; none of us wanted to be standing where you were!”. That made me feel better.

Whilst the day as a whole was a stressful one and I had to keep many plates spinning, all of which were wobbling, there was only one moment where I truly started to hyperventilate. The live stream of the neuroscience session failed, so I had to start that off. I knew the speaker, Gary Luffman, so I could do him a certain amount of justice as an introduction. Whilst I’m no brain expert, I know enough to facilitate a session.

The hyperventilating started when even my local slides failed on me and I had nothing to refer to and nothing for the delegates to see. Whilst PowerPoint slides aren’t everything, in the moment, it was one fail too many! Luckily breathing kicked in, I made light of it, realised what the technical issue was and got that fixed very quickly, and then the live stream started working again. And I sat down and relaxed!

All my webinar, live event hosting, technical knowledge and facilitation experience was drawn upon that day!

At the end of the day we did a short Periscope live video broadcast with some of the Scottish attendees on what they thought:



Were there technical issues? Yes, of course. The live streaming from the London venue was troublesome due to bandwidth and other technical issues, despite our work with the venues ahead of time.

Were there local technical issues in Scotland? Again, yes of course! You can plan and prep all you like, but then in a different venue and doing it live, it’s always different.

Was it stressful? Hell yes! But, it was also fun and a great learning experience and I enjoyed the challenge of bringing it all together.

Did people learn something and get value from the day? Also yes. There was an acceptance of the experimental nature of the live broadcasting we were doing. People were just happy that they didn’t have to travel from Scotland down to London. Not only did that save people effort and time (I basically had most of the day before getting to Scotland and got home very late the night we delivered), but it saved the cost and time out of work/life too.

Delegate feedback from the Scottish attendees about yours truly:

  • Having Jo and Louise available
  • Having Jo and Louise here to fill in when IT was an issue. Still felt part of London event
  • Jo was great to make the conference more ‘real’ and keep us engaged
  • Jo was fabulous as always – both as a facilitator and managing the tech
  • Jo’s facilitation was fab x2
  • Jo the facilitator was fantastic, kept the event lively + discussion going despite the tech glitches – well done!
  • Good but IT failed 🙁 Jo was great 🙂
  • Jo the facilitator was fantastic, kept the event lively + discussion going despite the tech glitches – well done!

And lastly, Louise Houston and I had an exhausted but happy journey back down south!

Is L&D shellfish with regards the modern learner?

Sorry about the fish joke, though it does make me halibut… But this post is about the “fishbowl” event focusing on discussion of the DNA of the Modern Learner, so there had to be some fishy references… Read an intro about the event here.

Despite a 5.30am alarm I didn’t make it into the London event due to train issues. That was very sad, but nice to know I was missed!

However whilst getting home I followed the back channel (the #PSKevents hashtag on Twitter), here are some highlights and thoughts:

Ger’s tweet with a Periscope video shows the layout of the event:


Some discussion about the event setup:


And pics to get a sense of the room from afar:


Starting off the conversation:

This is key in organisations now, not just for L&D to understand their “learners” but for a business to understand their staff – how they can work more efficiently and just get the job done to everyone’s satisfaction.

Niall, also on the back channel, picks up the language issue:


Thoughtful question from Ger Drisen:

It’s got to be both, with social change, technology, economic climate and much more. It is interesting to think if one led the other at all.


Some L&D improvements needed:

This is such a key, to understanding that people don’t want to wait for a one day course when they want to learn something new. This is something that L&D departments still do a lot, the “menu of training”.

It’s not a blame game, there are many reasons why trainers and departments still do this, especially when something is so big and ingrained in the company understanding and culture. The larger the ship, the bigger the turning circle.


Modern learning is…?

I definitely like the idea of resources not courses and I’m building up Lightbulb Moment this way – to make sure people have access to documents, templates and learning nuggets when they need them, as well as access to their peers to learn from.

Google it and there’s plenty of research about how manager’s have a huge influence over their staff’s performance and therefore their learning. So for embedding learning, or learning transfer, they are essential.

An excellent point from Kim. One of the struggles I often have with trainer’s new to the virtual environment is that they don’t feel that they can ‘control’ the room the same way that they do face to face; they can’t see if people are in their email or away from the screen.

Another element of this with modern learning design is that my experience of people in the organisation that are rolling out learning and performance initiatives is that often they don’t want to relinquish the feeling of ‘control’ of knowing people have attended a class – face to face, e-learning or virtual. There’s a hunger to do learning better so that people can do their jobs better, but the idea of letting go and trusting people to learn in “new” (organisationally-speaking) ways is alien to them.

Trent Rosen shared a link to this article that gathers some research into modern learners, including an infographic.


At the end of the event I asked the back channel:

On a separate note, Niall tweeted this:

So a learning point about a live event which has promoted a back channel is that it’s not just marketing, but people really are engaged and thy need thought and planning too so as not to feel left out.


Hot seat too hot?

They way I understand a fishbowl is that people jump in and out of the conversation.

Maybe no one got into the hot seat as planned, but at least people in the audience joined in.

A fish called learning

On Thursday morning I’m attending the PSK Performance Fishbowl Discussion on the DNA of the Modern Learner in London. It’s running 8-10am, so that does mean a very early start to get into London for that time, but I’m sure it will be worth it!

The day is hosted by Trent Rosen, who is Director at PSK Performance. The panel include some well known L&D experts: Laura OvertonNick Shackleton-JonesDeborah GordonGer Driesen and Sukhvinder Pabial.

What is a fishbowl?

From the description of the event:

The Fishbowl format is less heavy on structure, more emphasis on interaction and audience participation that fosters learning. Unlike traditional panels, the audience can join the panel at any time to raise a question, share their experiences, and even challenge the panels thinking on this topic. Or observe the conversations whilst taking down tips and information. Whatever your choice, you will learn something new as a result of attending.

There are a number of topics listed:

  • Keeping up with the Joneses; how employee expectations are mirroring social, demographic and technology changes
  • Designing learning content that stimulates and meet the demands of modern learners
  • Navigating through the maze of technology distractions and the overwhelming nature of change
  • Creating a modern working environment that is conducive to less traditional learning approaches

Of these, I think the changes are important when focusing on the modern learner; the stimulation needed in learning experiences (not that those experiences are separate from things like performance support); understanding that whilst there is a maze of of technology, it’s all about focusing on the performance and learning needs; and the modern working environment versus more traditional approaches.

Balance of the modern?

I think to balance this understanding of the modern learning leader there needs to be an understanding that a lot of organisations aren’t there – they aren’t in a ‘modern’ space. The argument, of course, has to be that the staff are often there – especially when we think about how people use their mobile devices for social media and communication. Maybe it’s time for the staff, with the aide of L&D to bring the ‘modern’ to the business!

I will of course do some Tweeting as @LightbulbJo, on the #PSKevents tag and maybe some stuff from @TrainingJournal too!

I hope to see you there, or tweet me a question or comment!

Read about the event in this blog post!

Making the most of your live online session webinar recording

In case you missed the sold-out Learning Technologies Summer Forum Conference session from Jo Cook, this was a chance to get all the same information!

Click here to watch the webinar recording.


The LTSF17 session description and what is covered in the webinar version too


Click here to see tweets of the Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2017 session.


Click to register for the free Lightbulb Moment webinars with Jo Cook!



Tweets covering the LTSF17 live online learning conference session

“Making the most of your live online session” was the presentation I delivered at Learning Technologies Conference Summer Forum 2017.

Click for LTSF webinar session description

LTSF webinar session description

These are the tweets that covered my session about webinars and the virtual classroom.

Ady Howes had a 360 degree camera and recorded the session. I’ll update this page when we have a video link!

My session was one of the last of the day, against stiff competition of conference Chairman himself, Donald H Taylor, as well as 702010 God Charles Jennings! I still had a packed, sold out room though.

As Kate mentions, each conference session has a person tweeting the highlights, which was the lovely Joan Keevill.

Many thanks to @Obhi and @Designs_JoanK for their tweets.

Remember to download the paper that goes with this session.

And you can also join us for the webinar version!

Conference content – how to keep your delegates enthused

I wrote a blog about a free conference I went to and how it was sales over substance. After recently attending the CIPD L&D Show in London I thought I would share my thoughts again to see what was done differently, and if it was better.

The same… but worlds apart


Both the conferences I attended contained a similar amount of people and setup; an area for exhibitors and different areas for the seminars. This is where the similarities end.

The CIPD L&D Show was not a free conference, though there was a free-to-attend exhibition and sessions. The CIPD L&D Show also opened up the seminars to experts and professionals who had real content and the passion to deliver it, rather than in-house employees.

Nearly all of the seminars I went to I came out of them learning something or going away with a drive to focus on something in particular.

Content not sales

The speakers would of course mention where they worked and their company or institution as it’s a great opportunity to enhance profile. They might mention throughout their presentation specific points of how their company did certain things but it was never done as a sales pitch. Passion was delivered and strong content provided, people would be able to go away and start trying techniques that had been offered.

I know for myself that I followed on Twitter and on Facebook the majority of the speakers at the seminars I went to. I found websites and put them into my favourite resources to go back and reference. Will I convert into a sale? Potentially. Do I have brand awareness? Most definitely!

Separating passion and sales

The CIPD L&D Conference was a great blend of the two; the free exhibitor floor had many companies trying to raise awareness and make sales. This was expected and if you moved yourself into that environment it was the mind-set you had gone into and were ready for.

On the exhibition floor there were lots of free seminars on offer. As I spent more time in the Conference I only saw the Ignite sessions (you can watch them all on Training Journal).

The conference sessions had passion and you could tell it was mainly about people who really wanted to provide some of the knowledge they had gained on their way to becoming an expert in their field or area.

Splitting the free exhibition and the paid-for conference made the conference feel complete and adjusting mind-set depending where you were was easy to do. The previous conference I had attended missed that – there was no divide between sales and content, a constant badgering of sales with next to no worthwhile content.

Knowing what people want


As a delegate we want to come away from the conference feeling the cost of the ticket was worth it for our own personal development and understanding. We take painstaking time to choose the sessions we want to attend because we are trying to maximise our own take away knowledge.

Delegates also understand that people and companies who have attended to exhibit have their own needs and requirements, cost to gain ratio whether that is sales or awareness for the brand.

We want the best of both worlds and can understand both sides of the coin.


I felt the balance at the CIPD L&D Show was spot on. I could flit between the two areas when I felt the urge, I could find like-minded individuals and get their opinions and network with them.

Content and passion and will always win over the hard sale and I saw a lot of passion and absorbed a great deal of superb content.