Global Day of Coderetreat

Recently one of our software engineers approached me and asked about the possibility of ReadyTalk helping sponsor the local Global Day of Coderetreat being held at Uncubed, a local downtown Denver co-work space. I had never heard of this event so I did some reading up on it and in the end it was absolutely something I wanted ReadyTalk Engineering to be a part of.

If you are unfamiliar with this event, it has a very grassroots feeling based on how it came to be. Corey Haines and a few other individuals got together and wanted to create a day-long event focused on practicing the fundamentals of software development. Since its inception in January 2009, it has undergone some changes in format but at the core it has remained the same.

The idea is to get software engineers together to practice their craft. To refine what they do and how they do it. To think outside the box. To get back to basics. To learn from one another. And probably most importantly to walk away from the experience a better programmer. ReadyTalk will have 4 software engineers in attendance at this event on December 3rd, and I'll be attending to learn how to facilitate this in hopes of bringing this event back to ReadyTalk to do on a yearly basis within our own organization. If you'll also be attending a Coderetreat somewhere, let us know! I'd love to learn about your experiences at the event. I'll also be writing a follow-up blog post to share with everyone our experiences at this event, so stick around!

Jason Collins (aka JC) is the VP of Engineering at ReadyTalk and the self-appointed Chief Happiness Officer. He's been either writing code or managing engineers for nearly 15 years and has a passion for technology and agile development practices. The happiness of the engineering team is his top priority and he can usually be found wearing a ReadyTalk cape and the infamous "idea helmet" around the office to help keep people entertained. When he's not hanging out with his work family, he's at home with his wife and four boys doing all sorts of geeky things, like playing video games and watching campy Sci-Fi and Action flicks.

Why Hosting Thanksgiving is like Hosting a Webinar

 

With Thanksgiving just days away, I’m feeling stressed about hosting Thanksgiving for 12 people including my in-laws and the in-laws of my in-laws. But, I realized that if I can plan and host a webinar for 1,200 people, I can do a meal for 12. It’s pretty much the same thing, right?

Planning is Required: You can’t expect that Thanksgiving is going to go well if you wait until Thursday morning to grocery shop (think frozen Turkey). Similarly, hosting a webinar requires advance preparation—invitations need to go out in advance, reminders need to be sent and content planned.

The Menu has to Reflect the Guests: Are you serving mash potatoes without gravy? Are you serving tofurkey (tofu shaped like a turkey) to a group of meat eaters? Planning the perfect Thanksgiving menu requires thinking about your guests and their dietary requirements and expectations. Similarly, your webinar content should reflect your audience and their expectations. Make sure your content reflects their experience level, interests and is accurately represented in the webinar abstract.

Good Conversation is Essential: We’ve all been at a table where the conversation is awkward and forced (did I mention my in-laws are coming over?). Your webinar doesn’t need to be like this. Prepare polls and interactive content to engage the webinar audience. For the Q&A portion of the webinar, put together some sample questions; if the audience is too shy to ask questions, you can use these “fake” questions to get it started and avoid the awkward silence. I also recommend put together some questions to spark discussion among your Thanksgiving guests too.

How was that New Recipe?: No one likes to hear that their cooking is bad, but it is good to know that the rolls were a little over done so you can bake them for less time in the future. And, who doesn’t like to hear everyone rave about how it was the best stuffing they’ve ever had? Use a post-event survey to get feedback from your webinar participants. Find out what parts they liked and what parts they disliked. This will help you improve your future webinars and avoid mistakes.

The Leftovers are the Best Part: Who doesn’t love a good leftover turkey sandwich? Just like Thanksgiving, the best part of a webinar is the leftovers. Recording your webinar allows you to repurpose your content in new ways. Share pieces of your webinar on Facebook and your website. Take the Q&A section and turn it into a blog post. There are lots of ways to use the content over and over. And, unlike your leftover mash potatoes, your webinar content won’t expire.

If you have other tips for hosting a good webinar, or a good stuffing recipe, please share!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

As the marketing communications and PR manager, Bo gets to wear many hats (but her favorite is a tiara). When she isn’t tackling branding, messaging, social media and collateral, she enjoys skiing with her husband, running with her dog and watching Formula 1. You can find her on Twitter @bo_knows_

Webinar Abstract 101 – Writing an Event Description that Captures the Right Audience

 

Not only is ReadyTalk an audio and web conferencing provider but also an event organizer. Many of the best practices we suggest to you, we put into play in our own monthly webinar series. This particular post is on getting the most out of writing an effective and concise webinar abstract. Let’s face it – the abstract is the “face” of your event. It’s like trying to make a good impression and you can’t even flash your pearly whites. You’ve got about eight seconds to capture someone’s attention enough to convince them that this is the event they want to attend. So, here are a few of the rules I’ve found useful when creating an event description:

Define a pain point that your prospective audience will respond to:

Seems simple enough right? However, many presenters try covering too many items in one abstract and target the wrong crowd. Narrow it down. Be clear. Break it out into another event if need be. And lastly, avoid the jargon (even you get sick of hearing it, admit it). Make them realize they are facing the issue you’ll be addressing in your webinar. You are judged on the value & validity of your content. Don’t offer something you can’t or don’t intend to deliver.

Test it out:

You’ve probably written a hundred abstracts in your day, but have you come up with a template that really seems to resonate? Go back through your past webinar inventory and see what events produced the most registrants. Sure – this will vary by topic but what got their attention initially was the description you wrote. Find a common thread among similar topics that seems to work and repeat it! Maybe you’ll find it’s time to take that topic to the next level, beef it up. Target that same audience with a more in-depth look at the original presentation.

Create urgency:

Paint a mental image of the benefits of attending your webinar. Often times this can be summarized in the title of your event. Your prospects may not even make it to the body of the message, so get your point across immediately.  Capture their attention, pique their interest, and push them towards the desired action (i.e. signing up for your event). You have to make them focus and you have to do it fast. Using an active voice and bullet points is great way to do this.

Offer them free stuff:

Everyone likes “free”, even if at times it requires them giving you their email address. Offer your prospects some sort of tangible bonus – a whitepaper, a book excerpt, a template or checklist – something they can take away and put into practice beyond just listening to you speak for an hour.

EDIT, EDIT, EDIT:

You know you’ve cringed at misspellings and improper grammar before, so don’t get caught making the same mistake. Get a second or even third set of eyes to review your work. It reflects on your professionalism even if it has nothing to do with your event.

What have you found to be successful in composing webinar abstracts? Add your suggestions to our list!

No Flash? No Problem!

 

In the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of attention around Adobe’s decision to use HTML 5 for mobile applications and games rather than use Flash. This announcement has led to speculation on what this means for web conferencing vendors that use Flash. You can read Ken Molay’s thoughts on it, Is This The Death Knell For Flash-Based Web Conferencing?

At ReadyTalk, we’ve designed our service to support both Flash and Non-Flash computer environments.

Flash will be around for a long time
While Adobe is no longer using Flash for mobile devices, ReadyTalk expects Flash to be around for a long time on the desktop. Flash is currently installed on 98 percent of computers, making it the best option for easily accessing your Web conference.

For ReadyTalk, Flash allows participants to join a conference in under 10 seconds, so meetings start on-time and without hassle.

We have an Alternative Now
ReadyTalk understands the importance for everyone to be able to get into a webinar or online meeting. We currently offer alternatives to our Flash client that allows those without Flash to still join the meeting.  Whether Flash is around for 10 months or 10 years, ReadyTalk customers and their participants, will be able to start and join web conferences across many platforms (Windows, Mac and Linux) and browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari).

ReadyTalk will continue to innovate on our audio and web conferencing services.  We will continue to support Flash as long as it delivers a great user experience.  Our mission is to create “WOW” for our customers through Service and Technology, and with that, you have our commitment to make sure that our service remains easy to use and accessible to all customers and participants.

What are your concerns surrounding Adobe’s announcement?

 

Scott King is the senior vice president of sales and marketing and a co-founder of ReadyTalk. When he's not working, you can find Scott spending time with his family, running, or enjoying a nice glass of wine.

Engineering Rock Stars Recognized on Labs Day

As Katie mentioned in her most recent blog, ReadyTalk Engineering just held labs a few weeks back. It’s a time for our audio and web conferencing engineers to explore their passions and expand their knowledge and skill set.  However, what wasn’t mentioned is my favorite part…The Awards ceremony! When the day is finally winding down and everyone is sipping on a nice cold brewskie, everyone from engineering puts their votes in for 3 separate categories.

First off is Most Evil Genius – This is the project that could take over the world. Or maybe change the way people think about the ReadyTalk service. OR maybe BOTH!?! Ryan Kish is our most recent recipient of this award for his implementation of Puppet for managing server OS infrastructure. Check out Ryan and his trophy:

The second award goes to our Shiniest Presentation – This project has got bells and whistles and maybe a Keynote presentation with lots of lolcatz and fancy transition effects. And for this go around the award went to the iOS Team for their iOS participant. The team was made up of Joel Dice, Matt Weaver and Michael Keesey.

Our final award goes to the Most Geeky – This project will be pure geek. If Einstein had been part of ReadyTalk Engineering, he would have chosen this as his labs project and pulled it off with a Flawless Victory! And Most Geeky went to David Clements for his presentation on data analysis of polling usage.

Not only do our winners get a very fancy homemade trophy to place on their desk for several weeks, they also get to walk around the office with a great sense of pride…that is until next Labs rolls around. Please stay tuned to see who our big winners are next go around!

If you think you have the next big idea, and could be the next recipient of one of our ReadyTalk Labs trophies please let me know. I would be happy to talk with you in more detail about the engineering opportunities we currently have available. You can reach me directly at Catherine.harrison@readytalk.com or you can check out our Careers Page @ http://www.readytalk.com/about/careers-readytalk.