This morning I recorded a webcast with Scott Barber. The recording will be available soon through Tech Target. It was the third webcast I’ve recorded so I’ve been through the process before. Thought I share some thoughts on the experience. And I wanted to capture these thoughts before the day rolls on and I don’t have that still-feeling-it reaction.
The hardest part of recording is that we can’t see each other. The editor lives in one state, Scott lives in another and I live in a third state. We had a second editor on the line and she lives in yet a fourth state. So there’s no eye contact which makes coordinating a more thought involved process than normal. I wonder that people speculate that we’re in a recording studio together but we’re not. Two things about that are tough the dreaded dead air time or worse talking over some one. You do the best you can to rehearse and coordinate how to pass the speaking baton which leads to my concern about sounding canned and scripted. You have to plan the passing but then talk naturally when you’re up – however – you don’t want to stray so far from the slides or the material that your co-presenter is thinking – where is she now?
I realize a few things. In a live presentation I can see the audience so I can assess whether people understand what I’m talking about. I can ramble on, give another example or digress into a whole story until I can see that “ya I got it move on already” look on most if not all of the audience. On a recording, you have no idea. And the recordings are posted and available which means you don’t get feedback all at once either. Feedback rolls in as people pick up on the recording. It can be humorous to get an email months later with people referencing a recording that could have been months ago.
The other thing that’s so different for recorded vs. live – and especially if I’m recording about a theoretical discussion is that I feel like I want my words to be perfect. Well not perfect but I want to make sure I articulate what I think and how I feel and how those beliefs play out in my work. For me, there’s this sense of a recording being like a time capsule that could be opened by many people and so if I’m going to be recorded, I want the recording right. When I present in person if I stupidly pick the wrong word, I can excuse myself, reselect and go on. Pausing and stumbling on a recording feels exaggerated. I mean in a live presentation, an audience will cut you some space as they see you trying to be clear about what you’re communicating. In a recording, no one can see that.
The good thing about a recording just like a live presentation is it forces me to revisit material that I possibly read ages ago. It forces me to think about the reference points in the field and to give proper attribution (which I feel strongly about). Today we recorded about the five schools of software testing, concepts I have touched or read about in ages. And best I can recollect no one’s ever asked me what school I belong to or feel most closely aligned to. But then I again, I was a signer on the context-driven school back in ’01 so perhaps it’s obvious.
One thing about recording that’s great is I feel I can record and preserve my own words instead of being paraphrased or misquoted. And I suppose if I stumble or stutter, well that’s me. I’m not a flawless speaker so the recording will sound like me. As I listened to someone else’s webcast the other day, I was smiling as I could sense the two presenters weren’t in the same location either – I could sense that they’d prepared and did the best they could without eye contact too.
Like any presentation, the best part is when a speaker doesn’t follow a script and just talks. I’ve done about the best I could to just talk while being recorded. There was a time some months ago when Scott and I stayed up until 2 or 3am talking about how we feel about performance testing and factors and variables we look for. It would have made a good recording I think – too bad those off the cuff conversations don’t get recorded. Hopefully this recording captures some essence of us just chatting it up a bit about what we both love which of course is testing.