Presenting/Teaching With Ustream

Building upon Wesley Fryer's list of tips and tricks for creating a successful Ustream broadcast, I thought it would be helpful to illustrate a few additional pointers. These pointers come after conducting over 30 hours of Open Professional Development and the realization that poor streams simply don't cut it anymore. Especially when doing it right can be so simple.

In order for a Ustream audience to get the most out of your presentation, you need to give them two things:

  1. A quality audio feed. Unless you're actually showing them important information related to your presentation, there's a good chance they'll get just as much in listening to your presentation as they would in viewing your presentation. Besides, your remote audience is probably off playing Scrabble while you're presenting, anyway. Who are we trying to kid?
  2. A good view of what you actually want them to see. In most cases, you probably want your remote audience to see the same thing you want your local audience to see (which is probably what you're displaying from your computer).

Remember: You're streaming for your remote audience - that portion of your audience that is not currently in the room with you. Because they can't see what you can, it's important to help them along the way.

The Ustream Presenter's Toolbox:
  • A good microphone. Even thought it's a little pricey, I would highly recommend using the Blue Snowball USB Microphone. With both uni-directional and omni-directional settings, you just can't go wrong.
  • CamTwist (Mac) or ManyCam (PC). Each of these free applications will allow you to serve your computer's desktop out as the webcam feed. Unfortunately, only CamTwist will also allow you to place your actual webcam image as a picture-in-picture.
  • Mousepos√© (Mac) or Mouselight (PC). These (used-to-be-free) applications place a spotlight around your mouse. Without the spotlight, it's nearly impossible to follow the presenter in a window that's only 320 x 240.
  • An Alternate Browser. I've also found it very helpful to run the Ustream broadcast using a different browser than the one with which I will be demonstrating. During OpenPD, for example, I will teach using Firefox, but run Ustream with Safari. That way if/when Firefox gets overloaded and I need to restart it, I don't have to quit the Ustream broadcast.
Row, row, row your boat gently down the Ustream.
Now all your fans can truly-understand instead'a bein' forced to dream.

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