Is Hearing From Your Audience Important?

Our new technology lets anyone in your online audience speak with you in full audiovisual. Do you REALLY want that?

Yeah! I DO have a question!

When I tell people that FaceToFace Broadcasting (F2F) lets them speak in realtime to an unlimited size online audience, everyone lights up. Awesome! When I tell them that it also lets anyone in the audience join them “at the front of the room” where they can be seen and heard by everyone else, some people pause.

“That could be dangerous,” they say. “What if something goes wrong?”

Naturally, I reassure them that the F2F broadcaster is in complete control of the presentation.

But their concerns got me thinking.

How important IS audience interaction to presenters? Do we REALLY want to hear from our audience?

ARE THOSE EVEN THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?

I may have found the answer at VidCon a couple of weeks ago. The place was packed. 30,000 people watching three days of non-stop concurrent sessions.

Every session I saw was highly scripted, polished, perfectly timed.

Most sessions had no audience interaction; they felt sterile, no matter how interesting the topic or how well presented. They were no better than watching video on a laptop.

Some sessions invited audience questions. These were much better with interaction, humour, empathy. Connection. Can’t get that from laptop video.

But the best experience? The best was seeing one of the speakers, Matthew Patrick, wade into his audience after a session. He spent over an hour with them, and he made sure to speak with every person who wanted to meet him. They took selfies with him, he learned their names, he shot short videos with them, and he gave every one of them a hug.

They loved him.

Every other speaker: forgotten. Matthew Patrick: awesome.

And from this experience, the real questions emerged:

How important is interaction to the audience? Do they want to speak with us?

We can easily answer by asking ourselves if we’ve ever seen somebody, whether live, TV, or online, and wanted to meet them? Of course we have! It’s the most natural thing in the world for us to want to speak with our heroes and heroines.

We online presenters must look for ways to let our audiences speak with us face-to-face. Our fans have millions of alternatives, and if we turn away from them, they will surely find somebody else they can connect with.

But what about the risk? What if we bring somebody into our presentation and they disagree? Or are disrespectful? Or worse?

There are as many answers to that as there are presenters. Each presenter has a different audience, different topics, and a different approach. At F2F, we have a unique vantage point which we’ll use to watch this closely, and we’ll take pains to ensure that audience interaction is as “safe” as presenters want it to be.

That said, the days of using technology to communicate one-way, from presenter to audience, are over. Audiences are naturally drawn to people they can connect with. Those presenters generous and courageous enough to “wade into their audience” will find themselves rewarded by increased audience loyalty — and, together, audience and presenter will create far more interesting and memorable events.

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You might also enjoy F2F.live which lets you speak face to face with your entire audience in live streams, webinars, classrooms, and meetings.

And if you’re interested in keeping in touch: we’re on Twitter, and we’re building our brand-new YouTube channel here.