Virtual Participation

James Proclaims (4)

The other day I had to attend a conference of sorts. It’s not a regular feature of my job but it happens once in a while. In normal times ‘attending’ would have meant driving or travelling by train for an hour or so, rolling up at a venue, enjoying some free coffee (and hopefully a pastry or two) and later in the day enjoying a free lunch. And more coffee. In between refreshments there would have been a lot of listening to people speaking and possibly some smaller workshops to attend.

I would probably have found the non-refreshment bits dull, but no doubt would have hooked up with some other irreverent delegates early on and have spent much of the day making snide comments about the various speakers while being careful not to be overheard by anyone ‘important’ and making sure that I understood enough of the ‘key messages’ so that I could sound well-informed if I got lumbered with having to join a group discussion.

As things stood, there were no free refreshments and indeed no similarly disdainful delegates (at least not in the same room as me) because I had to attend this conference ‘virtually’. As this had originally been planned as a ‘face-to-face’ experience, the updated agenda had failed to omit the ‘refreshment breaks’ so to add insult to injury the free coffee was advertised but not provided.

Much of the agenda still required some level of participation, and some live sessions where there was an expectation of switching on both microphone and camera so people could see and hear that I was present, but others involved sitting and listening with both microphone and camera switched off, so theoretically I could have just logged in and then gone away and done something completely different. Of course I would never do that and there are no witnesses who can prove otherwise.

The keynote speaker, however, went one better, pre-recorded his speech and uploaded it to YouTube. Now I’m not saying that it was a boring speech, because this man is my boss’s boss’s boss (or quite possibly my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss) and while there is literally no chance he would ever condescend to read my little blog, it wouldn’t be prudent, even on this little-read forum, to declare that he is a boring man. But I think that even he would agree that the most inspiring key note speech is still going to have to be pretty fantastic to beat some of the other offerings that appear in the suggestions alongside the video on YouTube.

Some examples of which were:

  • 10 Amazing Action Scenes From Terrible Movies
  • The Real Voice Of Darth Vader….Hilarious!
  • 20 Things You Somehow Missed In The Matrix
  • The Darkest TV Finales In History
  • 10 Horror Movie Fates Worse Than Death
  • 10 British Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Original

The list could go on. I’m definitely not admitting that I clicked on any of those links rather than listening to the Keynote Speech.

Of course I listened to the Keynote Speech.

But if I hadn’t, I’m not sure how anyone would know…

  20 comments for “Virtual Participation

  1. February 15, 2021 at 5:39 am

    Oh, of course you wouldn’t, James. Everyone who frequents your blog knows what sort of character you are, er, made of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 21, 2021 at 4:53 pm

      I’m pretty sure he knows nothing about me, and I’m in no hurry to change that

      Liked by 1 person

  2. February 15, 2021 at 6:53 am virtual coffee…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. February 15, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Did you suggest that all future speaches should be on YouTube as well? Just, you know, to give people the opportunity to watch them again?

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 21, 2021 at 4:54 pm

      I expect they will be but post Covid we’ll all have to gather together in a room to watch them…

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 21, 2021 at 4:56 pm

        Ah well, there’s your goal. Get sufficiently senior that you can send some other poor sod 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  4. February 15, 2021 at 7:58 am

    Your concern is laudable.
    The aim of a conference speaker is to know that the presentation has been delivered. Whether it has been absorbed or not is totally irrelevant. ‘Pontificate not educate’ are the watchwords.
    Leaving a virtual meeting to look at Youtube is far more respectful to the speaker than nodding off in a conference centre, therefore, if you did absent yourself (theoretically speaking) then you would have probably exceeded the speaker’s expectations and are unlikely to face repercussions. After all, good time-management is the key to raising productivity.
    If you have drifted off to do something else rather than read this, I would fully understand, as I have done my job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 21, 2021 at 4:55 pm

      Pontification was certainly there in abundance


  5. February 15, 2021 at 8:37 am

    “so to add insult to injury the free coffee was advertised but not provided.”

    That’s just cruel.

    Liked by 2 people

    • February 21, 2021 at 4:56 pm

      I did ensure that coffee was provided, but, even though it was much better than the normal coffee, it wasn’t free so it didn’t actually taste as good.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. February 15, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    We know. Oh, we know. Next time try covering the camera!

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 21, 2021 at 4:57 pm

      I think that comment says more about you than me Peter. However the camera has been removed entirely.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. February 15, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    That made me laugh. I wonder how many views the key note speech got – it would be rather amusing to the rest of us if he found his way to your blog and made a key note comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 21, 2021 at 4:58 pm

      It would slightly less amusing for me I fear, but fortunately I am the definition of nonentity in his eyes.


  8. February 15, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    I would have watched any number of YouTube video’s. Then if my boss would have asked if I watched the YouTube thing I would tell him yes. The last Zoom meeting I went to Someone provided Ice cream, It was me

    Laughter is easy to find

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 21, 2021 at 4:58 pm

      You are a considerate host

      Liked by 1 person

  9. February 16, 2021 at 2:43 am

    I could definitely relate to what you were saying about the in-person professional development. The high point really is a few pastries and refreshments. We had a few hours of PD about a month ago on Zoom, and it was supposed to be two gruelling hours. The woman presenting went 20 minutes overtime and I was ready throttle her. It felt like the longest 20 minutes of my life. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 21, 2021 at 4:59 pm

      There is never an excuse for going over the allotted time. Ever. We get the unions involved for less.

      Liked by 1 person

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