Blab is a live video streaming tool with chat box / Instant Messaging. I hosted my first blab on 15 March 2016 – here’s link to the recording. I was inspired to do this by an article in February’s ‘Training and Development,’ magazine, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD). I read the article en-route to Enterprise Collaboration TechFest in Melbourne (29 Feb – 1 Mar). The author, Helen Blunden, provided suggestions for How to Work Out Loud at a Conference. Although hosting a blab wasn’t one of her suggestions I’d been looking for a good reason to do this, and could see that it would provide an opportunity to continue the conversation started at TechFest. I scheduled the blab almost on a whim when I arrived at the conference, and then had to figure out how to make it work.
I hosted a 30 minute to get confident with the tool. A few friends who had hosted blabs before joined this session. This was a good move. The tool is easy to use and an Internet search will yield plenty of ‘how-to’ advice. The hands-on practice allowed me to focus on content rather than mechanics at the real event.
What I learned and some tips
Using the Blab tool
Blab is an easy tool to use. Search for ‘how-to‘ guides online and run a practice session before your first real event.
I am a Mac user. I wasn’t able to run blab in my Safari browser (perhaps it can be done, but I couldn’t figure it out). I used Chrome instead and it worked well.
You can add a custom image to your scheduled blab to help promote it. I didn’t know this at first and hated seeing my profile photo every time I Tweeted about the blab. Once I added a custom image I was more confident to promote the blab. I also felt that the image reflected the topic and could attract people to the blab.
Remember to record your blab. One of the attendees reminded me 20 minutes after the start of the session. The next morning I went to a breakfast event where someone told me they had been listening to the recording that morning. (That blew me away!) I have since reviewed the recording both to recap content and to reflect on what I would do differently next time.
Hosting a Blab as a post-conference activity
Before you schedule your blab ask the Conference organisers if they would be willing to promote it, and check conference hashtag.
Schedule your blab before the Conference starts so that you can promote it during the Conference.
Include the conference hashtag in the blab title.
Consider multiple time zones when you schedule your blab.
Allow 3-7 days between the conference and your blab so conference attendees can travel home and word of your blab has time to spread .
Promote the blab via social media and word of mouth during and after the conference. Use the conference hashtag and hashtags relevant to themes and topics discussed at the conference.
Use a mix of general social media posts to promote your blab and targeted posts where you @mention people to invite them. Target conference speakers and organisers, people active in the conference backchannel, and thought leaders in relevant fields. Even if they don’t attend they may promote the blab.
Invite speakers to join the blab. Sharon O’Dea joined mine and it made a lot of difference to have her take part in the conversation.
Within a couple of days on the Conference publish a blog post summarising Conference themes and your takeaways. Curate links to content published by others about the Conference. Promote the blab on your post.
Write generic reusable questions to use in your post-conference blab. (Tip – you could answer these in your post-conference blog) Examples of questions:
- ‘What do you think the key themes of the conference were?’
- ‘What is the most valuable idea or tip you picked up at the conference?’
- ‘What’s one thing you will do (or do differently) as a result of attending this conference?’
Write conference-specific questions to generate discussion in your blab. Refer to your notes about panels, questions from the audience, or questions you had written during the conference for ideas.
What other tips or ideas do you have for hosting a post-conference blog? Please post your thoughts in the comments box.