West Park Park Bench Podcast - ep06 - Extending vs Hybrid Audience
11:03AM Jun 21, 2022
Welcome, Social Media and Metaverse Wombles. This is episode six of the West Park Park Bench Podcast.
No rustly bit but getting a little bit of a pause because I put the mic fluff on before I started it. And then I wasn't quite sure if it started recording so that's why you got a little bit of a pause but I hope that anticipatory pours prepared you.
So here we are. Episode 6. I have been for swim. It's June the 21st which is the longest day of the year. I am sat on the substitute bench because the usual park bench that I use was occupied, but that's cool, but bench two was available. So thank you for joining me for this episode. It is audience hybrid versus extended. Now before COVID reared its ugly head and made physical event people pivot to digital and what a lot saw as a very scary unknown front. There were some people who had been doing hybrid extended mashup events for some time whether it was the speakers not being able to travel to the venue and being put on Skype calls on the big screen, or whether it was having an extended capacity to your audience to accommodate those who couldn't be there in person.
So what's the difference between hybrid and extended? And this is something that I need to write about, but in my dyslexic capacity, I don't really have the words to go on paper at the moment for what that article will be. So this is that podcast so the reason an audience comes to an event, I hope is to consume fantastic content. It's an opportunity for organisers of events, to bring together a gaggle of talent and insight and knowledge around one particular topic. And that could be an industry niche. It could be a cultural niche. It could be a social niche. It could be a local geographic niche. But the reason those events tend to take place is because you want to do a collection of things within a tight control timeframe and bring people together. So the ideal is that you want people to be there you want to see them, you want to feed them you want to nourish them. And that's not always possible with a physical event, especially if you want to take your physical event to a group of physical people who are actually a long way away from people.
One of the examples that I was privileged to take part in, in the early days of my digital extending audience exploration was working with the ambition programme, which ambition England took a lot of the major cultural institutions and started to help them understand what it meant to go digital and out of those projects came things like anti life and when it shifted to being Scotland the main events took place out of Orkney was one of the events and it was streamed back to Sterling. And so the people in sterling who would have normally been able to travel to an event in a city would travel as they did do but the main core of the event, the actual speakers were out in Orkney, and there was a very limited capacity for travel for time to get there. So a lot of the audience who wanted to hear those speakers, the only option was to participate in the extended audience capacity. So okay, so extended versus hybrid. So a hybrid and a lot of this is is my understanding and part of my practice of how I've come to understand the different ways audience are looked after a lot of what I do is is about the audience and hybrid and extended and online events are about your audience.
How do you reach them?
So the extended wider Why do I call the streams that I particularly produce as extended audiences extended audience experiences? Now, the extension is intended to be a form of mimicry. So you can't be there physically, but you need a seat to be able to see the stage. And if you were in the audience, you would be hopefully sat in a place where you could see the best. You would be able to hear everything properly, you would be able to see the slides, or you would be able to see the films that were running. But the main thing is is that when you're in the event, the core content components of the event, you can hear and see and engage. So you might want to ask questions.
And that is the part of the extended audience that I accommodate. And I do that with a video space. Now there are so many to choose from, and prior to COVID My favourite go to spaces were whereby and Crowdcast. The dawn of COVID Everybody went crazy for zoom. And zoom wasn't something was in my toolkit because it didn't address the things that Crowdcast or it didn't add anything to the things that Crowdcast or whereby were able to offer me and most of that was about ease of access for my audience. So the dawn of zum zum has been adopted into my toolkit because of its accessibility capacity, pure and simple. Its accessibility to do closed captions, its accessibility to provide a pinned BSL interpreter, an extended capacity to be able to have breakout rooms, although whereby has now adopted that model as well.
So, hybrid versus extended. In the theatre, which is where most of my practices is, has its foundations. The the old styles of theatres would have had an opera box and the opera boxes are the box windows that are often quite near the front or near the front. And there's probably three or four depending on how many tears there are. And there may actually even be doubled ones. If the the the the Night at the Palladium. When you have a Royal Variety Performance is the queen is in the royal box. So extended the audience is really the opportunity to have a perspective that you would get from the Royal box. That's kind of the experience.
Now, if you know anything about theatres and the opera boxes, the opera boxes are often positioned at quite a strange angle that they're not positioned for the best view of the stage and you kind of have to sit to the side to look at the stage. If you sit straight on in an opera box, you're actually looking straight out into the audience. They're looking straight up at you. And and in that age where these theatres were built. Dogs what they were for, they were socialised boxes they were intended for you to see be seen. So extending the audience is about being in an opera box but with loads of other people. So during the event you don't want to talk to everybody who's sat next to you. But in the breaks, you might actually want to engage and that's what the extended audience experience is supposed to give. It is hosted usually by me. I am there waiting for people to arrive they come and take their seats in the extended audience if it zoom we can be on camera we can speak to each other you know sort of exchange pleasantries. Get our seats, there's no standing up floppy seats of going past somebody because you see it is a bit further in. There's no working out if the venue is accessible for your mobility needs. If there is a need for closed captioning, we can provide that a standard. If you have a BSL interpreter and you want to bring them with you or you even want to request one, we can do that without any real additional disruption to the event taking place. We're kind of our own little self contained world. And once the event starts
the only camera that you need is the one that's looking at the stage. And ordinarily, depending on the scale of the budget, it'll just be one decent view of the stage, fixed stage so you can see the slides. And that's it really and we have the chat. We have q&a and then because the venue now that you are there, it is usually my hope that the speakers and the host at least engages with the camera so you actually get to see them engage with you. You get to ask your questions, and when the time comes for q&a on the smallest level of an extended audience provision. I take the mic and I ask your questions. If the venue of events has an extended extended audience, there is a provision for us to be able to put the extended audience on screen when we have the q&a so people can see you. And we also have the opportunity to open mics because we have a feed out of the zoom as well as going into the Zoom which is often the issue, which is why it's so great to have a microphone for questions because when there is no microphone, that is the only source of sound for the zoom. So that for me is the hybrid versus extended hybrid. For me a hybrid event has more activities taking place for the digital audience. And it also has a component where the physical audience have the opportunity to engage with the extended audience. And if the audience don't want to have anything to do with a digital audience, they don't need to it shouldn't affect their ex their experience. But if there's people who are pretending physically and they know there's someone who's in the digital audience, there needs to be a provision for that exchange to take place and I've done that very successfully. One of the ways that I did it on a very small scale before COVID We had an extended audience, just like I've just explained, but then in the breakout space in the exhibition hall, we had an isolated corner where we had a bit of a sofa people who come and join me, we could have a screen, sort of a continuity studio type thing. And we had the option the opportunity where someone who was there physically engaged with one of the speakers, brought them over into the extended audience corner and someone from the audience actually had an exchange conversation with them. And they did do business. It was a business conference. So that was a real proof of concept for me. So it can work if it's curated properly.
So why why am I choosing to have episode six about hybrid versus extended? Because I am going to be doing my first extended audience live stream on the sixth of July, so I'm going to be going down to the royal Historical Society's office. They're at the University of London campus, I believe and they're using one of the lecture halls which they use prior to COVID to do their monthly lectures.
During COVID they reached out to me and I've been supporting them with their zoom webinar conferences. Very simple and straightforward. We chose zoom webinar because we wanted to have the option of questions and we also didn't want to play audience whack a mole at any point in time. So audience could be seeing, but they weren't seen heard. So this is going to be down in London. I'm going to be on a desk at the back of the auditorium. We have a setup which uses the AV video capacity of the lecture hall which is built into the lectern.
I've been told they've tested it but I need to see it but I'm going to trust them. That is going to be doing the Zoom capture for the speaker. And we will have the slides shared through a zoom call that's going to be running on the lectern which is quite exciting. So there's going to be computer at the lectern which is going to be running a zoom call. I'm going to be at the back of the auditorium hosting a zoom call that they're going to connect to and then all of the digital audience will connect to that zoom and we will be able to see what the camera from the stage sees. But also I will have a wide shot camera at the back of the auditorium, which I can swap between my personal camera and the camera that's looking at the auditorium so you'll get to see the wider view of the stage. So it's all very simple. It's intended to just be an extension of what I already provide, but there's going to be a physical audience.
Now what did the physical audience get? Why should the audience decide to become physical and not just attend the extended audience component because it's a free event. So after the event, there's going to be a garden party. It's the first time they've been able to hold this event. It's an annual lecture is the Protheroe lecture. It's been running for quite a few years. And you can be there and there's there is a note there's a there's a specialness to being present. But there's also an alternative option if you can't be present, is to join the extended audience and be present that way. And presence has always been a very important thing for me, whether it's hybrid, or whether it's physical, whether it's digital, whether it's extended, whether it's virtual. It's that moment where you're consciously present and your attention is present and focused on hopefully good content.
If you are only going to a physical event because it provides good food, then events organisers, you need to consider your content. Because if your digital audience decide that they will only come to the extended audience because there's nothing in it for them, apart from the food, and the people they meet, that people meeting thing is important, but it shouldn't be the only reason why you create an event with a speaker if you want to do social event then organise a social meal to picnic do an after dinner speaker. But that is for me. What extending the audiences and extending the audience is really the thing that I want to do. It means that I can use the equipment that I have the technology that I have to hand to a budget that events can afford and that budget for the basic package you're looking at top end 1000 pounds.
So depending on how much preparation is involved, but this is a lecture, it starts at five o'clock. It runs till half past six. I then pack away all done. They're paying for my travel. They're paying my usual fee, which for them has been 150 pound for me to do that evening lecture host the zoom. I create the link for them. But apart from that they do all of the planning so I just step in and hold their hand through the Zoom components.
And really that's all I'm going to be doing down in London. So, I will put the details in the show notes about the Prothero Lecture, the Prothero Lecture is about celebrity in sexual and sexuality in the West End. The pleasure quarter so there's a lot of cultural quarters and jewellery quarters and artists quarters in cities that pop up business quarters, but this is the notion of where the pleasure quarter came from. I haven't done all my prep yet to know the ins and outs of who the speaker is and where he's from. I think he's from the University of East Anglia.
But if you want to experience a extended audience event at its most basic join me on the sixth of July. I will put the link for the registration. It's a free event. If you're in London or you can travel down and you want to come to the physical experience. Do also register. Let me know do catch up with me. I'm Caron @pcmcreative.
I'm a creative theatre producer, events coordinator, social media consultant, audience developer and champion. Thank you so much for listening to episode six of Westpark park bench podcast I will catch you next week.