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Work in progress: Videoconference talk at Stony Brook EM Residency

Posted May 25 2010 12:00am

I am about to give videoconferencing another try Wednesday. My friend Dr. Taku Taira (Assistant Program Director at SUNY Stony Brook EM Residency Program) invited me to give a talk to his residents this week. I'm giving my "Tricks of the Trade in Emergency Medicine" lecture, which summarizes a list of my favorite practical tips in the ED.

As with any high-tech endeavor, preparation and backup plans are critical. Taku and I always assume that there will be a technical glitch and we have several backup options.

I recently came across a helpful list of do's and don'ts in videoconferencing by Dierdre Bonnycastle (Clinical Teaching Development Coordinator at the Univ of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine).
The issues covered include
  • Slide font size and layout
  • Pacing of the talk
  • Attire (avoid whites and bright colors to improve camera focusing on you)
  • Be wary of the audience and what they can see (use the mouse instead of a laser pointer)
  • Have a "spotter" in the audience who will interrupt speaker if there are questions.
In my case where I am giving a talk from my laptop at home, I would also add at few more tips
  • Position the camera so that it is at eye level with the speaker. It seems a bit awkward having the speaker looking down towards the audience.
  • Put a post-it note on the camera saying "LOOK HERE". Instead of looking at the slides, the speaker should really be looking directly at the green or red light from the camera. I find it distracting when the videoconference speaker is looking down and to the side all the time. I think psuedo-direct eye contact engages the audience more (even though I can't really see the audience).
  • Don't wear eyeglasses. The light from the screen or other ambient lighting will likely reflect off of them causing a distracting glare on the screen.
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