Monday, May 9, 2011

Have Presentation - Will Virtually Travel

Over the past two months I've had the opportunity to remotely present at two different OWASP chapter meetings - OWASP San Antonio and OWASP Minneapolis.  I had been talking with Dan Cornell (San Antonio) and Adam Baso (Minneapolis) for quite some time about getting out to each location for a presentation.  Unfortunately, the travel just didn't line up. At this point we looked at other options and the idea of a virtual presentation to the chapter was born.


For the San Antonio presentation we used Skype for video and audio and the slides were manually advanced on a local projector at the San Antonio chapter meeting.  This setup allowed the audience to see me and I could also see most of the room via the chapter meeting's Skype camera. This setup worked pretty well, but it would have been better if I was able to control the slides.

At Minneapolis we used WebEx. With this setup I was still able to see and hear the room, but I also had full control of the slide deck and the ability to remotely share my browser for live demos.  This worked really well and is the setup I'd advise for future remote presentations.  In addition to the local chapter attendees, the WebEx meeting link was also sent out to the full OWASP mailing list and many other people were able to remotely join in.

In both setups the biggest problem was the ability to clearly hear the audience's questions.  I could hear questions from attendees sitting close to the chapter's WebEx machine.  However, for those that were sitting further away, I needed the local chapter leader to repeat the question closer to the microphone.  In the future, I'd recommend that the local chapter obtain a wireless microphone that could be connect to their WebEx computer.

Audience Feedback

I received good feedback from the presentations. Although it’s always ideal to have a speaker present in person, I feel like two-way video created a great environment for a remote presentation.  Based upon the two virtual presentations I've conducted so far, I'd definitely recommend that other chapters explore virtual presentations to compliment their normal speaker schedule.

Please feel free to ping me with additional questions or to coordinate a virtual presentation for your chapter.

-Michael Coates - @_mwc