When giving an online presentation, whether via Hangout, Webex, GotoMeeting or Jitsi Video Bridge, a screen sharing function is how the slides are presented. Screen sharing goes beyond the common death-by-PowerPoint scenario, allowing software demonstrations in real-time.
In most cases the use of screen sharing defeats a view of the presenter. This can make for a frightfully dull audience experience. I’ve long wished for a convenient way to show slides or demo software without completely losing sight of the presenter. I’ve done this myself using tools like Wirecast or vMix, but these are costly and complicated things to setup. That’s beyond the reach of most people.
In a post late last year I challenged the WebRTC community to take up this idea. WebRTC remains a battle with many fronts. They may yet bring forward such capability, but the wheels of progress turn slowly.
Happily, I’ve recently discovered an extension for Chrome called “Reflect.” Authored by Bryce Thorup, Reflect grabs your webcam stream, displaying it as an overlay on your monitor. Thus when sharing your screen, your audience can see both the slides (or software) and your webcam.
It’s been a year or more that tools like Google’s Hangouts have supported the ability to share a host computer screen with the viewing audience. This was rightfully heralded as “a very good thing indeed.” However, it’s current incarnation is considerably less than ideal and seems to be stalled. I’d like to lay out a challenge to see if anyone is interested into taking this to the next level, which is something that we’ve tried to do with a few VUC calls earlier this year.
Here’s the fundamental problem; people use screen sharing to give demos of software and share documents, which includes giving presentations a la PowerPoint, Keynote, etc. Currently, Hangouts, Jitsi Video Bridge and the like show either the screen share or the camera. In the case of slide presentations there can be very little activity in view as the presenter speaks to the points shown on the current slide. This creates less than compelling visuals.
As devices come my way I’m always looking for the most effective way to review them and present the resulting information. Most typically this means writing a detailed description of my experiences with the device, but I also think that supporting images are important to making the material visually interesting.
Recently I’ve been thinking about using more recorded audio (podcasts?) and even recording some video laying hands on the product.