Whilst preparing for the next Skype Show I was exploring if anything had changed on my tenant in light of the announcements made at Enterprise Connect back in April. For those who follow the Skype Show (www.theskypeshow.com) you will know I use Skype Broadcast Meetings as the main technology for these shows. So the announcements made at EC16, notably the Q&A functionality for Broadcast Meetings was particularly useful to me.
If you have ever used Broadcast Meetings, you will know that trying to engage with your audience is quite a challenge. Sure we have the ability to integrate Yammer, but this relies on the audience having a Yammer account, and then understanding enough about Yammer to join the group. This is a major put off, and people who want to engage are often put off by this. Broadcast Q&A will improve engagement 100% and I cannot wait for this feature to arrive!
And it has! At least in Technical Preview and much to my excitement!
Broadcast Meeting Q&A
First off I discovered that on being accepted on the preview I had a new PowerShell parameter I could set against by Broadcast Meeting Configuration called EnableTechPreviewFeatures. By default this is FALSE. So I changed this to true and waited 1 hour for replication between Office 365 and Broadcast Meeting Portal. When this enters mainstream I expect to see a parameter here allowing Q&A specifically, or not.
On creating a new meeting in the broadcast portal, not much is different until you add an app to your right or lower panel
As well as the usual Yammer and Bing, you now have Q&A
There is nothing else to configure in the meeting creation other than simply adding it to the meeting
So what does this look like to an audience member?
A few observations off the bat, we can choose to ask a question using my name, or anonymously. If using name, then you must be joined as a signed in account, if you are joining an anonymous meeting, you can only ask anonymously. You can ask questions before the broadcast starts, during and after (unless closed by a moderator).
Do the presenters see the Q&A in the Skype client like Lync meeting Q&A? No, but this is a good thing, because as a presenter you don’t want to be distracted from your presentation.
So what ‘s the formatting like?
A couple of notes here, the replies to the main question appear joined below. In my opinion this is a bit hard to follow and needs indenting a little. Perhaps this will change in the general release.. New replies to your questions are indicated with a orange dot next to “my questions”
So how do moderators join the Q&A? From the broadcast portal click on the in progress meeting, under attendee settings you see an option to open Q&A.
This opens the moderator site.
Here the moderator has more options. The first function is to call out the use of the “close qna” button. If you do not want Q&A to start prior to the meeting start then close the Q&A after meeting creation. If can be opened and closed multiple times.
The next feature is the ability to make an announcement. The announcement will appear above the questions like so
The moderator has the opportunity to mark questions as read and reply to questions as you would expect. The next feature to point out is the ability to broadcast a question.
This is used to bring particular attention to a question and answer it, and then offer it out to everyone with the ability to vote against it
These broadcast messages will appear in the “top” tab of the Q&A app, and audience members can “like” the message
Another feature in the broadcast portal is to download the Q&A to CSV file
However, at the time of writing it looks like Microsoft are still refining this..
From the exploring I have done so far, this is a real win for broadcast meetings and I cannot wait to try it out on the next episode of the Skype Show.
Some improvement ideas perhaps:
- Ability to copy and paste images into questions
- Ability to use Skype Emoticons
- Ability to attach file for download in reply or as an announcement (moderator only)
- Ability for audience members to vote on their peer questions without having to rely on moderator broadcast
- Simple poll functionality
On-Demand Playback Control
Another feature sneaking its way in is now we have the ability to choose whether or not we want to allow after meeting playback. Previously we could only choose to enable recording or not. Enabling recording allowed playback during and after the broadcast.
Now, we can record the meeting as normal, but prevent the playback after the meeting has ended. This allows us to still download the recording but as you can imagine, people joining after the meeting to watch will not be able to view it using the attend link
You can even change this setting between allow and deny post event which is a good idea!