The Top 5 Vitals for Becoming a Successful Tech HostJul 11, 2022
Like you, I have attended a lot of online sessions over the years. More than I care to count. At the start of the pandemic we had practically no choice but to meet online and that led to a lot of people with little to no tech experience joining the virtual world. I won’t highlight the pain points, I don’t have to. You know them all too well.
During that time, I started documenting all that was going right in online sessions and reframing any pain points into actionable steps which resulted in me writing a playbook for other tech hosts to work from.
Prior to the pandemic, for a few years I worked at a tech start up that turned into a full-blown systems engineering company. Now please know that I was not a developer or techie of any kind.
I was on the Visioneering team along with other visual practitioners. Others in the company led with tech. And I worked with markers on paper. I was analog. So when I started tech hosting, I wasn’t an IT person.
But when the pandemic hit, I had been teaching online for a few years and had just started facilitating online. So I got hit with all kinds of questions about tech. Teachers and other visual practitioners wanted to know what I was using and I quickly came up with a "top 5" list of things needed to be successful online.
I now call them the Top 5 Vitals of become a Successful Tech Host.
You can grab a copy of the PDF handout here.
Just like the human body vital signs: body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, etc., we as participants in the virtual environment also have tech vitals that need to be frequently checked, improved, and maintained.
The first vital is your Computer
Are you up to date with technology?
Do you work on a PC or Mac? What operating system are you running? Feel free to put that in the chat.
Your computer should have decent operating memory, a fast processor, large screen or 2 screens and hard drive space to process video if that will be part of your offering or workflow.
Next let’s look at your Internet
Consistency over speed wins every time.
Visit http://www.fast.com to check your internet speed.
While you can function on a live call at just 10Mbps, it’s optimal to have a steady speed of 50Mbps. Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide download speeds in the 100s. Do you know the maximum speed your ISP offers? In my course I talk about how to increase your speed and what to do if you or your participants can't.
Now let's talk about Video
It's important to be seen!
Do you use the built in video or an additional camera? I use my built-in video camera, also known as an integrated cam. It works great! Most desktop and laptop computers have built-in cameras. This is all you need to tech host. I also use the IPEVO document camera to show my physical desktop when teaching classes, facilitating virtual sessions, and for visual coaching. As a tech host, knowing these and similar cameras will help you better support the presenter.
Moving onto Audio
Comfort and clarity are key!
Audio is even more important than video! Believe it or not, audio is what can make or break a session and the quality can make a difference between an enjoyable session and session fatigue. Over-the-ear headset with microphone provides both comfort and clarity. But we dive deep into headsets at THA so you can decide for yourself.
And finally, Lighting
Lighting is also key and will contribute to how you show up, professionally on-screen. I use an 18” ringlight set to daylight so it doesn’t conflict with the big window I have over here. Mixed lighting can make you look strange. And video needs a lot of light!
You are going to want to avoid harsh back or side lighting. Backlighting will darken your face and side lighting will make you look older.
Let's take a quick “balcony view” as a tech host for a moment.
As a tech host, you will check the vitals of your presenter so you can best support them. You don't want to have to be asking them this during a live session. So you will use the discovery session to check these and other vitals to gain their trust and position you as an expert to ensure success.
Now let’s focus on what’s really important: what makes online sessions successful. And surprisingly, just because we plug in our computer, log onto a meeting platform, and have all these vitals in place—it’s not just about the tech!
While having a tech host on hand to let people in, monitor the chat, and help with any technical glitches, there is so much more to tech hosting than that. At least in the meetings I’ve been in and at least in the meetings I tech host.
In addition to Tech Mastery, there are two other pillars to the foundation of tech hosting: Approach Design and Presence. And to determine the balance of these three important skillsets, we measure what’s called our tech hosting APTitude.
When tech hosts have a high aptitude, they become equal team members, even trusted advisors in the groups that they serve. They bring more than just tech mastery to the table, and at Tech Host Academy, we not only identify each student’s unique set of skills and teach them how to sell or leverage them for their team, we also increase their tech hosting APTitude by giving them tools to develop their presence and deliver on an approach design to meet the desired outcomes of the online session.
So now that you have the vitals, and you have new ways of looking at tech hosting, I challenge you to show up to the next online session and leave better than how you found it.
Want a behind-the-scenes pass to learn what it takes to be a professional tech host?
Check out the free training webinar:
How to Create Thriving Online Environments
without needing to Be a Tech Geek
No offense tech geeks! We love you!