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Breakdown report: shindig

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

On February 2nd, we unleashed the #EventProfsBreakShit community on Shindig, an interactive video-conferencing platform that boasts its ability to create a completely user-driven experience.

Over 150 #eventprofs registered, and while not everyone showed up, we had to pinch ourselves that there were still almost 100 #eventprofs who joined us - for our third event, and judging by the feedback, it looks like #eventprofs are still interested in testing and exploring new event technology.

Shindig offers a dynamic and scalable interface that allows the platform to host a variety of events, including conferences, lectures, seminars, and musical performances. With so many video-conference solutions on the market right now, we were all curious to see how Shindig would stand out.

This was by far the most structured event we’ve hosted for the #EventProfsBreakShit community. Instead of letting everyone explore on their own and potentially getting lost on the platform, our event centered around a 45-minute interview with Steve Gottlieb, the founder and CEO of Shindig. Throughout the interview, we guided the audience to test out the various functions, including Q&A, live polling, jumping on stage, the speaker green room, various presentation options, and video group chat. We also shared our backstage view on the screen so that everyone could see behind the scenes into the backend of the platform.

Photo credits: Shawn Cheng (@shawncevent)

Despite our extra guidance, the feedback still indicated that the platform was too confusing with too many distractions. One of our attendees expressed, “(it) feels like I am on an LSD trip.”

To be fair, we did challenge the Shindig team to unleash and make all of their features and options available, which you would never do in a real event because it would be simply too overwhelming for your attendees.

One area where Shindig really stood out was how easy it was for the audience to interact with the speakers

No doubt, Shindig is robust with a lot of cool features such as the ability to bring attendees on stage, the integration with Google Docs, the ability to add a quick call to action, YouTube and HTML iFrames that enable interactive tools to integrate into the main feed while still allowing for individual input from each participant. Shawn acted as the backstage producer (alongside Shindig’s lead, Adrian). The back-end experience impressed us as it included an easy playing of videos and music - which some people loved and some people hated (damn, we’re a tough crowd!).

It begs the question, should a platform try to do everything and maybe struggle to try and make everyone happy? Or should tech companies focus on doing 1-2 things really well to find their niche? A philosophical #eventtech question for another day...

One area where Shindig really stood out was how easy it was for the audience to interact with the speakers. Audience members who asked a question via the chat or used the raise hand function were brought on stage to ask their questions. This was seamless, with the audience members being able to test their systems and check-in with the producers backstage before going live on the virtual stage. This feature could benefit any event looking to feature an interactive live Q&A, such as a town hall meeting, where the ability to have a pre-chat with the attendee in a green room is critical.

Photo credits: Taylor McKnight (@gtmcknight)

One of Shindig’s most interesting and unique features, and one that Steve is clearly very proud of, is the private audience video chat. On Shindig, the audience can have private video chats while the presentation is going live on stage. The private chat can be either one-on-one (1:1) or in a group, currently up to 6 people. "The maximum number in a group is intentionally capped for a better user experience," Steve said. The intention is to create an “in-room” feeling similar to what would happen at a live event. The result? Definitely a mixed reaction from our community. Although the quality of the video chat was good, many participants felt this feature was too distracting.

Through 8 pages of unedited, unfiltered feedback, the audience felt that to make the most of a feature rich and immersive platform like Shindig, a longer and more thorough onboarding process is needed for audience members. Nevertheless, participants definitely enjoyed learning about Shindig and exploring its capabilities.

As we have always said, #EventProfsBreakShit is an experiment, and one thing we pride ourselves on is learning from previous experiences to make the next event better. During the Shindig event, for the first time, we unfortunately noticed that a few competitors joined the event under aliases. They submitted some bias feedback during the event that may have skewed the audience. Although we can't be 100% sure which comments came from which vendors, nor can we make assumptions about the intention of their participation, we want to remind everyone and to emphasize that the spirit of #EventProfsBreakShit. This platform is meant to be a community for #eventprofs to experience a technology without a structured demo. Both so we can test #eventtech and also to provide constructive feedback to the platform so they can improve their tool. For this relationship to work, it requires understanding and respect from both sides.

After our third official event, it’s become evident that the majority of the #EventProfsBreakShit community is full of badasses who will be kind but tough in their critique. We hope you learned a bit about Shindig (and avoided another boring demo!), and we will see you at the next one in April!

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