FaithTech Conference: Panel Discussion Meets Mix & Mingle

Faith Tech Conference

FaithTech is a global tech community for Christ that helps people in the tech ecosystem find community and steward their skills to glorify God.

In June, FaithTech used Altar Live to host more than 70 guests to tune into "Future Tech and the Gospel," to hear ways emerging technologies are transforming how the Church advances the Gospel. The question FaithTech posed to panelists and to attendees: How can Christians innovate and still remain faithful to the Way of Jesus?

FaithTech used Zoom to capture the panelists' discussion, and then routed the stream through YouTube to Altar Live. Attendees tuned in from Canada, the United States, Australia, Brazil and other countries.

The event began in the Altar Live Lobby state, where early birds could sit together and catch up while they ate a supper or had a late afternoon (or morning!) coffee, depending on their time zone. Starting people in the Lobby helped acclimate new users to the platform. Many attendees took advantage of the tables. Others who were not quite ready to appear on camera could see others mixing and mingling -- they got a sense of feeling part of an active community.

Attendees mixed and mingled at tables before and after the panel discussion

The livestream portion of the event included a slide show; a welcome from FaithTech Founder and CEO James Kelly; and the panel itself, led by FaithTech Institute Director Adam Graber.

During the livestream, attendees met in small groups of up to four people gathered in a row together, as shown below. Even for those who did not choose a seat yet, the visual seating chart went a long way towards creating a feeling of "being there" for all attendees. Not only could the see the names of others, but also who was sitting with whom, and moving from row to row, or hanging along the sidelines.

Watching the livestream together in rows

Regardless of seating arrangement -- attendess were free to remain standing on the side -- all members participated in the General chat, and also in private one-on-one or group chats throughout the evening's session.

Attendees who did choose to sit in a row with others were able to conduct private videoconference conversations -- speaking out loud to affirm or amplify or discuss a point made by one of the panelists. Even for those who did not have audible conversations, the ability to see facial expressions and non-verbal feedback added a "being there" sense that is absent in most online webinars.

What's more, attendance in the rows was self-directed. In the screen shot below, you see three attendees together: myself, FaithTech Global Operations Director Beth, and FaithTech Global Labs Director Kevin Burgess. The three of us have met before, and chose to sit together for a segment of the panel discussion. Kevin, who was multitasking, opted to keep his camera off for a portion of our time together. From time to time, each of us "got up" from the row and sat with others.

Upon completion of the formal presentation segment of the evening, FaithTech returned everyone to the Lobby for continued mixing and mingling for an additional 30 minutes.