Over the past couple of months, I have been receiving some random requests for tips on live-blogging conferences.  First, I want to tell you that I am not the guru on live-blogging; that would be the other Tim–Tim Challies.  Second, these tips are merely suggestions and do not reflect a consensus or common opinion of other bloggers.  Therefore, take these tips for what they are worth.  🙂

Before the Event:

1.  Determine your approach, style, or philosophy of live-blogging.  Do you want to write a brief summary paragraph, reporter style commentary, or a more dictatory note-taking approach?  Challies would be more reporter style commentary, and I would be more dictatory.  I chose this route because of the benefit the posts would be in search engine optimization and future interest among online searchers.

2.  Get all available information on the event/conference.  This includes the conference schedule, speakers, topics, etc.  By this I mean to develop a folder where you have stock images of speakers, links and resources on the topic(s), and other pertinent information at your disposal.  Be sure to have biographical sketches of the speakers available, either from the conference website or from other sources.

3.  Make all necessary headers, banners, and blog buttons beforehand to use to accessorize your content.  I usually have one customized header and one banner (placed at the top of each post).  The button can be used to direct people to your posts via a tagged URL link.

4.  Make sure that you have wi-fi available at the conference.  There have been times when the network was locked, and I did not have the key to access the network, even though it was there.  Not good.

5.  Prepare all posts in a draft mode with appropriate titles that represent the session but also work well with search engine optimization.  Each draft should have all appropriate tags and categories already inserted, along with the banner image across the top.  It is best to be consistent with the titles as well as the structure of the content.

6.  For equipment, make sure you have access to an outlet.  For your sake, carry an extension cord in case you are not near one.  Also, if your laptop has a cooling fan below on the bottom, then a cooling fan base would be really helpful to not only keep your laptop running efficiently but also make it easier to type.

7.  If you are taking pictures, set up an online place for people to view your pics.  In my case, I create a Flickr set on my Flickr page for all conference pictures and refer readers to that album as it is regularly updated during the conference.   You will also want to do the same thing on your computer (that is, create a folder for all the images to be downloaded).

During the Event:

1.  Arrive early and be prepared.  This means checking for wi-fi, outlets, adequate space, etc.

2.  Have multiple tabs available in your browser for your posts.  Examples would be: one tab for ESV Concordance to hyperlink all Scripture texts, one tab for Google searches on books or other stuff to link in the content, one tab for your photo page, and one tab for reviewing your content uploaded thus far.  I normally have my dashboard on two tabs: one for typing, and the other for editing.

3.  Open a non-rich text editor such as Notepad to copy and paste your content as a means for backup.  Every 5 minutes, I copy and paste my entry into Notepad in case I loose the content (which has happened on at least two occasions in the past!).

4.  Create a Word document to dump your completed post after each session.  Eventually, your entire live-blogging posts will be compiled into this one Word document which can be saved and converted also into a PDF for upload on your blog at the end of the conference.  Doing this during the conference saves time (compared to doing it afterwards).

5.  Organize the body of your text with the flow of thought, providing easy-to-read paragraphs and sentence structures.  Cluttered content or long paragraphs discourage readers, and they can easily get lost.  Subtitles or subheadings are also helpful.

6.  Remember to spell check and grammar check your posts at the end of each session.  It will not be perfect, but you do want it to be presentable. Included in this review is correcting and code or formatting errors that might have occurred.

7.  Add any hyperlinks that might be helpful to readers, such as books or resources mentioned by the speaker, including Scripture references.

8.  If you are writing and photography, you need to determine the best time to take photos.  You will only have a brief time to do this, and I suggest that you take photos during the time when illustrations or stories are given, for two reasons: first, it is incredibly difficult to live-blog illustrations and stories; second, it is during this time the speaker is most animated and connected with the audience.  The best photos are often taken during these brief moments.

9.  In my case, provide a brief paragraph of personal commentary in conclusion to each session, sharing your thoughts and reflections on the message.  While the body of the content is “their” words, this is an opportunity to give “my” word on the session.

10.  Some general advice: Type fast; be thorough; be accurate; cover yourself (backup); get plenty of rest; don’t waste your time.

After the Event:

1.  Dump images into folder and begin editing.  Post 10-15 images at a time, giving adequate exposure to each session.

2.  Turn Word document compilation into a PDF to be uploaded on your blog.

3.  Make a compilation post of all preceding blogposts.

4.  Share your thoughts on the conference.

5.  File live-blogging posts and images away both on your blog and on your computer.

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I will say that many if not all of them I learned while live-blogging and trying to figure out the best way that works for me.  There may be a better way to do it, so I encourage to look around on the Internet.   For some examples of my live-blogging experience, go here.  If you’ve got any tips or helps for live-blogging, feel free to share them in the comments section below.