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The Chat Panel is very commonly used because it's easy and can serve as a primary or secondary communication tool. Like any Instant Messenger program, users can type text and send to the Host, Presenter, or Panelists, or to all Attendees. If the privilege is turned on, they can type messages to each other. Here, I'll type a message, I will send it to the entire audience, and it will be posted for everyone to see.
When I post this chat message, all participants can see it and respond. Participants can respond publicly or ask questions publicly or privately. You'll see this message came in and is seen by all participants. Private messages are only seen by the person who they were addressed to. When I see Greg's message listed there, I can respond specifically to him and that information then is not seen by all participants.
You can see that that message is labeled privately. Note that attendees can always chat with the presenters, hosts, and panelists, but the ability for attendees to chat with each other is actually turned off by default--an anti-note passing measure, no doubt. If it's a feature that you'll use, be sure to turn it on when the session room is created or when the room is opened at the start of the session. You do that as a presenter by right mouse button clicking on a participant name, in the Participants list, go to the Assign Privileges menu, and choose All attendees under the Communications section here. Then click on OK and that allows participants to type privately to each other.
The difference between All Attendees and All Participants can be understood if you look closely at the participant list. Technically, everyone logged in is a Participant, but those who are not also a Host, Presenter, or Panelist are called Attendees. Chat is an excellent way to manage participant contributions during a session. Rather than take turns talking, which can be time-consuming and sometimes noisy, I recommend that Participants type more and speak less using chat simultaneously.
Typed questions and responses typically come in much more quickly than verbal messages and are often easier to understand and to reference later. Clearly, some points require more detail than is reasonable to type, say more than a sentence or two. Some online courses focus on verbal skills and chat would not serve that purpose as well. In general, chat is a timesaver, because all your participants can respond in one minute rather than taking turns and responding individually.
So it can be a real benefit when you're presenting to a large group.
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