Millions of members and their families will watch or listen to general conference sessions in homes, on personal devices, or at meetinghouses on March 28 and April 4-5. Participation in general conference now extends to members in more than 200 countries and in 95 different languages. To extend that reach, the Church will post short excerpts from speakers on social media using the #ldsconf hashtag, and viewers will have the opportunity to respond with tweets or online posts of their own.
The inclusion of social media in the general conference experience was introduced a few years ago and access to conference from digital channels has had a growing influence on general conference participation from Internet-enabled devices. Members may now tune into general conference from almost anywhere and use the #ldsconf hashtag to share their reaction to speakers. During the October 2013 broadcast alone, 155,000 tweets relating to general conference were posted on Twitter during five sessions, making general conference one of the most discussed topics on Twitter at those times. Online viewership was up 30% over former general conferences. Many additional viewers watched or listened to general conference after seeing a post on social media.
To make general conference sessions more accessible to members and so easy to integrate into personal media choices, teams of behind-the-scenes technical experts begin weeks before the broadcasts to test equipment and configure load-balancing on web servers to ensure Internet connections on digital channels do not become overloaded. At local meetinghouses, technology specialists set up for broadcasts, test sound and projection systems, and make provisions for additional languages or webcasting. Many others perform translation services so listeners hear messages in their native tongues, and speakers are able to speak in their own language with simultaneous interpretations for non-native speakers.
More recently, some viewers have expressed interest in viewing English subtitles for talks given in other languages. It is now possible from the “Watch Live” page to select the language audio you would like to hear in the upper right hand corner of the web page, and in the lower right corner click on the “CC” icon in the viewing window to enable closed captioning.
With all the preparation that goes into general conference from a technical standpoint, have you considered your own preparation and how you can participate in discussions that extend the reach of inspired speakers and beautiful choir music? To prepare yourself and your family, go to http://www.lds.org/general-conference/prepare-for?lang=eng. Identify ways you can make this next general conference a more meaningful and lasting experience, and extend its reach using your social media outlets.