In November last year, Telia held a fully digital conference where they used MeetApp as their virtual venue and hub for all information, interaction and networking. We have met Shani Persson, Development Lead at Telia and co-organizer of the conference, to hear a little about her experiences.
Hey Shani! Can you tell us a little about your event, what was the purpose?
It was an Executive Program that we did together with SingularityU Nordic, where we gathered 120 leaders from six different countries. The main purposes of the event were professional development, inspiration and idea exchange, but the secondary purpose for this event (and any event, really) was of course networking, and we did what we could to facilitate this in a virtual format. For example, we set up a virtual lounge, and then made sure to divide all the participants into different groups that were rotated between different workshops, so that all participants had the opportunity to meet and talk to as many of the others as possible during the event.
You switched from in-person to virtual – was there anything in particular you needed to think about?
We thought a lot about dramaturgy and how to adapt the content to the digital format, for example by having shorter days, more breaks and greater variation in the program content. We mixed presentations with workshops, breakouts, on-demand content and networking, etc.
We also pre-recorded the “livestreamed” presentations, in order to ensure the quality and also control the length of the program items. During the presentations, the participants could ask questions and then the speakers called in for a live Q&A session at the end of each stream.
“We put a lot of time and energy into curating the program and the other content in MeetApp so that it would be easy for the participants to find everything.”
Can you give an example of how you prepared for the event?
We put a lot of time and energy into curating the program and the other content in MeetApp so that it would be easy for the participants to find everything. For example, each program item had a link to the webinar or Teams meeting, as well as any speaker presentation, slides, handouts and on-demand content so that those who wanted to know more could do so.
We also informed all participants in advance about how the event would be conducted and what they were to expect, that they would be participating in three “arenas” – either watching a presentations, participate in a workshop or network in the virtual lounge, and all via the MeetApp platform.
How did you conduct your digital workshops?
Workshops were conducted in Microsoft Teams. First, everyone gathered in a joint session where the moderator began with an introduction of what they would work on during the workshop, after which the participants moved on to separate breakout rooms for group discussion (we had divided them in advance and added links to the participants’ breakout rooms under “My information” in the app). When it was time for everyone to gather in the main session again, we sent out a push notification telling everyone that it was time to come back, which worked really well.
Did you do anything else for your participants?
We sent a “swag bag” to all the participants, the idea being to bring a slightly more physically interactive element into the event. One challenge with a completely virtual experience is that everything happens in the participant’s head and on the screen, so it is not a physical experience in the same way as an in-person event, which can make it harder to focus and engage with the content.
“The participants really appreciated to have everything gathered in one place.”
What reactions did you get from your participants?
The participants really appreciated to have everything gathered in one place, something that was really important to us from the beginning. There were a lot of different components that had to work together; streamed presentations, workshops through MS Teams, speaker bios, PDFs, PPTs and video material on demand, a wealth of information on external websites that were embedded in the app, and also reminders, polls and surveys that were to be sent out.
Do you have any favorite features – something that you think worked extra well?
All polls and dialogue sends worked very well, they were easy to prepare beforehand so that I just had to click “send” when it was time. To also be able to follow how many people had responded to polls and surveys was really convenient, it made it easy to know if the participants have received the message and if you could move on with the program or if you needed to wait for someone.
We also had really good participation in our polls and surveys, of the 120 people who participated, we averaged 80-90 people who always answered, so that was amazing!
“I am very grateful that MeetApps support was so responsive and willing to help at short notice!”
Anything else you would like to add?
I am very grateful that MeetApps support was so responsive and willing to help at short notice, we always got a quick response and there was always someone available when we needed help, so that was very nice.