Now that I’ve hosted a couple of large online events, I thought I’d pen this note to share some thoughts on the choices we made so that you, too, can deliver exceptional events and experiences.
KNOWING WHO ATTENDS IS CRUCIAL
As we hadn’t done this before, we didn’t know how many people would want to register for our first event so we chose a provider that looked reputable and as a result of our desire to help the teaching profession, the provider bent over backwards to help us by waiving all fees and provided extra technical support to help us get going. All good… until the site fell over as a result of the volume we were generating. This kept on happening, and out of desperation we then set up a Google Form that served as our main registration module, and it worked well. However, by making this shift, we lost the ability to share information with our partners on the delegates that their efforts had generated as Google couldn’t provide us with personalised registration links that they could promote.
The second and, equally, important lesson we learnt was that in many regions, forms, too, need to be translated so that those who speak different languages can register successfully. This becomes really crucial if you’re aiming for your event to be global. So, we set up Google forms in Arabic and Spanish and our numbers shot up from Latin America and the Middle East.
Simply put, given the unprecedented circumstances we face, tech providers are continuously adding new features and services to their platforms and whilst we have come along in leaps and bounds since March, there are certain considerations that drove our decision making.
TO ZOOM OR NOT TO ZOOM IS THE QUESTION
In our first event, we wanted to build community and thought that setting up a group on Facebook would serve us well, which it has. For this reason, we used a streaming platform called StreamYard, which has been exceptional to use. We streamed into the Facebook group, which meant that those participating had to join there and we now have a 30,000 strong community. Having an ability to show comments made in the group on the main screen during proceedings also provides for a feeling of interactivity and engagement, which the other platforms don’t do. StreamYard also allows for branding to be applied, which is great. We had lots of positive feedback saying how professional our production looked.
The second consideration we had to make was on translations, as our audience was global. On StreamYard we had to improvise and our production team found a way which worked, but this, also, added extra cost which was unforeseen. So, when we organised World Education Week, with 100 schools each hosting their own virtual platform, we wanted to ensure that the events were accessible for a wide audience, which resulted in our choice of Microsoft Teams Live, which has the capability to have translated captions in six languages. Whilst, we’ve had much feedback on the choice and difficulties faced in hosting an event on Microsoft Teams Live, the benefit of having captioned translations made it worthwhile.
I should add that the accuracy of captioned translations, as well as the choice of languages they offer is questionable, but there really is no alternative at this stage.
In my next post, I’ll share insights on how to host a mammoth event like World Education Week, with 100 virtual events by 100 hosts all over the world!
Hosting any event requires a level of expertise and we really couldn’t have done so without great team-mates, don’t think you can do this on your own!