Thursday, February 23, 2012

10 Secrets - Hybrid Events

Content is King. If content is King then the consort is a great hybrid event. Hybrid events combine face-to-face and virtual audiences and allow you to share your content across a much broader audience. With appropriate use of back channels, either private within the media forum, or on twitter or other mediums a hybrid has the power to connect across borders and boundaries. In our current state of never enough time or money to do it all, hybrid events offer a great solution for bringing together the largest audience to learn and to collaborate. This week Sonic Foundry invited me to present a webinar on Behind the Black Curtain: 10 Secrets for Producing your Best Hybrid Event and these were the tips we talked about. You can also check out the on-demand webinar at the link above.

  1. Start with WHY you are having a hybrid event.
  2. Plan the structure of your meeting to consider how you will integrate the two audiences.
  3. Have an event timeline that allows you appropriate time to setup, test all your lines and rehearse. Long before you go live.
  4. Work with trusted partners - venue, av, live streaming, internet - everyone has an important role.
  5. Create a collaborative space before, duing and after the event.
  6. Consider the whole environment
  7. Cameras are critical - minimum of two
  8. Sound is critical - don't skimp on mics
  9. Define roles - who is doing what before and on-site (including hosts and social media concierges)
  10. The beauty of a hybrid is that you can archive for on demand viewing later - do it!
You can also check out more details on the overall meeting design with the White Paper on Event Camp Vancouver: An Experiment in Meeting Design.

If your association is proud of the education you are offering members, consider hybrid as a way to extend education to your community. If your organization needs to engage employees but it isn't practical to have everyone travel, consider hybrid.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

STOP Bullying

Be warned - this is not a post about events. This is about life and impact points, suicide and bullying.

This weekend a teenage girl from our local high school committed suicide, effectively ending her life and forever changing her family. While we will never know why for certain, we do know that she was bullied, for standing up for who she was, for leading a group of teens in addressing homophobia and for seeking support.

Children are not born with hate and intolerance, they are (mostly) born knowing love and security. It is critical that as parents we teach our children the world is full of people who will have different religions, lifestyle preferences, skin colors and languages, cultural norms and that while we are all different - we are all humans, and we all have one planet to share. We need to model for them and teach them that abuse and bullying in any form - face to face, telling stories behind people's back, on any medium on the internet, via text message or on the phone - it is NOT acceptable.

Everyone has their own story and should have the right to make (legal) choices that suit them and are not doing harm to others. This can be done one day, one lesson at a time, but it is critical that we continue to share messages of mutual respect in spite of differences and that we seek to help others who are struggling with adversity.

The slogan of the 1996 International AIDS Conference in Vancouver was "One World. One Hope." This applies to so much beyond this meeting and its message remains important.

February 29th is PinkShirtDay - join in and make a statement while looking great!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

CMP recertification

Brain Friendly All Day Snacks at
the Vancouver Convention Centre
 Anyone with the CMP usually dreads that five year mark approaching as you have to collect information on what you have done that would let you re-certify. I am no different. This year though has been a bit more fun, as it allowed me to reflect on what I have done beyond finishing (at last!) a degree in Hospitality Management, instructing in the BCIT Event Marketing course (always good for a few points) and producing fantastic events for a wide range of clients, from mountaintops to boardrooms, in art galleries and ski resorts and many other spectacular places.

Thank you to the following organizations that allowed me to share my passion for the industry and for the trends that are continuing to shape how we can do meetings better.

First, talking with @brainstrength Andrea Sullivan on Brain Friendly Food: Changing your Meeting One Meal at a Time at both SPINCon 2011 and FICP 2011 and then putting this into practice at Event Camp Vancouver - spectacular to see the results when you incorporate true brain friendly principles into your meeting environment and meals.

Following Event Camp Vancouver, a spectacular collaboration of many industry partners to create a collective experience second to none in education, connections and relevance, there have been opportunities to share what was learned.   

AssociCom invited me to talk about how we can add social gaming layers to enhance a conference experience - a conversation that still has room to grow!

Trevor Roald and I also had the opportunity to do a quick webinar with etouches on our experiment in event engagement, and how pieces that add to positive experiences can be incorporated.

I am also looking forward next week to joining Erica St. Angel at Sonic Foundry's headquarters in Madison, WI to look "Behind the Black Curtain" on hybrid events.

What is fun about all this? For me and many others we work in the meeting and event industry because we enjoy seeing the difference we make for people who attend, and being able to talk about how we do it and open dialogue and create discussion - well that is why! I look forward to seeing you all at upcoming events and having fun together!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Social Gaming - What can it mean for your organization?

I was invited by Terry Coatta to join him in a discussion on their bi-monthly AssociCom show, a show designed to provide information that will help associations facing interesting times as the changes come fast and furious to demographics and expectations.

There is so much data out there on how games can positively influence collaboration, productivity, engagement and innovation that in my opinion not looking at ways to include them is missing a potentially huge opportunity. if you follow the basics of good game creation, that have thousands of years of history to back them up, then your chances of success improve.

Some of the challenges we hear
  • we don't have enough space to play a game
  • our participants are here to learn, not play
  • our participants are here to network, not play a game
  • not everyone likes games
  • it will take too much time
  • you need a good enviroment and a good process for a game to succeed
  • "we" don't think it will work
Some of the opportunities we see
  • achievable goals a community can work towards create synergy, discussion and a sense of accomplishment
  • you can close skills gaps in a more fun way that better engages participants
  • you can create a common ground to build from in an environment that is safe - a game does not necessarily have real - life consequences but does require that you make decisions that will impact the outcome
  • engaged learners find more ways to make the learning relevant to their own situations - play engages more senses, has more synapses flowing and creates more "connect-the-dot" moments
  • people attend meetings to create connections - as Plato said "you learn more about a person in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation"
  • being part of something bigger than oneself opens up participants to a greater sense of community and connectedness
  • combined depth of experience can be created and positive emotions are created - and as we are all emotional learners this will create better memories and more reason to return
Should you consider adding social gaming to your event? Heck yes! Consider though the basic constructs of your game. It has to have clear goals and rules, clear and continuous feedback, and it has to offer voluntary participation that shows agreement to the above inherent goals and rules. This takes time and clarity to achieve, and it may mean finding someone smarter than you (as we did with EventCamp Vancouver) to build out the game elements. You want to create achievable opportunities, and you also want to challenge participants - play to the highest level and you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.

What can you expect when you add a well constructed social gaming to your next conference or event?
  • better collaboration among participants as they work together to achieve shared objectives
  • unleashed creativity and strategic thinking as participants seek to "level up" and achieve the next goal
  • the creation of optimism and hope - when we can see regular progress, or face setbacks in the game environment and move beyond these, positive emotions flow
  • With success comes a perception of control over our environment and the associated  powerful feelings can translate to our daily lives
  • the release of positive endorphins leading to good feelings (hey you can't argue basic physiology)
  • greater camaraderie among participants throughout and beyond game play - you have a shared experience that connects you to others
  • this shared experience can be with the people in your space or it can be with remote players around the world - games can become much bigger than your physical meeting space
Consider the next time you are planning a meeting or event how you can use the knowledge we have about great meeting and game design and add even an element, test it out and see what the response is. All you have to lose is an opportunity to create deeper connections amongst your participants!

If you are using gaming, or scared to try it, please comment and keep this discussion going.