How To Design An Effective Hybrid Event [Webcast & Slides]

Ray Hansen and I traveled to Madison, Wisconsin to record a live webcast/webinar on our Lessons Learned in Building the Hybrid Event at Event Camp Twin Cities.  Here are the slides and link to the video archive from that presentation.

[slideshare id=5585158&doc=ectc10casestudy-101027132325-phpapp02]

Watch Archived Webcast

(Watch) This presentation starts with a photo slideshow from the live Event Camp Twin Cities event. Then we dive into the presentation.

It is hard to pack so much into a 45 minute presentation. Actually, we left out a ton of stuff from the presentation – sometimes intentionally and sometimes by accident. (The timeclock was ticking.)

For example, we didn’t talk much about planning and objective setting, because we assumed that most people will have already taken that step before starting. Also, we didn’t talk much about the Technology Recipe – because I did that in the post: Nacho Mama’s Hybrid Event Recipe.

Thirteen Points From The Webcast

  1. Most hybrid events are like bad public access television
  2. Most attendees are in cubes & you dare them to not be distracted
  3. “Live” TV are a good model for hybrid/virtual
  4. Hosts that bridge the live & remote are imperative
  5. Additional programming keeps the virtual audience’s attention
  6. Your technology should support your objectives (indirectly made)
  7. Incorporate input from remote locations (Your PODS)
  8. Use business games, group projects, etc to turn viewers into participants
  9. Integrate remote presentations from other locations
  10. Two-way communication with f2f & remote is important
  11. Program for your f2f, POD and remote audiences
  12. Plan for sharable content & ideas to help extend your reach
  13. Define team roles and prepare

Bottom Line

Planning a good hybrid event requires much more than putting a camera in the back of the room and pushing record. You need to design and plan an experience that will connect and engage your remote audience.

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Are You Using Events To Get Your Mojo Back?

Let’s face it. The past two years have been rough on most North American and European corporations. With the budget cuts, layoffs and bad press, it isn’t hard to figure out why everyone around the office is in a sour mood.

All of this negativity can make the daily grind even more challenging. People are more snippy around the water cooler. There is lots of finger pointing, complaining, etc.

It is easy to forget why you are great. It is easy to forget what makes you so special. In other words, it is easy for you to lose your mojo.

Helping Employees Appreciate Your Company

It’s time that we “flip” the conversation. We need to start talking about what we do have instead of what we don’t have. If you are a fortune 500 company, you aren’t going to go away overnight. Things might be rough, today, but there still has to be something for you to celebrate.

Maybe it is your new product pipeline. Maybe it is your best in class customer service. Maybe it is your awesome channel power. Maybe it is your organization’s ability to persevere.

Whatever it is – are you using your internal events to rediscover your magic and appreciate it? You should.

5,000 Events for 5,000 people

This summer, I was part of an event team that took employees of a medical company on a personal journey to reconnect with their company. We brought manufacturing, operations, R&D, marketing and the top leadership together. Then, we created a museum type environment where they could go rediscover the great things about their company. Their awesome products, their awesome patients, their awesome physicans, and….their awesome colleagues.

For most of these employees, it was the first time that they had ever met the people who depended on them – their customers, their physicians and their leadership. For most of these employees it was the first time that they had stood shoulder to shoulder with each other.

While the event was remarkably busy  (5,000 people can do that to you!) – at one moment, I caught the CEO enjoying a silent moment watching videos that employees had created about the best kept secrets of the company. He was just listening to these employees talk about what was important to them. It was remarkable.

Constructive Conversations

At this event, my team used Pop-up Workshops (something that I made up), Informal Town Hall Meetings, Employee Tube Video Kiosks, Idea Kiosks and Reflection Stations to get people to release their positive energy and start talking constructively about the future.

These workshops and interactive kiosks yielded hundreds and hundreds of ideas and support from employees. Some came in the form of videos, some on post-it notes, while others came in the form of questions and other comments (digital, written and verbal).

Using User-Generated Content to Manage “Monday Morning”

While the immediate reaction to the event was – “WOW, that was awesome! It was just what we needed”. The real question is how do you maintain the momentum. What actions do you take on Monday morning?

We talked with the internal communications about this. They took on the challenge of repurposing this massive amount of user-generated content (video, questions, comments, etc.) on their intranet website, leadership blogs, internal e-blasts and in internal company newsletters. Very quickly after this event, the intranet site had content posted and the first e-blast went out from leadership. Regular updates are planned over the next several months.

So far so good.

Bottom Line

One event is not going to work like a magic pill and solve all of your problems. You can strategically use events to reconnect your employees and help them rediscover why your company is so great. You can use events to get your mojo back.

What are you doing to rediscover your organization’s mojo?

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Event Analysis: Lift Conference

The Lift Conference is perceived to be a very forward thinking and innovative conference. Here is an interesting analysis from the May 2010 event that took place in Geneva, Switzerland. It will be interesting to see how they incorporate the results of this analysis into their events in 2011.

[slideshare id=4653559&doc=frogdesignresearchdetailsfinal72dpi-100630144153-phpapp01]

Bottom Line

Your perception of an event’s strengths and weaknesses really depends on where you are when you look at the event.

Have any of you done an analysis like this at your events?

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GPJ’s David Rich on Bringing Digital To Events

Are you overwhelmed by colleagues wanting to add social media tools to your events? Are you wondering where to start?

Start by listening this Podcast with David Rich, Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Worldwide at George P. Johnson. David offers healthy insights and practical advice for event professionals that are wondering where to start and how to think about integrating digital technology into their events.


10 Insights From The Interview:

  1. What is it about experiences that transform people in a powerful way? It takes more than performers.  It’s People, environments, props, etc.
  2. Digital Technology gives us more tactics than we have ever had before – to move people to action. More ways to interact, deepen connections, etc.
  3. Don’t get mesmerized by the technology and implement technology for technology’s sake.
  4. Start with your Goals and Objectives, then understand your audience, then look at what interactions are required to move people to action.
  5. Look at where people are interacting online and meet them there. Don’t try to force them to meet in a new place.
  6. In digital, it is easier to gather measurable data than face-to-face. That measurement can be translated into customer insights.
  7. GPJ’s Digital Blueprint is a toolkit to help people organize their thoughts, develop a plan and not panic. You don’t need to panic.
  8. Digital is a new medium with new requirements. In a face-to-face event, normally the scale of an event helps us blot out distraction. In Virtual Events, the opposite is true. You are looking at a 2 X 2 screen and there are distractions everywhere.
  9. The difference between face-to-face and digital is comparable to the difference between Broadway and Film. In film, you want to be as subtle as possible because the camera can pick up each movement. In Broadway, you are trying to broadcast to the last row.
  10. Meetings and Events are the original form of social media.

Bottom Line

Going Digital is not about using the latest shiny objects. It is about building experiences in this new medium that move people to action. Start with objectives and strategy, look at your audience’s behaviors AND THEN look for the tools and tactics.

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Nacho Mamas Deep Fried Hybrid Event on A Stick

If Hybrid Events had fun recipe names, then the Event Camp Twin Cities hybrid event recipe would be called Nacho Mamas Deep Fried Hybrid Event On a Stick.


Because it sounds unhealthy, irresistible and something that you should try at least once! I imagine it just like the photo below.

Why should you try Nacho Mamas?

Good question. Has anyone ever said this about a virtual event that you have organized?

At 6:00 pm when the camera stopped rolling and the event closed down, I realized for the first time I was alone in my office.  I looked around and wondered where the 174 people had gone.

Or what about this:

It blew me away. For the first time ever, this was officially a hybrid event that works.  It was the whole package. I got way more than I expected. If I had to pay for it – I would have.

If you aren’t getting that kind of feedback, then maybe this recipe is the kick start that you need. It is tasty, irresistible and keeps people coming back for more.

Here is the recipe, so you can go out and create your own Deep Fried Hybrid Event on A Stick. See the finished product.


Team Roles

1 Virtual Event Design Consultant / Project Manager

1 Virtual Emcee: The Host of the Remote Broadcast

1 Tech Director: Calls the show, video camera shots and switches

1 Twitter Moderator: Captures questions, comments and ideas from the audience

1 Soundbyte Tweeter: Tweets Out Speaker highlights under the event’s Twitter ID

1 Main Session Cameraman

1 Studio Cameraman

1 Mediasite Tech: Manages video, audio and VGA feeds going into Mediasite system

1 A/V Tech: Manages the House signals

1 A/V Tech: Manges the Video and Audio Switches for Remote Audience

Equipment and Technology

2 Cameras: One for the main room and a second for the studio

2 Camera Tripods

1 Riser – to make the tripod sit over everyone’s head

2 Studio Microphones (These are linked to webcast – but not house sound.)

3 House Sound Microphones

1 Media Site Player (this is the webcasting gear)

1 Video Switcher

1 Interview Studio (Table, Chairs Backdrop, Professional Lighting)

1 Twitter Hashtag

1 Event Twitter Account

1 Webcast Player (Mediasite provides this – but can be configured)

1 Intefy System (Virtual Front Door that shows video, schedule plus twitter streams

1 Hosting Server for Storing and Hosting Streaming Video

3 Laptops for Virtual Emcee, Twitter Moderator and Fact Based Tweeter (if not the same person)

Various and sundry cables to connect and power everything


Create A Virtual Agenda

Take your event agenda and mix in a virtual introduction, virtual shows and planned interviews. With your rolling pin, neatly roll out the virtual conference agenda until it integrates nicely with your regular event agenda. Be sure that most of the breaks and meals are filled with lively content for the virtual audience.

Next, chop the agenda up into a run schedule and add in different points for group time. Take those chopped up elements and sprinkle in various people (virtual emcee, twitter moderator) and places (Studio, main room and man on the street).

Put the programming in the refrigerator to gel for a few days.

Design the Virtual Experience

Next, sketch out the virtual experience. Sketch out the sights, sounds and mouse clicks that people will experience while moving from your Virtual Front Door into your Event’s Virtual Living Room. There may be several steps and screens – understand them all. Be sure to look at experience, performance, usability and intuitive interface when choosing vendors.

Plan & Equip Your Physical Spaces

Now, you need to assemble the elements that will go into your studio, main room, etc – the tech, decor and people. Be sure that you compare these pieces to your agenda to make sure that you have not forgot anything — you want the flavors to gel together when you deep fry it. If they don’t match you could be in trouble. Then, go find your vendors to execute.

Assemble and Deep Fry

Wrap your virtual emcee, virtual experience pieces and physical on-site elements together in your programming. Insert a stick to make sure that your solution is fully portable (that you can embed it on other websites).

Now, Deep Fry that Bad boy for 60 seconds. Let it sit for 20 seconds (the webcast delay), then serve with a big smile and a group of social sharing buttons.

This recipe serves 550.

If you are making a double batch, consider adding two different twitter moderators. The first is a twitter moderator that responds to comments. The second is a twitter moderator that only tweets out speaker highlights from the main event into retweetable soundbytes.

Bottom Line

There were many people, processes and technologies that went into creating and implementing the Event Camp Twin Cities virtual experience. It was the combination of all of these elements – along with compelling content – that got people to engage in the event.

If your hybrid or virtual event or technology or process had a cool food name, what would it be? and why?

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Naming Events in a Digital World

As we start to bring more virtual and hybrid elements into our events – should we reconsider how we name these events?

In the past, we might have given an event a local or regional name. This name helped the event connect and identify with the city, state, or region where the event took place. If the event was a big one we might add the descriptor “National” or “International” to the name.

What about in the digital world? Do these naming standards apply?

Let’s look at Event Camp Twin Cities as an example. We called the event – Event Camp Twin Cities – because it took place in the twin cities of Minneapolis-St.Paul. The Twin Cities is the name for Minneapolis-St.Paul around here. We expected to draw most people from the area. So, the name seemed logical at the time.

What happened in reality is that we created something much bigger. We had 75 people participating in Minneapolis. Most people were from Minnesota, Canada (a northern suburb) and Wisconsin with a few East and West Coasters sprinkled in there for good measure.  Then, we had two remote sites that had about 20 people in them – one in Dallas, Texas and another in Basel, Switzerland. Finally, we had over 550 people participating live online from all over the world. These people came from all over the place.

Using digital technology, we took a regional event and created a global one. I think that we are going to see more events doing things like this. Calling these events “National” or “Regional”events – just doesn’t seem appropriate.

So what should we be calling these events? The Big One?

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Talking Technology Awards with Corbin Ball & Ruud Janssen

eibtm wwtw logoWhile I was at the WEC, I sat down with Corbin Ball and Ruud Janssen to talk about the EIBTM WorldWide Technology Watch. This award is the longest running event technology award in the industry. The award has been a launch pad for pioneering event technologies for the past several years. Each year more than 45 new event technology applications are submitted.

We talked for about 20 minutes about the award, what it means and how the entries are judged. Also, we talked about what makes a great application and the most recent industry trends. I found the conversation fascinating.  I recorded it and included it as part of the Meetings Podcast Going Digital Series. You can listen to the conversation here: (Listen)

For event technology suppliers, you should listen to the podcast and consider applying. Equally important, if you know anyone that has an award worthy technology – please be sure to tell them about the contest.

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Note: I am a member of the 2010 judging panel for the EIBTM WorldWide Technology Watch.

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WEC Final: Love 161, Fiasco Zero

One of the great things about Social Media is your ability to monitor conversations.

The general consensus at MPI’s World Education Conference in Vancouver last month was that the Twitter conversations were up and complaining via Twitter was down.

So, I did a short analysis on the Twitter conversations from WEC to see if this was true. My analysis was purely structural and did not allow me to do any deep categorization of the tweets.

MPI WEC WordCloud

Here are some statistics:

  • 511 Unique Tweeters on the #wec10 hashtag from 24-28 July
  • 5126 Individual Tweets under this hashtag.
  • 80% of the Tweets (4100) were made by 20% of the Tweeters (97 people).
  • 36% (1826) of the Tweets were “RT” version retweets.
  • The word love appeared in 161 Tweets, the word great in 469 tweets and the word like in 200 tweets.
  • The word bad appeared in about 40 tweets.

For those of you that are curious, the word “Fiasco” appeared zero times.

What do these statistics mean?

First, they show that we can measure and frame the conversation. However, statistics on their own need to be put into context. I don’t have any statistics about the other MPI events to know if these statistics are above, below or on par with the normal tweetage. (I just made that word up.)

Second, the large number of retweets tells me that the twitterati found ideas tweeted by others worth sharing with their own social networks. Since, we were trying to spread ideas and information outside of the MPI and WEC community – I think this is a valuable statistic.

Third, I did a light keyword analysis and found that the sentiment was mostly positive among the tweeters. I think this is great – because at some events – the twitterati can be brutal. If I had the resources, I would have taken a closer at the keywords and phrases to see what appeared to be the most popular. (The wordcloud above is the best that I could do.)

Finally, these statistics give us insights on participation. Social Media participation does not follow a standard bell curve distribution. You rely on a few people to create most of the Social Media content and a larger group to comment and share that content.

A Word About “Social Media Kung Fu”

Live Tweeting during a session takes some Social Media Kung Fu type skills. Speaking from experience it is hard. Here’s what your live-tweeters have to do: Listen to a sound bite from a speaker, synthesize it into a simple 140 character message, type it into your smartphone without errors and tweet it. All of this happens in seconds. It takes practice to become proficient at it. Not all Social Media people can perform at this level on-site at an event. I still consider myself a student.

Bottom Line

If your intent is to spread ideas from your event to the world, then be sure to recruit some twitterati to live tweet during sessions. When selecting them make sure that they know Social Media Kung Fu and have some tools (like a table and chair with power) so they can type faster.

There is a lot here for us to talk about. What else would you add?

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Note: I did receive partial registration reduction for agreeing to participate in the Social Media Guru program at MPI’s World Education Conference.

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The Future of Meetings: Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother?The Future of Meetings was a hot topic at the MPI World Education Conference this week. While there was a lot of discussion around the topic – the answer was not so easy to pin down. At times, I felt like the baby bird searching for his mother in P.D. Eastman’s Story “Are You My Mother.”

Is “Technology” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends some people flying toward technology. This was evidenced by the thousands of attendees that flocked to the many technology sessions to learn about the latest whizbangs and strategies. This was evidenced by the paperless program, the Mobile apps and the Pathable community.

So, it’s technology right? Smartphones and that kind of stuff. Um, not exactly.

Is “Environment” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends others into the “better room layout” and “environment” corner. Joan Eisenstodt, for example, wants pictures on the walls, natural light and flexible space. When she says that many in the crowd nod with approval. Some cheer. Venue Executives mumble profanities. While others would just be happy if the room setup would match the session. “Rounds in the general session room? What’s that all about,” asks one attendee.

So, it’s environment right? Redesign the conference centers OR match the room setup to the needs. That must be the future of meetings. Um, not exactly.

Is “Content” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends others into the “content” corner. These people are talking about content delivery, interactive formats, learning styles, objectives, discovery, etc. They say less time listening to boring speakers and more time interacting in an informal learning environment. When someone says more collaboration and interaction – groups of people start whooping and hollering Texas style. Speakers scratch their heads and ask if better hand gestures would help.

So, it’s content right? Use more collaborative formats. Get people out of chairs and writing on white boards. Um, not exactly.

Is “Attendee Experience” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings gets others talking about attendee experience. It’s about putting the attendee at the center of the event. Ruud Janssen says that we need to think about it like “100 events for 100 people.” Another person talks about interviewing “professional attendees” – the conference road warriors – and using their needs as the model for how these experiences could work.

So, it’s attendee experience right? Design events with the attendee in mind. Um, not exactly.

Is “Storytelling” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings gets others talking about storytelling. It’s about narrative and personas they say. They talk about the strong characters in movies and books that we identify with. They talk about the dilemmas created in good vs. evil situations. They continue on with more stuff that is over our heads – but sounds good. Many nod in approval.

So, it’s storytelling right? We just hire a scriptwriter create good characters, put Bruce MacMillan in a flying harness and get Stephen Spielberg to show us how to produce the stuff. Um, not exactly.

Is “Inspiration” the Future of Meetings?

The keynote speakers from the Opening General Session will tell you that the future of meetings is about passion and inspiring people to become part of something greater than themselves. They will site examples of people coming from remarkable circumstances that you couldn’t ever imagine to do something extraordinary. Since, we are all amazed – we nod with approval and donate $20.

So, it’s inspiration right? We find someone or something that inspires us – like Bruce Willis or the A-team. Then we book them for our next event. That’s the ticket! Um, not exactly.

Is “Outside the Industry” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of events gets others to talk about looking outside our industry for the answer. Looking for inspiration in art, in movies, in design, in Farmville, in nature and in space. Or was it in Oldspice? Regardless, asking ourselves what the Future of Meetings looks like – doesn’t help – because we all have the similar answers. As we hear this point of view, we nod again.

So, it’s looking outside ourselves right? We watch a few OldSpice commercials, play Farmville and “friend” that Zuckerberg dude who created Facebook – then we will know the future of events. Right? Um, not exactly.

So what is the Future of Meetings?

Well, if the future of meetings is not technology or space or content or attendee experience or inspiration or outside factors – then what is it?

I have no idea. I just can tell you that it is not ONE of those factors – it is all of them. As far as I can tell that is the conclusion drawn from the MPI World Education Conference.

What do you think our future meetings and events will look like? or what do they need to look like?

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Note: I did receive partial registration reduction for agreeing to participate in the Social Media Guru program at MPI’s World Education Conference.

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Do You Hear the Noise? One Year Later

One year ago, today, I pressed the publish button for the first time. My first post – “Do you hear the noise?” started a regular conversation on this blog about using technology to tap into the ideas, expertise and opinions of the many to build a powerful community at events.

Over the past year, your comments and retweets fueled me to write more than 57 posts. That is about twice as many as I thought that I would write. Thank you for your time, appreciation and dialogue. I appreciate it more than you know.

In some ways, I think that we have come a long way since my first post. In other ways, I think that we are just getting started. There is still so much to do.

Too many event organizers are still stuffing attendees in chairs and forcing them to listen to boring speakers, uninspiring leaders and anyone else that they can find to fill a slot.

We have to work on this together.

Over the next several months, I will be working on some new initiatives that will help bring these discussions to life in new ways. If you would like to participate in one way or another, please let me know. I will appreciate your help.

Here is a brief overview of some of those initiatives.

> Event Camp Twin Cities. Ray Hansen and I are pushing the social, innovation and collaboration envelope with this event. We are throwing out the chairs, putting attendees in charge of an italian racing team, creating an innovation lab and conducting a social media barn raising. It’s ambitious. It will be collaborative, innovative and a blast! (Learn More)

> EIBTM World Wide Technology Watch. This year, I am joining Corbin Ball, Bruce MacMillan, Martin Sirk, Ruud Janssen, Paul Hussey and Lynn Wong on the judging panel.  I hope that we uncover some great new tools this year. (Learn More)

> Going Digital Podcast. Mike McAllen and I are going to record new content for our Meetings Podcast Going Digital series next week at MPI’s World Education Conference next week. If you would like to be interviewed, please let us know.

Bottom Line

Thank you again for your support this past year. I look forward to additional discussions on how we can tap into the ideas, expertise and opinions of the many and continue to build powerful communities with events.

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