Digital Day Two at WEC

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Digital Day Two at WEC

By Michael Pinchera | Nov 5, 2020

The second full day of the World Education Congress (WEC) Digital Experience kicked off with several education sessions on offer, such as “Inclusively Sourcing” and “The Engagement Enigma.” That engagement piece is key here. With most speakers at this year’s WEC presenting their sessions twice—once for the audience onsite and once for online attendees—digital participants are ensured that the content they’re consuming is not an afterthought. In fact, both of those sessions mentioned are taking place for onsite attendees today.

Additionally, whereas the general sessions and exclusive, live interviews utilized the Freeman OnlineEvent Pro digital platform, the education sessions I joined were via Zoom video calls. One benefit of zooming for this purpose is that attendees can see each other. Even though many users left their cameras off while spectating, the option is there for enhanced communication through visual gestures.

As host Sarah Soliman-Daudin noted while talking with MPI COO Darren Temple during a live, online interview, the hybrid format being used at WEC Grapevine is a great way to expand the community. At that time in the chat, remote participants, such as Jennifer Pitt, CMP (MPI Toronto Chapter), expressed agreement, chiming in with, “So grateful for the opportunity to join digitally,” and other equally enthusiastic and appreciative sentiments.

Emcee Dena Blizzard seamlessly brought remote participants into the onsite general session once again. This included showing off photos from MPI chapter viewing parties and participants’ own WEC Digital Experience rooms at home—and also looping in a livestream with 12 online attendees. The way Blizzard engaged with folks online and in the physical meeting space makes it look so easy. “We’re going to introduce the recipients of MPI’s RISE Awards this year, so let’s ask people in the chat for some goofy ideas as to what ‘RISE’ could stand for.” She didn’t say that exactly, but that was the gist. Simple, easy and fun. Again, peers in the chat had a ball with this—and provided some genuinely creative faux definitions.

Lesson: It doesn’t have to be difficult or a chore to engage with remote participants during hybrid events—and it really helps them feel more a part of the event itself.

As the day wound down, it struck me that nothing significant in the digital platform changed, day to day. On first blush, that confused me. Typically, when using a platform for the first time on such a scale, you’d expect to notice some adjustments made to fix earlier problems. However, the only hiccup I saw was at the very beginning of the Digital Experience on Wednesday when audio wasn’t coming through for a few minutes—and that was resolved then and there.

Focusing on all live content for the online components really worked to bring remote participants into the overall experience.

Based solely on my WEC Digital Experience these past two days, I hope this type of hybrid offering continues at MPI events after the pandemic passes so that meeting professionals worldwide will have access to industry-leading education.

 

Author

michael-pinchera
Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera is an award-winning writer and editor for The Meeting Professional as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997. Read more of his work at www.whatmemeworry.com.