Have you heard about “EventCamp”? If you are an event professional, and you aren’t familiar with this series of conferences, you need to check them out. In short, EventCamp is a “BarCamp style” conference.
It’s premise is to bring together like-minded event professionals, with an interest in social technology and innovative conferences, to share best practices, learn new strategies and experiment with new ideas and concepts. It is clearly a learning lab. More important, it is an amazing community!
Some EventCamp History
The Start-up 2010 EventCamp National Conference, of which I was a co-creator, along with Christina Coster, Jessica Levin, Jeff Hurt and Mike McAllen, took place this past February, in New York City, at the Roger Smith Hotel. To view details of that event please read my recap blog post. Inspired by the wild success of the NYC event, the above team formed EventCamp Headquarters.
One of our goals with adding structure to the EventCamp community was to provide support for other folks in the events community to hold their own local and regional EventCamp conferences, while we continue to sustain an Annual EventCamp Conference, year to year.
EventCamp Twin Cities Leads the Charge!
The first of these regional/local conferences, EventCamp Twin Cities, (#ECTC10 on Twitter) was held last week in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Unfortunately I was not able to attend ECTC10 face2face, but instead participated remotely, by webcast and Twitter. As it turns out being a remote attendee was a very effective and enjoyable experience.
I was really excited about this event, to see what new paths it would explore. I wasn’t disappointed. The organizing team for ECTC10, led by Samuel J. Smith and Ray Hansen, created a fabulous conference. During the pre-event marketing process, Sam and Ray skillfully managed to build significant excitement and interest in the conference. Their value proposition to attendees, and sponsors alike, was ambitious and “outside the box” in its scope. And, in my opinion (and many others) … the event delivered exactly what it promised, and more.
Hybrid Event HomeRun
While there were many highlights to ECTC10 I am most impressed with how the organizing team embraced and engaged the remote audience. Arguably the most challenging aspect of hybrid events is keeping the remote audience focused and engaged in the activities taking place. Here are 4 reasons why the hybrid component of this event worked so effectively:
Reason #1: Virtual Studio with Emcee — the concept of utilizing a virtual emcee with hybrid events is one of my favorites. In particular Emilie Barta does an “off the chart” excellent job of handling this important work. Please check out the conference archives for examples of her work. She would be a great addition to any Hybrid program.
In addition to teeing up the individual sessions with a “preview show” for remote attendees, Emilie featured interviews with presenters, sponsors and face2face attendees during the breaks. She also assisted remote attendees with some of the small group exercises (see below) by being the virtual point of contact for those sessions.
An enhancement to the virtual emcee process was the creation of the virtual studio, which enriched the quality of the interactions. Using professional lighting and decor strategically ECTC10 created an optimal studio environment for Emilie to heighten the virtual emcee experience.
Reason #2: Google Moderator — the ECTC10 team cleverly used this online collaboration tool as a bridge for remote and face2face attendees to brainstorm ideas and solutions to hot events business topics. It really was a terrific value-add and made the whole process seamless.
Reason #3: Remote Pods Multi-Directional (audio and video) webcast — ECTC10 partnered with Intefy and Sonic Foundry to provide Two (2) remote pods of attendees in Dallas, TX and in Basel, Switzerland. Remote participants at these locations could be seen as well as heard on screen with all attendees via live webcast. This concept was terrific and although it was not perfect in actual operation, it still added significant value, and an additional dimension, to the event.
Reason #4: Speakers Connected with Remote Audience — Across the board, Presenters all engaged the remote participants as much as they engaged the face2face attendees. It made a large positive difference in the event experience for remote attendees.
The bottom line, folks, is EventCamp Conferences are as much about people and real connections, as they are the technology. The significant impact of these events is facilitated by the one-two punch of the already-established personal connections within the EventCamp community combined with the delivery of a well thought out event.
Congratulations to the ECTC10 team for a great effort. We are all proud of you!
I am really excited about the next chapter in the EventCamp series, the EventCamp East Coast, taking place in November, in Philadelphia, PA. Hope to see you there, either virtually or face2face!