Creating an online event in times of quarantine — part II
Those of you who read part 1 of this blog know what I am referring to with the headline, but let me quickly summarize for all the others. In the challenging times of the current COVID-19 crisis, Gameye felt that the cancellation of physical events, a main driver for contact moments for us, needed to be countered. And so the Industry Insights Event was born. If you want the details of how attending different industry events in 2019 helped us move forward and enabled us to grow Gameye, feel free to check out part I of this blog here.
The cancellation of physical events in 2020 motivated us to come up with a different way of hosting events. We decided to create an online event to give us the opportunity to talk about topics that are important to us and to interact with our partners, customers, and developers. While this is not entirely new concept we did come across a new platform during our initial search, it's called Hopin. After some exploration we found that Hopin offers many possibilities in creating unquie events so we decided to try out the platform.
Together with one of our partners we set up a virtual event and held it on May 6th, 2020. We developed four, 30 minutes sessions on a broad range of topics. The event was scheduled to fill one morning and Hopin allowed attends free access on a single platform making the whole experience straight forward and easy to access.
I have to say, everything went really well. A lot of time went into organizing this event, getting the platform ready, setting everything up, finding interesting people willing to act as speakers, explaining Hopin to them, not to mention the general planning but everything worked as it was supposed to. We had more than 400 sign ups and in my previous blog I said 'if we have 50 people, I consider this a success'. More than 400 was something we had not expected, so we were very happy about that. Attendees were very positive and participated interactively, asking questions and commenting. All in all we could not have wished for more.
Looking to improve ourselves and being a thought leader is part of Gameye's DNA, so after the event we started discussing what could have gone better. Below are some areas that we will work to improve on next time.
1. One session with multiple speaker time slots. As I said above, we created 4 sessions. We scheduled timeslots and were setting up the 4 different sessions in the system, so it would be clear who would talk about what and when. Although this was very structured, we saw quickly that not all attendees jumped from session to session, although they were still within the Hpoin system. We had to keep reminding people to go to the next virtual session by jumping into the old one, going live and 'sweeping' that session/channel. In the end everybody found their way, but for next time I will suggest just one session and keeping that one live the whole time. Allowing speakers to enter at their scheduled time and removing them after the talk would allow viewers to stay in one place and make it more clear for them.
2. Fewer guests with more discussion. We had a great line up of people, to talk about interesting topics. Half an hour surely is not enough time to go in depth too much, but on the other hand it is not long enough to bore people and still informative. On average we had 3–5 people on a session. 1 host, 3–4 guests and one moderator. Everybody could make their point, but to stimulate a conversation even better, 1–2 guests instead of 3–4 would probably have worked better.
3. Extending the event with both morning and evening sessions. Holding the event in the morning was a conscious choice. We wanted our speakers, who were mainly based in Europe, to be fresh and able to continue with their day after the event. High profile guests are always busy, and you want to accommodate a timeslot that suits them. Being able to bring in more friends from oversees, though, would be greatly beneficial as well, so this is something we certainly need to look into. Extending the event to 2 days and holding one set of sessions in the morning and the next day the next set of sessions in the evening could be a nice solution for that.
4. Focus more on conversations with less visual aids. Hopin is great for connecting interactively. It is very intuitive and user friendly. However some things, like sharing presentations , do not work that well, unfortunately. Next time we will focus more on conversation and less on visuals. There are ways to integrate Youtube video's of trailers into the event, or share things, but to have that directly in a session would be perfect.
5. Encourage viewers to engage more via video chat. We also recognized that one of the coolest features we were able to offer on this platform, allowing people to jump in via video during a session and ask questions directly, was not used that much. People were very vocal in the chat, but did not join the video. I definitely want to keep using that feature and try to communicate it better that there is a possibility to actively participate. We'll see if we can establish that more next time.
We had a lot of learnings from this first virtual event, but all in all the online event was extremely positive for us. We are planning the 2nd Industry Insights Event for beginning of September so we'll keep you updated with the event details. If you would like to participate let us know, we are always looking for interesting speakers! Also if you would like to try the platform yourself, we can give you some useful pointers.
In the meanwhile, stay safe and stay the course!