I attended some of the Marketing Prof's Digital World Spring Virtual Conference yesterday. I also attended last year. While I think virtual events are great for those of us who can't be on the road all the time, yet still want to keep learning and growing, I also miss the face time.
That said, last year pales in comparison to this year's event, in my opinion. It's not that the speakers were better or anything. (All their events are great.) The difference for me was that the level of interaction and dialogue was fantastic!So what changed the game? Twitter.
Attending an event while monitoring and participating in the Twitter stream made the entire thing more engaging. In fact, I had planned to multi-task during the sessions as I've heard many of the speakers before, but still like to hear what they have to say. You know that sometimes you can hear the same subject discussed 10 times, but it's the 11th when a new "light bulb" moment strikes. I'm always on the lookout for those. You know what I mean-those ideas just waiting for you to add shape to them, or the speaker to phrase them in a way that provides a new level of clarity.
Once I got into the Twitter flow, I was so absorbed in the sessions that I couldn't divide my brain to multi-task. I actually think I listened harder than ever because I had the chance to Tweet about what I was hearing in real time. The experience was energizing!And, as a speaker, it made me stop and think about what that means for the future of presentations.
Here are a few of the things I'm pondering in that light:Do you work harder to make your slides more engaging, or create them more as placeholders so people can listen and watch the Twitter stream at the same time without being in conflict about missing something?Maybe you create downloads with the interesting stuff for replays and takeaways and use placeholders during the live broadcast? I found myself bored with the slides in comparison to watching how people were responding to what the speakers said.Do you create a hash tag separate from the main conference if there are two sessions going on at once? You know, to keep the focus squarely on your session.
I found myself watching posts about other sessions simultaneously, and wondering what else was going on in them. Of course, since the conference site remains up for the next 90 days this does help me know which other sessions are worth attending post event. If you're the speaker, it could be very educational to go back over all the Tweets posted during your session.
You'll see exactly which points really resonated.How many different points got picked up?Which of them had the most re-tweets? Is this an indication in higher interest? Or the desire of people to participate in some way?Did some of the re-tweets come from people who didn't actually attend the session live? And, will they return to watch the session post event because the topic interests them? It can also be important to assess the fatigue factor. It takes a lot of effort to both attend, monitor the Twitter stream and post to it.
After 2 sessions, I mostly just watched the activity on the 3rd session I attended. I saw many Tweets about people who were both exhilarated and exhausted at the end of the day. But, I think it was worth it. The addition of Twitter to the virtual event enabled better dialogue. Not just between attendees, but with the conference facilitators.
Ann Handley and her team were posting reminders about things to do, download and attend. The speakers were also monitoring the Tweet stream and sending out messages.In fact, it was almost as good as being there!In the future I'd suggest that people just block their calendars for as much time as they can spare. Yes, you can go back and review the Tweets and attend sessions after the event, but the experience of interacting in real time was really powerful. If you attended, what was your reaction to the virtual conference?
If you missed it, you didn't really as I think you can still register and attend post event to listen to the recorded sessions and visit the showroom.Oh, and for those of you who spent time pitching your stuff in the lounge-you still don't get it.
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