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 At last I’m ready to blog about Event
Camp 2010.

When I
returned home at the end of the day, I was so excited about what transpired
during the day that I literally couldn’t sleep. So much information was given
which made so much more to think about as
the days went on.

What have I
learned?  How can I use what I
learned? What to do next? One thing is wish that there will be another Event
Camp in 2010 and not wait until 2011. I can see a twice yearly Camp. Of course,
the founders need to buy into that! I believe that there was so much
enthusiasm, that there will be many more volunteers and sponsors for the next
one and at least twice as many face to face participants and twice as many
virtually.
 

You
probably have heard the concept of Hybrid Meetings before. I blogged about it
awhile back, quoting and referring to Mike McCurry’s blog article. After
attending Event Camp 2010, which was a Hybrid Meeting and an Unconference I now realize that this
is an even better idea than I had originally thought.

Think
budget. Your organization, whether corporate, not for profit, association has a
greatly reduced budget for some if not all meetings. There are so many
solutions for
Hybrid Meetings that you can use.
The example of Event Camp is the first, having one main meeting streamed to
registrants desktops. Another scenario would be that same main meeting plus
several regional meetings that receive the stream on a large screen in a
meeting room, plus viewers at their desks at home or in the office. There are
countless variations of this, all depending upon the unique needs of the group.

The
founders of Event Camp, all of whom contributed an enormous amount of time,
energy and knowledge produced Event Camp on a minuscule budget. You all know
that’s not easy and often results in huge problems. Most certainly they had
some problems but few were noticeable to attendees
. They did a super job. Founders
Christina Coster, Jessica Levin, Mike McCurry, Jeff Hurt and Mike McAllen
deserve a huge virtual applause and cheer. So dedicated were Christina and
Jessica that they were willing to wear the most hilarious blue furry hats at
the opening and closing sessions. Hats off to them, but they kept theirs on!

Beyond
being Hybrid, the camp was also an Unconference
. Much of the content was developed
by attendees and when space permitted, room set ups were not always theater
style. Definition, according to Wikipedia, is

n:unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose. The term
"unconference" has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of
gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference,
such as high fees and sponsored presentations.

My favorite
was the “Fishbowl” format. Can’t get more interactive and experiential than
that! Samuel Smith initialized the “Fishbowl” session. Once started by him, the
rest of the “fish” joined in the fishbowl. Fish, aka attendees, dove into the “fishbowl”,
replacing a fish that had left the “fishbowl”, had their say and then would
leave, allowing for another fish. It was amazing to see that the concept worked
so well, with no one dominating the conversation and virtually no
repetitiveness. That in itself was a delight.

Some
important things that I personally learned plus a wonderful plus that resulted:

First the
plus: Although most of us knew one another virtually, either predominantly
through Twitter
, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, it was
exciting to meet face to face. The feeling was incredible as it was more like
having a reunion, than meeting face to face for the first time. Many from out
of New York, came in early to meet for dinner and stayed late for another
dinner and brunch the following day.

This leads
to one of the things that I learned: Virtual will never replace face to face
and that Hybrid Meetings will be the vehicle to encourage more
meetings and increase the value of
meetings. 

The second
major thing that I learned is that holding a Hybrid meeting does not mean that
it’s a slam-dunk to produce. Quite the contrary, although there are cost
savings in travel, hotels, meals the actual event production must be of the
best quality. By that I don’t mean high end staging necessarily, what I do mean
is that you must have a production company or producer who understands
production for video so there is the right lighting and sound. If the lighting
and sound are not adequate then your virtual audience will have a tough time
seeing anything
 . You must have good tech people who
know how to work under pressure. Just as that old saying goes, “you’re only as
good as your last event”; if there are a ton of glitches, you’ll lose the
audience and not get a second chance to get them back.

The other
ingredient that is equally important is that your speakers must be dynamic.
Most volunteer speakers are not necessarily brilliant speakers. To be understood
and to keep audience attention a session speaker for a Hybrid meeting must be
able to hold the attention of not just the live audience but the virtual one as
well. He must speak clearly, with inflection, have good content and good speech
support.

In order to
have good audience interaction live and virtual, each person speaking must use
a microphone or their sound won’t be recorded. Sounds pretty elementary, but easily
forgotten in the excitement of the moment. Folks tend to forget to pass on the
microphone. This will be the responsibility of a moderator and a couple of
volunteers or staff to assure the microphone is, indeed, passed on.

A shout out
to the Event Camp Team. They are a group of outstanding professionals. If you want to and should, follow their Tweets and those of attendees, follow
#EC10. Get involved in the conversation. You’ll want to come to camp next time.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dave Lutz February 23, 2010, 7:28 pm

    Pat, great recap of an awesome event! I was a virtual attendee and stayed very engaged. As a virtual attendee, it was real cool to see the faces of people I know, hear their voices and follow their tweets. Like you, I can’t wait for the next Event Camp…maybe in the wilderness???
    Dave Lutz – @velchain

  • Pat Ahaesy February 23, 2010, 8:38 pm

    Thanks, Dave. Event Camp was a huge leap forward for the meetings industry. We could do an event camp in the wilderness. Nothing amazes me any longer.

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