A friend recommended that I check out Event Camp Vancouver 2011 (ECV11) held just this past weekend at the Vancouver Convention Center. I noticed that they were encouraging people to ‘attend’ as remote attendees for the sessions on Saturday and Sunday so I signed up (plus it was free!).
ECV11 used a live stream, courtesy of Sonic Foundry (@SonicFoundry), to connect the speakers, audience and remote attendees. There was also a group of event professionals from Montreal who attended virtually for the entire conference. Collectively, they were known as the Montreal pod. The virtual audience had a twitter host, Liz King from Liz King Events New York (@lizkingevents). Marc Smith of Amuse Events in Vancouver (@amuse_events) was our on-site virtual audience rep (or as he referred to it, social media concierge). Liz’s job was to encourage interaction between all the remote attendees while Marc facilitated the discussions between the live and virtual audiences. The sessions themselves had Glenn Thayer of Thayer Productions (@glennthayer) hosting and moderating.
The first session was titled ‘Deconstructing the Collaborative Process’ and the speaker, Ruud Janssen (@ruudwjanssen), skyped in from Switzerland to present. One of my key takeaways was the importance of collaboration. Instead of viewing others as competitors, start seeing them as your industry colleagues. That way, you can get together to work on events and improve the quality of the industry. Something else I thought was important was ensuring that there are ample opportunities for success. You need to set up the collaboration teams to succeed. This may involve setting ground rules about communication (what tools to use, when to talk, not hitting reply all), making sure all team members are clear on objectives and realizing that conflict is not a negative thing.
After Ruud’s session, Glenn facilitated a discussion on industry challenges. Things like marketing, generational audience challenges, and technology were brought up. Both the live and virtual audience broke away in groups to discuss various solutions that would be presented the next morning.
The next day saw a variety of sessions including the presentation of solutions, bringing improv and comedy to the workplace, the importance of including mobile apps in events, the exploration of how ECV11 was planned as a hybrid event (bringing both live and virtual audiences together) and ways to make events more sustainable.
From the moment I started watching the live stream, I was absolutely blown away by the complexity of the conference and the collaborative effort from everyone to make it successful. As a remote attendee, I felt that my contributions online were just as valued as the contributions of the live audience. If I asked a question to the speaker, Marc would bring it up and it would get answered. Glenn would regularly ask the virtual audience for feedback and when we gave it, he would discuss it with the live audience. Both Marc and Liz did a fantastic job of really bringing all the remote attendees together as part of the ECV11 community. When Erica St. Angel of Sonic Foundry (@ericastangel) gave her presentation on how they planned ECV11 as a hybrid event, I was stunned to see that she used examples of my tweets on her slides!
Overall, I had a fantastic time attending ECV11. I was inspired by the sessions and all the different event professionals that I met via Twitter. I thought Tahira Endean of Cantrav Services (@TahiraCreates) and her team did an outstanding job of planning such a complex hybrid conference from the speakers, to the online/offline interaction to the mobile app and game! I am looking forward to attending the next ECV, hopefully in person this time.