How to Put Remote Attendees in the ‘Middle of the Action’

Jennifer Kingen Kush, DES, explains how the Digital Experience Institute creates engagement for online attendees at Convening Leaders LIVE.

MashUp
The MashUp Studio broadcasting Convening Leaders LIVE at the Vancouver Convention Centre

When Jennifer Kingen Kush, DES, Digital Experience Institute‘s executive director, thinks of the remote audience at each PCMA Convening Leaders, it’s definitely not in terms of a passive experience. In the run-up to this year’s event this month in Austin, Convene asked Kush to share what DEI has in store for those participating virtually. Bonus: Her insights about how DEI is designing the virtual experience can be applied to your own digital events.

Tell us what DEI has planned for Convening Leaders 2017 in Austin.

During Convening Leaders LIVE, we will be livestreaming the Main Stage, during the Thought Leaders program, and from some of the most talked-about breakouts. We’ll also feature exclusive online programming from the MashUp Studio—including live interviews, tech-spotlight demos, and concluding each day with a virtual happy hour.

Was there any feedback provided by virtual participants at last year’s Convening Leaders or PCMA Education Conference that you will be incorporating in Austin in order to enhance the online experience?
We are consistently asked about how we design and produce the livestream event; this year, we’ve integrated learning moments into our design. Additionally, we are expand-ing our end-of-the-day virtual happy hour to give our online community the opportunity
to engage with their peers, share their observations, and ask our broadcast team questions. We’ll also be hosting a morning virtual coffee networking session to kick off Tuesday’s broadcast.

What will be different from last year?
This year, we will be expanding our livestreaming channels to include a taste of Convening Leaders via Face-book Live and YouTube. In addition, PCMA will be hosting an Asia-Pacific rebroadcast to offer a few of our most talked-about sessions at an ideal time for this region’s participants who can’t join us during the livestream, so they don’t miss out.

What makes the online experience at Convening Leaders so engaging for participants?
Our remote audience are not passive participants—they are in the middle of all the action. Our engagement plan is a critical component of the event design, from creating interactive opportunities with the presenters, coordinating hybrid moderators to host each session and foster online conversation, to conducting MashUp Studio live interviews to directly connect the audience with our thought leaders and presenters. Each day concludes with our “hugs in the hallways” virtual happy hour to give the participants time to share their “aha” moments and connect with their peers. 

What’s the trickiest or most challenging part of the online program?
The F2F program is jam-packed with sessions, interactive experiences, and evening networking events. Our goal is to identify the best content to translate this experience to the remote audience while keeping the program on schedule. At times, the F2F program is delayed as we wait for on-site participants to arrive from networking breaks and we need to ad-lib and get creative to keep the online audience engaged rather than frustrated with the delay.

Our exclusive MashUp Studio interviews help share all aspects of Convening Leaders beyond the education sessions we broadcast. We work closely with our F2F event-production team to keep the program on schedule. We also note the Main Stage presenter start times in the session descriptions, and the moderators communicate any start-time delays to the remote audience.

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing at Convening Leaders?

This year’s program is really robust and features many amazing thought leaders and engaging experiences. We’re looking forward to extending Convening Leaders through our three streaming channels into a meaningful online experience that allows anyone who can’t join us in Austin to participate from any corner of the world. 

Convene Editors