After the success of the opening session I logged onto a breakout session that was offered online. "The Art of Engagement: Making Your Conferences Extraordinary, Not Extra Ordinary" with Greg Fuson. His talk was interesting (and right up my alley), but the extraordinary part was the Group Chat conversation that took place between many of the people who were watching remotely. Taking Greg's concepts and ideas, we discussed related issues. Some on the chat agreed with each other, while others differed in their opinions (but all were articulate and respectful of areas that did not match up).
Some of the participants were meeting planners, while others were vendors to the industry. All had quality points of view, and the engagement made the remote experience more robust. Those live in the room could not debate and dive deeper like we did online. Hopefully the others online, who did not join in the chat, also found value in the banter.
A few of those who participated were: Jeanne Torbett, Meredith Low, Deanne Davis, Jay Daugherty, Cory Fransway, Jennifer Kingen Kush, Amanda Clark, Dana Gracia, Stephanie Gimmi, Mercedes Peralta, Judy McClain, Allyson Wagner and Mahogany Jones. Thanks to all of you for creating and amazing hybrid experience.
MORE FOLLOW UP:
I logged onto two other sessions via the PCMA Convening Leaders Hybrid Meeting. In all cases the education level was good, but the live chat with the other virtual participants was what made the experience shine. Some friends and clients were on the chat, and one person reached out to me by email after the session ended and wants to talk more about my speaking offerings for her conference. Thus, one can network without being in the same room!
Overall I have to give the virtual option for this event an A+. I have never had this level of an experience attending a virtual event. But at the end of the day I still do not feel complete - as one cannot really share an experience with other people when sitting alone.
STILL MORE FOLLOW UP:
I had not meant to add more to this blog post, but watching Jeff Hurt's presentation I was compelled to chime in again (Jeff is with Velvet Chainsaw, and a friend and mentor to me over the last 18 months).
His interactive breakout session took the experience of remote viewing to a new level. The way he engaged the online audience was spectacular, and he used the dead time in the room when the live audience was doing live exercises to present directly to those watching on their computers.
His session was hands on for the audience, and it was a great example of how to do a session that is not "cookie cutter". Room layout and having round table discussions, etc.... was a great showcase, but more important was how Jeff behaved as a presenter. The problem is that few speakers or facilitators can do what Jeff did in regards to giving control of the learning to the audience (I like to think I can do this on some levels!!!).
While having someone with confidence and experience leading an out-of-the box session is great, my fear is that some will just let anyone facilitate, and thus it could come out flat (Jeff's session ROCKED both the live and remote participants!!!). He mentioned that training those who will present at your conference is one way... but I wonder if most who speak at conferences are open to such training.
Speakers, facilitators and other presenters must all be seen as partners in cultivating the event experience. It reminds me of my manta: "Just because someone is smart, or has done something cool -- it does not mean they belong on stage!".
Jeff showed by example the importance of having the right people leading workshops, and not just finding a subject matter expert. His point was spot on when he mentioned moving away from SME (Subject Matter Experts) to SME (Subject Matter Experience). His program was an experience, and if I was not already a huge fan of Jeff Hurt... I would be now!!!