Okay we're getting pretty meta here, but stick with us because there were a lot of interesting strategies and techniques that Ann, Allie, and Naomi shared during our lessons learned webinar. So let's jump into see what worked and what didn't at the Untethered Design-a-thon according to the people that planned and executed it.
Look at how far we have come
At the first Untethered event, back in May 2020, we asked everyone that registered how experienced they were with virtual events. Only 4% said they were virtual event experts with about 45% total having some level of experience with virtual events. Compare that to this year, where 83% of attendees are experienced in planning virtual events with a whopping 20% saying they are virtual event experts. That's a quintupling of deep expertise in less than a year. How awesome is that! It's not everyday you get to say quintuple after all.
During the webinar, Allie noted that planners felt comfortable in the virtual venue and were already looking ahead to what is in store for the future of events. Pushing the bounds and testing what is possible is what the Untethered movement is all about, so we're super excited to see that everyone is on board and ready to innovate the future with us.
Intimate settings and co-creation are key
During the planning process, the Untethered committee surveyed the community to see what they would want in an event. Naomi Clare, from Storycraft Lab, shared how they used the responses to design an engaging event experience. Overwhelmingly, people wanted an experience that focused on small group discussions and hands-on workshopping. From this, the idea for the circles was born – combining these two elements in one experience.
And the circles were a huge success! In the post-event survey, attendees across the board said that the circles were the most engaging part of the Design-a-thon. Friendships were created and some really cool and innovative ideas came out of them. No matter their engagement profile, people found the circles to be the most valuable and immersive type of session. Despite all this awesomeness, the circles did not have a particularly high attendance rate.
Ann Plana, from eventcore, noted how people have settled into an expectation of what a virtual event means and the level of commitment it takes to attend one. Unlike in-person events where people would take days off from work and fly across the country to attend, people that attend virtual events try to fit it in on top of their normal work life, attending a quick session here or there.
The problem is that the circle sessions were 90-minutes of highly engaging workshopping. It was impossible to be a fly on the wall or have it going in the background while you're responding to emails. The Design-a-thon broke the mold of what people have come to expect of virtual events, and likely because of this, participation in the circles was lower than expected.
This is not to say, continue to produce virtual events that fit into the expected mold. Absolutely push the bounds and create sessions like the Design-a-thon's circles. After all, they were the highest rated session types and time and time again, people said how much value they got from the circles. Just make sure your audience is clear that they won't be able to treat your event like every other virtual event. Have them set their out-of-office, over communicate what the experience entails, or charge or gate these types of sessions. Allie, Ann, and Naomi were full of strategies to make sure your audience is prepared to get the most out of your virtual event.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what they covered in this session. The good news is you can watch the recording by clicking the play button below. You can also view the slides and follow along here. And finally, they gave some updates on Untethered's plans for the future, so be sure to check it out.
Keep up the great work event profs!