At Knowledge Launch, we are convinced that coming out of the first phase of the COVID-19 crisis, learners and clients are going to be dissatisfied and tired of large-scale ZOOM meetings and one-way virtual presentations.

Creating virtual meeting MAPS for this new era

At Knowledge Launch, we are convinced that coming out of the first phase of the COVID-19 crisis, learners and clients are going to be dissatisfied and tired of large-scale ZOOM meetings and one-way virtual presentations.

We’ve inundated them with this type of content for more than two months, and attention spans are waning. Small group conversations have actually been enhanced through the use of these platforms, but to simply assume they can be scaled for larger events represents a missed opportunity.

So, as we enter a new era for meetings and learning, it’s time for new MAPS to be drawn about the way we use virtual platforms for first rate gatherings. We bring four lenses to our unique approach for design and delivery.

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Lens 1: Modularity

Don’t think about a learning event as a one day gathering or multi-day slog. Rather, step back and ask two essential questions:

– What is the essential content that I want to share with my audience?

– How can I reformat the content into a series of synchronous AND asynchronous pieces?

With our current clients, we are finding that you can deliver virtual content in 50- 60% of the time of a live meeting. So, a two-day event might be able to be reimagined as a series of eight one-hour pieces. This allows for sponsors to be able to choose which elements should be delivered as a part of a scheduled event or which pieces could be viewed on-demand or listened to as a podcast.

There is also tremendous value in finding a blend of pre-produced content and live content. Pre-produced video segments allow for branded, high end media pieces that can grab the participant’s attention. Again, participants are tired of watching professional, high quality content presented over a bad skype connection with corporate leaders in front of a poorly lit bookcase in their office. Let’s not sacrifice quality.

However, there are times for the gritty, interactive reality of multi-casts with different feeds. As social distancing rules allow for more groups of ten to gather live, our hope is that these synchronous feeds can have the feel of a talk show which can bring in different spokes of content from a central hub.

Just remember, design your content with an eye towards producing several modules rather than a single event.

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Lens 2: Agility

The biggest mistake we are seeing clients make today is choosing a technology before completing the work described in Lens 1. There are so many creative broadcasting technologies in the market today. Design content. Then, choose a platform that fits the need. Better yet, be willing to introduce different platforms over the course of a learning event.

Consider interactivity, allowed length of content, archiving capabilities and the ability to facilitate switching and multi-casts.

We’ve delivered programs using most of the major solutions as well as new and upcoming technologies. In today’s environment, we like to say that platforms don’t have to be perfect. They just need to create a compelling experience.

Besides platforms, presenters need to be agile. Presenting in a virtual medium is just different than at a face to face event.  So, it is our responsibility for us to make presenters “show ready” for the virtual world.

To do this, we ask two questions:

– What equipment can be sent or used to maximize the presenter’s effectiveness?

– What coaching and speaker prep needs to occur to bring out the best in the speaker?

Our Knowledge Launch producers work to match the best audio and video equipment to the selected platform. Then, we build in time for specific coaching and speaker prep to avoid the two biggest flaws we see in virtual programming: bad sight lines as presenters look like they are reading content and the lack of confidence about where to look when presenting. We provide coaching and presentation suggestions that are as unique as the presenters.

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Lens 3: Physical Spaces

As we enter the second phase of this crisis, it seems as if the numbers “10” and “50” are going to be key organizing units for events. Therefore, one of the key things that should be considered is how local offices and other physical spaces take the place of the traditional hotel or conference centers for learning and client events.

Where we deliver may be less important than how we deliver with smaller groups. Organizers should be willing to think about how small group hosted events could be used to consume modular media. For example, what if a client dinner was hosted in a smaller office where keynote content could be shared and discussed using a prepared set of materials and discussion guides.

Also, for learning events in spaces without specific virtual classroom capabilities, spaces can be created for small group, interactive sets with specially designed seating which allows for content to be discussed. In this new era, we believe that “circles are better than rows” for finding ways to overcome social distancing barriers to create environments for hybrid events.

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Lens 4: Surprise

It is essential that there are new elements of surprise to make virtual events more successful. There are two questions that can help fuel surprise.

– What physical touch points can inspire engagement?

– How can you design explosive, interesting moments in content?

Just because we are sacrificing the type of intimacy and connection that can occur in live settings doesn’t mean that we can’t use physical touch points to inspire interaction. For example, for one client we have sent a literal, branded backpack of speaker’s books and audio material in advance of the program to allow them to prepare for the interaction with the speakers and to drive interest in the program. Get creative about how to use physical items to create a different kind of connection.

Also, think about how small group follow up looks if you can meet after a session. Be smart about the outreach and create opportunities to use the content to collaborate.

Secondly, have fun thinking about ways to insert content into modules that delight and surprise. The concept of ZOOM bombing guests into virtual classrooms has become a much-needed addition to the flood of distance learning. Who are the unannounced leaders that can be a part of a virtual meeting and where are the strategic investments in keynote speakers and thought leaders that can truly make an impression when content needs to be transformed?

When these lenses are applied to an event along with the world class production resources we’ve set as our standard for media production and live events, virtual events don’t have to be a disappointing substitute for live events.  Rather, it allows for learning and client events that are progressive and different. It’s unlikely we see a return to the days when we only use live events to drive learning and client engagement. So, let’s use the painful, unexpected disruption to apply a new lens for the future.

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A new MAP moving forward…

This pandemic is forcing all businesses to rethink how core messages are delivered and key relationships are developed. Nothing replaces the intensity and the warmth of face to face gatherings. However, a new era will force companies to throw out the old playbooks and reimagine the fundamental assumptions of how we learn and convey value to clients.

We’re only certain of this. Change will continue to disrupt and transform how we communicate. We’re eager to navigate these unchartered waters with you and hope you will look to Knowledge Launch as a partner who can infuse this new world with the quality and creativity you’ve come to expect for more than 20 years.

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