By Experience

Vlada Karpovich

8 Ideas to Shake Up a (Long) Virtual Summit

Sometimes a virtual summit that spans many hours and multiple days can become, a little, well, ‘too much’ for an attendee.

Whether the content is a little dense, the topic a little heavy, or it’s all just a lot to take in, our minds need a little lightheartedness to stay engaged. (And you don’t want your attendees leaving their desks to find that moment for themselves...)

Crafting ways to keep your audience ‘right there with you’ is key to the success of an event, and one of the best ways to achieve that is to give their brains a break sometimes, and have a little fun. By a ‘break’ we are talking about a short 10 to 20 minute segment in between items (eg. in between panel discussions), or to commence and conclude the day.

There are many ways to add a little ‘break’ to your run of show, and they should be personalized for your virtual summit. The best breaks are entertaining, maybe a little quirky, align with the purpose of your event, and would directly connect with the general interests and profile of your audience.

Vlada Karpovich

Here are some quick ideas from previous Happily events that you can adapt, or use as inspiration.

1. A moment of mindfulness

A guided morning meditation can be a great way to bring your attendees together ahead of a day full of content. Meditations can come in many forms, such as a classic verbally guided meditation, through breathing exercises, or through the sound of singing crystal bowls. We have a menu of talented mindfulness experts and artists that we work with if you are looking to include something like this.

(GIF below) With a DoorDash event, we had ‘Waking up with gratitude’ with Sophia Li for a quick intro to gratitude journaling and writing prompts. Moments-of-Gratitude GIF from DoorDash

2. A game of ‘Never Have I Ever’

This popular game format is a perfect way to adapt the ‘never have I ever’s to your audience with quirky and specific things that only they could relate to as a collective.

(GIF below) For example, we recently included a ‘Never Have I Ever: Breast Cancer Edition’ for the Young Survival Coalition Summit and it was a big hit! YSC GIF 1

3. Getting that heart rate up

There are endless options for including a break that is a little higher energy, to get your attendees to their feet and shake out any restlessness. From classic workout classes, belly dancing, salsa, hip hop, or just a moment to dance along to some classic hits, we can bring to the table a teacher or DJ to make it happen. Dance class GIF from YSC

4. Bring some (virtual) stand up comedy

How about a comedy night to conclude the day? Having a comedians that understand your audience, or perhaps can relate to them, is an absolute bonus.

(GIF below) For example, the YSC Summit had an all-female line-up of comedians, some of whose lives had been touched by breast cancer. Stand-Up-Comedy GIF from YSC

5. A much needed stretch with desk yoga

Chances are that your attendees are going to spend hours in the same position for your virtual summit - which is what you want! However, you do not want them to get stiff and sore. Some casual yoga stretches that can be done from the comfort of a desk or chair, will give your summit attendees a moment to ease any body stiffness.

(GIF below) We did this as part of an event with DoorDash with one of our Happily Wellness Leaders, Tommy Lucas. Desk-Yoga GIF from DoorDash

6. The most adorable break at a fur baby cafe

This is a must for animal lovers. Hosted by a pet adoption center, attendees can meet and greet with some animals that need homes, and hear some heartwarming stories from people who are doing amazing work for animals-in-need within the community.

Also, it is a great opportunity for attendees to show off on camera their beloved dogs, cats, and pets (who are probably already hovering around their desk at home as they watch, let’s be honest).

(GIF below) We did this with an event for DoorDash with virtual pet adoption center, Wagmor Pets Dog Rescue. And just look at all those adorable animals! Fur-Baby-Cafe GIF from DoorDash

7. A trivia moment

We all enjoy some quirky fun facts and to have our general knowledge challenged. Just like a classic bar trivia night, the questions can be as random or as specific to your audience as you like - just as long as they are also fun, of course. The key is to make it visual with some awesome slides.

(GIF below) Together with MJ Sieber, we had some Zoom Trivia for this event with DoorDash. Trivia GIF from DoorDash

8. A live feed of… puppies

On the microsite (GIF below) for YSC’s 2021 Summit, attendees could at any time drop into the YouTube live feed of the Puppy Playroom at Warrior Canine Connection.

It was a huge success!

Puppies GIF from YSC

June 9, 2021

Learnit Hero Image

How To Pivot Your Conference Into A Media Company: Learnit Case Study

Savvy independent conference producers with postponed in-person gatherings until 2021 are now modernizing their websites to offer on-demand content with the help of Happily’s network of virtual event specialists.

By offering on-demand video content, organizers can experiment with new revenue models including advertising, sponsored virtual events, and subscription video on demand. Read on to learn how Learnit, a global education conference based in the UK, quickly launched an MVP of their new custom web platform in less than a month with the help of Happily’s digital community strategists and web developers.

Before Happily On Wordpress

Learnit after

After Happily With custom code

Learnit After

Step One

Custom or out of the box?

The first step is to decide whether or not a custom web platform is right for you. If you are planning to regularly host a variety of content on multiple platforms, then a custom website may be the right fit.

Learnit, for example, wanted their users’ data to be seamlessly transferred between their on-demand content platform to an external platform called Jublia, which specializes in scheduled networking meetings. Happily and Jublia’s web developers worked together to leverage Jublia’s matchmaking and scheduling API with Learnit’s expanded profile data.

In the end, owning your data allows you to create a single sign-on experience that reduces the friction for your user to convert into an action that takes place on other websites.

Step Two

Assemble your team

After committing to the process of re-building your site, it’s now time to assemble a team who can help you strategize around the new business opportunities, design the new version of the site, and put it to code.

For Learnit, we decided to go with an executive-level backend web developer and project manager with a senior level front end designer. While hourly rates may be higher on the executive levels, the time saved in reduced errors can be invaluable for projects with a tight turn-around time.

In the future, we can always save money later by reducing down to a lower level developer once the site is launched. Spending a little more upfront for expertise in the architecture stage though, can truly by invaluable.

Learnit Step Three

Step Three

Build user personas and workflows

Now it’s time to begin to create user personas. This exercise greatly helps the entire team to built empathy for your users and get clarity on the experience design. It will also shine a light on assumptions about your user’s motivations and needs that should be tested before writing code.

In Learnit’s case, we spent two hours getting to understand the organization’s mission, objectives, and core revenue-generating products as well as mapping out the workflow for their two main user personas. This exercise helped us all to determine priorities for building the site and communicating the nuanced interactions that create a Learnit brand experience.

User personas and workflows are critical steps to the start of any new product feature and most definitely for the launch of a new website with your team!

Learnit Step Four

Step Four

Create a sitemap

With a greater understanding for the desired user workflow, we can then layout a visual representation of how the pages on the website will come interact with each other. Like user personas, the sitemap is an essential part of helping everyone on the team know exactly what they’re building.

Moving too fast can get you into trouble sometimes. With a deadline of 10 business days to launch a fully rebuilt website, we made a sitemap only once at the proposal / scoping phase of the project and didn’t get a chance to update it during the sprint.

Lesson learned: a sitemap is truly a living document and, no matter what the time pressures may be, the small time it takes to maintain clean documentation as you go can save hours in confusion.

Learnit Step Five

Step Five

Wireframe and code

Now, the fun part. Design and code! A wireframe is a document that shows where visual elements will go and code is a language by which you can tell the computer how you want it to function.

For the Learnit project timeline, we went straight to high fidelity wireframes presented through Invision so their team could give feedback on their own time. We worked through two different time zones (UK & LA/West Coast), so the ability to communicate asynchronously on designs this way was crucial.

Regular check-ins and good project management software are critical to rapidly iterating on websites during sprint.

Lastly

QA, QA, and release

With everything ready to go, it’s time to test and test again. And again if you need. Oftentimes we will spend more time in QA than we will in actually creating the website. Seeing your vision come to life can often visualize gaps in thinking from all members of the team.

For the Learnit project, we barely had enough time to test properly enough before their desired deadline of Friday morning so we delayed the re-launch announcement to Sunday.

The process often takes longer than you think, so make sure to pad the time and stay close to the updates to help steer the ship!

Interested in having Happily help you level up? Schedule A Call

July 5, 2020