the story of event camp middle east: a global hybrid event

Whenever event technology is being discussed, Hybrid Events are increasingly on the agenda. More often than not the discussion tends to revolve around attracting and keeping a remote audience, whether it should be free or paid for and ways to fund the activity in the first place. It is not often that the conversation moves onto the subject of remote presenters.

The concept of being more sustainable as well as reducing travel budgets by allowing delegates to attend a conference virtually is now a generally accepted one. But organisers have the opportunity to go one step further and engage remote speakers to contribute to their event.

This can significantly help an organiser’s bottom line as well as allow access to key speakers who may otherwise be unavailable. It may be possible, for example, for a world expert in the subject of the conference to give an hour of their time to present from their home or workplace, whereas the demands and costs of flying across continents to speak in person may preclude their availability and/or affordability. Done correctly, this approach allows great scope for all delegates – in the room or in the cloud – to learn, engage and interact with the speaker wherever they are located.

It was to explore exactly this approach that, together with Paul Cook of and supported by friends at ShowGizmo, we undertook Event Camp Middle East 2014. This particular Event Camp adopted a theme of sustainability; all speakers with the exception of one (who happened to be in the location anyway) and event host Paul Cook, presented from their home countries and were beamed into the room and out again to a dedicated event microsite.

The online event was created using YouTube Live Streaming and the remote speakers made their contribution via Skype. Promoted through Twitter and Facebook, Event Camp Middle East 2014 was a global hybrid conference, where the speakers were located in 7 different countries and attracted online delegates in 12 countries around the globe, as well as the audience ‘in the room’ at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi.

The ‘virtual presenters’ were located in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the USA and Canada. Delegates, both in the room and online, were able to interact with comments and questions through an interactive panel on the web page alongside the video player. Event host Paul Cook  from Planet as well as linking and introducing speakers also conducted interviews with many. The recordings were available through YouTube immediately afterwards and the event microsite was updated with the on demand recordings the next day. (One of the lesser known advantages of YouTube Live Streaming is that it has a DVR function. This is like a Sky+ or Tivo facility, where if a viewer joins a live webcast late they are able to watch it live or rewind back to earlier in the presentation.)

The stated aim of the Event Camp community is “to bring together like-minded professionals, to share best practices, and learn new strategies, for leveraging social media and technology to create enhanced event experiences.” Event Camps are intended to push the boundaries of trying and testing new ideas, so using speakers contributing remotely fitted well with this ethos.

The sessions are available on demand and continue to be widely viewed and commented upon.

Guest Blogger, Martin Shepherdly owns BeThere Global Limited with his business partner and Mark Buckland, to bring high quality, fast, affordable and flexible video recording and web broadcasting to the conference and congress market. Martin has three decades of experience in conference, event and video production.

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