ECTC11: Experiences of a Remote Attendee
Posted by: Derrick Stomp
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Last week I attended EventCamp Twin Cities (ECTC11) as a virtual attendee. I was both curious and excited about the experience. Several days before the event I signed up and awaited, not knowing what to expect. Let me share with you my experiences, insights and thoughts.
For those who are not familiar with ECTC, please check the ECTC website.
• Information Provisioning
• Technical Aspects
• Engagement and Interaction
• Overall Event experience
The information was well organized and accessible through both the regular website as well as the community. Registration process was quick and easy, and best of all: Free!
One challenge I encountered was the difference in timezones. The program is scheduled for Central Time zone and I was in CET. I used this time and date tool to create a converted time table, and was synced with the schedule again.
When I contacted Emilie Barta via twitter, she confirmed that this issue was on their radar for the next EventCamp.
Other than a properly functioning internet connection, you don’t need anything else in order to attend a hybrid event. Well, I did benefit from the fact that I a have a second screen attached to my laptop, so I can leave the live stream open and have easy access to other resources as well (by the way, a second screen is awesome to increase productivity, but that’s another story……).
For live communication with my teammates at the venue I used Skype, but that didn’t seem to work out very well because of all the surrounding noise in the conference room…
Engagement and Interaction
There was a lot going on at ECTC: live stream (should be two, but due to technical difficulties I had only one available), different PODs, a team, the game, social media, the community ……. actually too much… Emilie did an excellent job as a moderator, which put me back on track several times, but especially for a first-timer the variety of tracks and activities was rather confusing, and I didn’t know my way around well enough to handle all of this.
Different sessions had different levels of interaction. I really liked the approach of Ruud Janssen in which he set up a crowdsourced experiment for ’Building Your Dream App’. For a remote attendee (apart that I’m biased towards the subject) this is a very valuable approach. It invites you to really join the conversation, and in itself it has the potential to stretch the event PRE as well as POST.
The game definitely created a kind of interaction and was fun to do, but again, it interfered with the rest of the program, so in my experience there was not enough focus to fully get engaged. I noticed that the physically present attendees also had difficulties to divide their attention between the game and the actual session that was going on at that moment. For me as remote attendee I guess it was much more easy to focus on the game than it was for the other.
Overall Event Experience
ECTC11 was a fun, overwhelming and eye-opening experience. Of course it was not perfect, there where a few flaws and hickups, but it was inspiring, I learned a lot and it left me with enough food for thought. As a remote attendee I noticed a sense of wanting to share directly my experiences in person, next to sharing them via social media. This makes me curious at the ‘POD experience’.
Because I didn’t knew what to expect I didn’t fully block my agenda, so due to the timezone difference, the event interfered with my family life several times.
We’re in a unique timeframe where technology is changing the event sector lightning fast. By breaking the rules and changing paradigms new possibilities will arise. ECTC11 definitely understands that and explored (and encountered) new frontiers.
Takeaways & Suggestions
- take your time to prepare for the event. Study the schedule, block your agenda and plan your ‘want to go’ activities. Things are going too fast to catch up once the event has started;
- use multiple devices, ideally you use your computer with a second screen to display the stream and access other resources. Use a tablet or smartphone for your social media interaction;
- join a POD to enhance the event experience.
- try to keep the event as simple as possible for the remote attendee
- add a dedicated remote twitter hashtag to empower ‘remote mingling’
- what do remote attendees do during the coffee break?
- why not team up before the event and start the game pre event so you enhance networking and facilitate event stretching?
- what would happen if you assigned a virtual team member as the team captain?
I’m looking forward to attending ECEU on Friday, 9 September, and hope you will join me physically or virtually.