Original article was published by Nishikant Dhanuka on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
1. Pick your Tech Stack wisely – especially for a virtual event
How to decide what tech stack we would use to host the virtual event? We needed a robust tool with functionalities for video streaming, breakouts, networking, chatting, polling, talent directory, event and knowledge management, etc. We tried out some new all-in-one virtual event platforms that sprung up with the onset of COVID-19. Though they were promising and had some advanced features to simulate the experiences of a physical event, in our tests, failed on fundamental things like video quality (especially for more than 50 people). Because of not knowing an established leader in that space and shortage of time to experiment with many such platforms, we decided to skip it in favour of tools that we are already familiar with.
Plenary: Live Streaming via Studio
We wanted to do something better and different than just hosting another meeting over video conference. So we created a real studio at Prosus HQ, from where the event was moderated and live streamed. This contributed positively to the experience of the participants as they were lead through the program by a dedicated event host and received high quality content. Of course, the studio was run only with a small team, and we took social distancing, masks and other safety precautions very seriously.
Interactivity: Zoom and Slack
Besides plenary sessions, we organized many interactive sessions as part of the marketplace. And plenary sessions (e.g. Keynotes) were followed by a Q&A from the audience at the end. For these sessions we decided to stick to our tried and tested solutions: Zoom for breakouts and Slack for interactive Q&A. The flow between and within the tools was orchestrated by a dedicated technical team, that managed all transitions from live streaming to breakout sessions and interactions.
Event Portal: A custom Event Website as one-stop solution
In our effort to make it simpler for participants to find all the information and links for various sessions, we built a website for the event to have one place to access all information related to the event. Everything could be accessed from this dedicated site, from streaming, to zoom sessions, to slack channels to polls. To enable real-time interaction with participants while they are watching a live session, we embedded slido polls on the same screen. This feature was useful for participants, as they did not need to switch tabs or do any sort of multi-tasking on a second screen or phone.