We recently had the opportunity to design and deliver a 1-day online summit for a community of high performing, entrepreneurial fathers. The event was 7-hours and brought together 50 participants from all over the country and even several from Norway, Israel and Australia!
As you might imagine, there was some healthy skepticism from both the host and the participants about what level of collaboration, engagement and interaction could be created during this 7-hour online event. Afterall, most online meetings and conferences don’t tend to be highly engaging and from what we’ve seen, often leave participants questioning the value they obtain from attending. I’m sure you can relate, having likely been a participant at an online event or meeting over the past 6-months that left you feeling somewhat disconnected or thinking there must be a better way to create a collaborative and engaging online experience.
Similarly, this group of participants is very discerning with their time and expect a significant ROI on any time, energy or financial investment they make. In addition, most of the community members were relatively new and had never experienced any kind of online event hosted by this community, as this was its first online summit. Other participants had previously attended an in-person retreat hosted by this community and had similar value expectations for this online experience. So, needless to say, the level of expectation for value and an overall excellent experience was set very high!
One of the core beliefs of the XCHANGE approach is to tap into and unlock the collective wisdom of the community. When designing an event, we always consider several factors, including: what percentage of the agenda will be “active” participation versus “passive” delivery of information and what amount of the learning will be delivered by “subject matter experts” or a single perspective, versus crowdsourced from each other and the participants’ own real-life experiences.
There’s no single right answer or secret formula, but we always design with an emphasis on “active learning” and “crowdsourced solutions”, which enables us to deliver higher levels of interaction, collaboration and ultimately deliver on learning outcomes, while creating an overall enjoyable experience.
For this event, about 2.5-hours (or about 35% of the agenda time) consisted of information delivery via “subject matter experts” on several topics. Even this content wasn’t entirely passive, as there was active discussion, reflection and interview-style questions, which created a more engaging and personal feel.
The remaining 4.5-hours (or about 65% of the agenda time) were immersion-style XCHANGE activities, where participants were invited to have meaningful conversations around specific topics in small groups and given the opportunity to connect with and learn from each other.