Those of you unable to come and see us at the JISC11 conference in Liverpool next week will no doubt be keeping one eye on what is happening throughout the day with the help of your laptop, phone or tablet. As an event organiser I love experimenting with new and interesting ways to amplify events as well as enhance the physical delegate experience. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong. But this is all part of the learning curve and helps us make the ‘online’ experience of the conference better each year.
For those just dipping their toe in the event amplification waters it can be daunting. Here at JISC we have been experimenting for a few years with different ways to ‘amplify’ an event using digital technologies. I’ve come up with a top ten list of things to think about when planning the digital amplification of your event.
1. Technology should be a means not an end. Make sure your conference starts with what you want people to get out of it, and with your organisation’s strategy, not with the tools you want to use.
2. Before you do anything check the broadband and wi-fi capabilities at the venue. There is nothing worse, than putting in all that hard work to amplify the conference and the wifi letting you down on the day and none of your delegates being able to get online or worse still your live streaming cuts out.
3. Have a plan. Creating a proper plan for why, to who, what, how and when you are amplifying is essential. Ensuring that everyone involved in implementing the plan has seen it and signed it off is also important.
4. Find your audience, and go to them. If you are targeting students, use Facebook; if it’s staff you want to attract, try setting up a Linked In profile. It’s easier and more effective than trying to attract them to a new online community.
5. Live streaming plenary sessions is an excellent way of allowing online followers to participate in the conference highlights and an easy way to build the online element.
6. Use social media to help start conversations. For example: set up and use a memorable Twitter hashtag early on (e.g. #jisc11). Use Lanyrd to promote the event to Twitter users. Creating a LinkedIn or Facebook group audience can help delegates and online followers alike network, make new connections and start their own conversations.
7. Consider having a dedicated microblogger to tweet live as the event unfolds. This will also ensure that you have succinct notes of the event as a record and the microblogger can act as the physical voice of people following online at the actual event eg. during Q&A sessions.
8. Inform your speakers. Make sure you tell all your speakers/presenters/facilitators about any amplification plans so they are prepared and more crucially get their permission – some of them might have sensitive information in their presentations that they may not want broadcast.
9. Consider accessibility. Deaf and disabled people should not have to fight for their access needs to be met. Check out JISC Techdis’ accessibility guide.
10. Find a home for the conference outputs. After the event, collect the materials and online conversations together for people to access after the event and put them in a logical place on your website – then add to them and ask people to comment on what would be useful next time. Let the life of the conference extend beyond the day itself.
There’s still time to sign up for this year’s conference – booking deadline is Friday 4 March 2011.