📣 Virtual Events Scale Better
The surprising benefits of moving offline events online at Axel Springer
The team “Knowledge Networks” at Axel Springer organizes internal events to help us share our knowledge with each other. Many of their events bring together the Global Axel Springer Developer Community. (see upcoming events at the bottom)
Like for so many of us, the reality of COVID-19 washed over Daniela and Madeline (called “Madi” by everyone) like a tsunami wave — looking harmless from afar but changing everything once it made landfall.
Their work of organizing internal (tech) events and conferences at Axel Springer, like many things, changed over night. But it actually changed for the better.
Tuesday, February 18th, 08:49 am: I’m standing in front of an empty room. Behind me a projector is showing the slides that I’m about to present to a room full of CTOs. I’m here to present the idea of a TechChat — a system to let all developers at Axel Springer easily communicate with each other, globally. What’s special about this presentation is not that I suited up — it’s that the 50 CTOs I’m about to talk to, come from 13 countries, but all work for the same group.
And that’s exactly the beauty of what Daniela & Madi of the “Knowledge Network” team do: They bring the community of “experts” (as they call them) together — people from all over the Axel Springer Group who share common interests or job descriptions — to help them learn from each other.
In 2019 alone, their events had a lot to offer for the Global Axel Springer Developer Community: A Developer Day, a Data & AI Tech Day, a DevOps Day, and even an internal Tech conference with over 500 people attending in Berlin.
0 to fully virtual overnight
Having seen Daniela in action over the years, it’s no surprise to hear that before the pandemic, she had virtually no video-calls. She clearly thrives on the human connection and chance encounters — “inspiration doesn’t come to you in your living room” as she puts it.
And yet, in 2020 they obviously didn’t have much of a choice. All of their events went virtual, literally over night, but surprisingly that provided a huge boost to attendance.
“Our biggest fear was that no-one would attend”, Madi explains. Their biggest concern never materialized — attendance actually doubled for all of the virtual events, compared to last year.
Virtual Space — Safe Space
What surprised them the most however, was how much calmer the presenters were and how the Q&A sessions seemed to be so much more lively during the now virtual events. Ironically, even though attendance doubled, it seemed like presenters and viewers asking questions seemed much more at ease, because the crowds were simply not as visible.
Before the pandemic, speakers would usually have to mitigate their constant fight-or-flight response to dozens of people focussing their (full) attention on them. Now they were sitting in the comfort of their home, just talking to a screen.
The Q&A sessions after each talk highlighted another benefit of the virtual events: Instead of asking questions through a microphone, attendees now could just post them in the meeting-chat, while listening to the talk. Before the events went virtual, you could sometimes hear a pin drop once the mic was open for questions. Now it seemed like any hesitation to ask questions was completely gone.
Again: Subtle difference, huge effect. Nobody had to remember their questions until the end, and they could be refined before posting them to the chat.
Polling past attendants, Daniela & Madi discovered that 96% of the virtual attendants would actually love to get together for virtual events every 3–6 months. So that’s exactly what they’re doing.
September has a ton of events for the Global Axel Springer Developer Community:
- Data & AI TechDay (03. September)
- Cookie Day (09. September)
- Developer Day (10. September)
- Product Camp (16. September)
- SEO Roundtable (17. September)
- DevOps Day (24. September)
All events start at 14:00 Berlin time, and will be held in English.
14:00 Berlin / 1pm London / 8am New York City / 15:00 Tel Aviv
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And if you would like to present at any of the events, please get in touch with us! (email@example.com).
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Hi, I’m Jonas and I’m currently building up a Global Axel Springer Developer Community. Subscribe to our Weekly Tech Newsletter to get a fresh story like this every Monday and to receive details on how you can join our global developer community ✌🏻
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