EAGxVirtual 2020

Held across the weekend of the 13th-14th June 2020, EAGx was the first time The Centre for Effective Altruism had taken a conference completely virtual. 

Starting at 09:00 am (GMT) on Saturday 13th June and running straight through to 04:00 am on Monday 15th. The event was held to bring the global EA community together for a weekend of talks, Q&A’s and panel discussions. The various sessions consisted of live and pre-recorded content covering topics such as, animal advocacy, AI and climate change (to name a few). A fascinating weekend. 

To facilitate the networking and conference part, the event was run on Grip, a virtual event platform. Grip started as a professional networking app for events, however, it’s quickly evolved to facilitate online events. We’ve worked with a no. of different platforms and Grip has 2 key features; 1) the platform can be customised, and 2) it’s great for 1-2-1 matching & networking via its AI-powered match function. 

To manage the live and pre-recorded content EA reached out to the London Filmed virtual team. Considering the size and complexity of the virtual event, we’d typically ask for 6-8 weeks in order to tailor the schedule, create digital assets, collate all of the pre-recorded content, prep all the live speakers and build the overall project. However, taking a call on Friday 5th June, we only had 5 working days! We love a challenge and we had previously worked with the EA team before, so solid foundations to work with. 

The weekend consisted of 25 live and pre-recorded sessions. Typically we’d prep each speaker individually, running through technical checks and best practices. However, on this occasion, we ran 4 group briefings, to prepare all speakers ahead of the weekend’s event, across 4 time zones. It’s critical when running a virtual event you prep every speaker thoroughly! 

The biggest challenge with so little time to prepare, was the project build and putting together a team able to deliver across multiple time zones. We quickly assessed the schedule and divided this up into shifts with a production team of 5. Each team consisted of a virtual event producer and a virtual floor manager. The producer was responsible for the live streaming of pre-recorded content, MC’s, Speakers and Q&A sessions. The virtual floor manager welcomed guests, conducted pre-broadcast checks and liaised with the client’s event management team. Project management throughout the process is essential, that’s why we always assign a dedicated PM.

To ensure delivery of the project throughout the weekend was a success, we opted for 2 communication channels. Slack was used to communicate with the EA team throughout, keeping them up-to-date with speakers checking in etc. Discord was used internally to chat between event producers and floor managers. Every company will have its own way of communicating, whatever that is, it’s essential it doesn’t compromise the live stream.

Outcome

A well-executed event that ran smoothly over the course of the weekend, keeping attendees up-to-date & informed on a number of key topics. While COVID prevented the client from holding the physical event, they pivoted to run a fantastic virtual event which was very well received and positively rated in the post-event poll. 

The timeline to prepare for this was by far the greatest challenge, but we accepted it with open arms. We quickly reassured the client that they no longer needed to worry about the live part of the event, which meant they could focus their energy, on enhancing the audience’s experience. 

The 1,300 strong audience is to date the largest gathering for EA global! Such was the success of the event, the client is looking to carry out a further 2-3 events this year, and build virtual events into the plan moving forward. This is a fantastic example of how virtual events can outperform live events, as people from all over the world can be part of the same conversation, strengthening the community and all with no travel!