Inside View of the HR Tech Alliances Virtual Collaboration Zone Events with Ward Christman
Welcome to the podcast version of TotalPicture Media. I’m your host, Peter Clayton. Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into virtual events. How to host them. How to participate successfully in them. After all, if you’re interested in hosting an event or attending one these days, the only way to do that is virtually (unless you’re the Florida chapter of SHRM, who recently hosted a live in-person event where many of the speakers appeared via Zoom, apparently, which qualified them for a Darwin Award from our friends Chad and Cheese).
I’m joined today through the magic of Zoom (no surprise), by my good friend and fellow LRP exile — Ward Christman. Ward is the evangelist for all things related to HR Tech Alliances. Not only has he turned his signature Collaboration Zone Events virtual, but he’s also greatly expanded their frequency – hosting a new virtual Collaboration event every month! Yeah, full-day multi track virtual events once a month! So, we’re going to pick Ward’s brain on how the hell he pulls this off. Because I can tell you as someone who’s entire video production has shifted to Zoom for the past eight months, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make this all of this online technology work. One heads-up, this was originally recorded in video and around 13 minutes in Ward does a live demo of his database system – it’s pretty easy to follow along but you may want to check out the YouTube version of the conversation. You can find the link in the video section on TotalPicture.com. Now here’s my conversation with Ward Christman with HR Tech Alliances. Enjoy.
- Ward, it’s great to see you. I think the last time we were together was at UNLEASH in Amsterdam. How have you been?
- As I said in the intro, you’ve been hosting your Virtual Collaboration Zone events on a monthly basis. How long have you been doing this?
- How have you been able to get folks to play along, Ward – sponsors, judges, contestants, collaborators? I’m guessing there was a certain amount of resistance to this idea.
- Your events run a full day – 9AM to 5PM – how are they structured?
- So speaking about Zoom, it looks to me like you’re using the Zoom Meetings platform. Did you look at other vendors like On24? Why did you choose Zoom as your platform?
- I would bet this has been a learning experience for you – it certainly has been for me — let’s face it, everyone’s work lives have been upended due to Covid-19 – what adjustments or changes have you made as you’ve gained more experience hosting these events?
- What pitfalls do people need to be aware of?
- Switching to the attendee side for a minute – I recently published a blog post titled “A Zoom Video Survival Guide,” (I’ll put a link to this and other resources in the show notes). I think most people watching or listening to this are at least familiar with Zoom and other meeting apps like Skype and Go-to-Meeting, however, that does not mean they’re aware of the tech they need to use Video conferencing effectively. One example: basic things like using ethernet for your internet connection instead of WiFi makes a huge difference! As you know, Ward, a lot of newer laptops no longer have ethernet ports which means you have to get and adapter and Cat5 cable – Ward, I’m sure you’ve run into the same thing – so how do you get all of the attendees, contestants, collaborators, judges – all of you event participants up to speed on the tech they’re going to need?
- Back in the good ol’ days, I’ve been fortunate to attend live Collaboration Zone events and take part in a number of Round Table Topic Discussions – they’re always fun, interesting, very interactive with lots of smart people participating. How have you been able to capture this virtually?
- Tell us about the Collaboration Competition. How does that work?
- How many contestants are there?
- How are finalists selected?
- Who are the judges for your September 21st event?
- What’s the criteria for determining the winner?
- We haven’t talked about another aspect of the Collaboration Zone, the vendor 1:1 meetups. How are they set up?
- Do attendees get access to the list of vendors who’ve signed up once they’re registered?
- How much does it cost? Are there different price points depending on a person’s objectives?
- Where can people go to learn more and register?
- What’s the best way for people to connect with you?