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The show must go on

technology

By Ian Lavis on behalf of Praxity Global Alliance

How do you stage a successful conference at the height of a global pandemic when many delegates can’t even travel, let alone shake hands and network?

This was the challenge facing Praxity event organisers in the run up to the conference season in 2020.

After months and years of planning physical events at world leading destinations, the Praxity team was forced to move its Global Conference, North American International Tax Conference and Latin American Conference online for the safety of delegates.

However, rather than simply switching content online, organisers teamed up with world-leading tech specialists from Flipside and Conferences i/o to provide a fully immersive experience featuring:

  • A new virtual conference platform called Conference+
  • Interactive elements including CPE monitoring, polling and Q&A
  • Content accessible in any time zone

The platform allows delegates to actively participate in conference sessions and share expertise.

It was first rolled-out at Praxity’s virtual Global Conference in October. Following the event, accounting professionals praised efforts to make the conference as engaging as possible despite the restrictions of the pandemic. Delegates said

“…given the current circumstances the format and the content of this year’s conference was great.”

“The Praxity team should really be proud of how this went.”

“It was the most appropriate answer to the unusual circumstances caused by Covid 19 and shows nothing can stop Praxity.”

Televisuals with pizzazz

Explaining the technology behind Praxity’s virtual conferences, Rob Oubridge, Director of digital agency Flipside, says: “For a good conference, you need to do the important bits in an engaging way. High production values are key. A good conference player ought to allow you to put pizzazz into it, with the ability to combine and mix different media on screen – the speaker, slides, video, audio and support materials, just as you would expect with a television production but with added ability to interact through voting, chat and Q&A facilities.”

Kate Fisher, Account Manager at Conferences i/o, says: “The hardest part is keeping attendees engaged.” Explaining how this can be done using polling and Q&A software, she adds: “During the session, attendees can be polled and as they add information, the charts change on screen.”

Strong engagement

Delegates will already be familiar with some of the engagement technology used for Praxity events. The Alliance has been working with Conferences i/o for two years to provide user-friendly software for attendance, CPE registration and polling.

This technology has been integrated into Flipside’s virtual conference platform to enable delegates to participate online in different ways.

Commenting on the fusing together of different technologies, Rob says: “We have a proven virtual conference system which compliments the existing software used by Praxity so we can integrate it very quickly and manage it seamlessly.”

Easy to use software

The main focus is on making the system easy to use. Speakers and delegates should not have to grapple with software. It should look and feel like television but allow delegates to interact.

Kate explains: “There is really nothing for the delegates to manage. It is already embedded and everything is put up at a session level. When attendees go to a session or a meeting, they are able to navigate to it easily. We are doing all the heavy lifting for them.”

She adds: “Part of the reason we have continued to work with Praxity is we are very hands-on with our clients. Ease of use is our goal and we are in constant contact for ease of use for the employees of Praxity participant firms.”

New ways to connect

Clearly, one of the big differences in the virtual world is the way delegates interact. No amount of technology can replace all the benefits of traditional networking.

However, Rob stresses that the ability to make connections is not lost when conferences move online. He says: “What people actually like at conferences is the connection, the feeling of belonging. People are developing different behaviours at virtual conferences – they are finding different ways to connect.”