Redefining global virtual training with Webex Events
Being part of Cisco’s global systems engineering organization, one of my favorite events is our systems engineering virtual team training. It is a time for pre-sales engineers to come together, exchange stories, share successes and challenges, experience new technology innovation, and build new technical skills.
The pandemic has transformed this yearly event into a fully global and virtual experience. In addition to not being able to connect with our colleagues physically, the psychological impact of the change is even more important to consider. As a community, we miss the opportunity to find commonalities in our challenges, get validation through sharing ideas, and learn reinforcement through open dialogue and debates.
With Webex, Cisco is redefining how global training is taking place by creating an inclusive environment for learning and focusing on the psychological aspects of connecting with others.
Having just completed a global training event for over 1,600 engineers, I thought I would share how we did it and how the results completely exceeded our expectations.
Webex Events Platform
For the delivery platform, we used Webinar mode in Webex Events. Webex Webinar has a global reach, is scalable to 10k attendees, supports a panelist capability, and provides the inclusive features available today on the Webex app (gesture recognition, chat, Webex Assistant, emoji reactions, language translation, and translation transcription, etc.). For details on Webex Webinar, go here.
We also leveraged our high-performance Cisco collaboration devices such as the Webex Deskpro and Room series devices, seamlessly integrated into the Webex Webinar platform delivering 1080p quality video.
Before the big event
We all know the first 5 minutes of your event are critical to capture the audience. Here are two ideas to ensure you show up well informed and the speakers are ready.
Pre-check the pulse of your attendees: Before the event took place, we opened Q&A a week early via Webex Slido. We captured what was top of mind and prepared to address the audience’s top questions when the event started.
A space to prepare content: We pre-built spaces for each session using the Webex app to allow speakers to organize content and brainstorm on presentation flows using embedded whiteboarding applications. During the event, we discussed answers to tough questions before we responded in real-time.
Game Time:Practice makes perfect: We leveraged Webex Webinar practice sessions to ensure all speakers were ready and in sync. When it was time to start, we simply ended the practice session & were immediately transitioned into the main event!
Making Q&A Viral
Besides the content of the event, how you execute Q&A will dictate your audience engagement level. Here is how we set up our Q&A to ensure maximum audience engagement.
Multiple rooms – Webex Slido allows you to pre-build your event and rooms for all the sessions taking place at your event. We ran one main event but created a separate room for each session for Q&A, polling, knowledge checks, and surveys. This allowed for a more focused experience and kept the engagement organized.
Up/Downvoting – Webex Slido allows the audience to up (on by default) or down vote a question. This allowed for rapid crowdsourcing of the most popular questions, which shows up at the top of the Q&A panel to ensure speakers addressed questions in priority order.
From Q&A to viral discussion – We enabled replies to questions so the audience could share their perspectives on a question or an answer. You could consider this an open virtual dialogue in real-time during a session (e.g., the open microphone in the middle of the room). The result gave us a few creative dialogues that we openly talked about live as the conversation developed.
Knowledge checks – Periodically, throughout the sessions, we did knowledge checks to reinforce a topic and to ensure we had the audience’s attention. You can even do quizzes and a leaderboard to make it more competitive.
Session Surveys & dynamic feedback – We didn’t wait until the end to open the surveys as we knew people sometimes leave early. Webex Slido also allowed us to allow for “open text” comments, which provided great feedback.
Leveraging Webex Webinar + Slido has changed the game for our global virtual training. The results clearly showed an increase in audience engagement and knowledge attainment.
70%+ active audience engagement with nearly 18,000 audience interactions over a 4-day event. Even for physical events, there is no real way to measure engagement. I would assert that Webex Slido is the leading audience engagement measurement solution for all event types, physical, virtual, or hybrid.
624 questions and over 900 likes/dislikes
Post-session survey response rate: +20% (compared to ~4% in the past before Webex Slido). We were blown away with the survey response results and the increase in positive and constructive comments to help improve our event.
Moving forward, we plan to incorporate Webex Webinar breakout rooms, which will allow for more dynamic small group collaboration.
Whiteboarding apps in breakout rooms will allow for creating thinking and dynamic problem-solving in smaller group settings.
Pre-breakout room surveys/polls from Webex+Slido will allow specific knowledge checks and potential learning contests and testing.
Attendees could move freely between breakout rooms as they listened in as they would bouncing between in-person sessions at events.
The training industry has forever changed post-pandemic. If you haven’t used Webex to deliver your training needs for your business, give Webex Events a try here.
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