In this period of Covid-19, we have seen the bubble rise of enterprise video communication platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft teams and many others.
Trying to make the best out of these digital tools, many people are doing their business as usual, and even better. Here is our experience: On April 4, we organized an one day online bootcamp with 100 participants - selected researchers and students from Western Switzerland.
The Innosuisse Bootcamp is part of its start-up training program of Business Concept. It is an one day gathering of multidisciplinary participants coming from different parts of Western Switzerland. It has the goal to inspire participants through experience sharing of a successful entrepreneur, to provide them opportunities to meet, to have them challenge with each other, to build a strong teams around promising project ideas, and to get a first hand experience of customer discovery in team. A normal bootcamp is designed to have a series of fast paced activities with 120-150 participants coming from different part of Switzerland. Moving this kind of event online was challenging, and it needed to be as interactive as possible to keep the attention of the 100 participants.
Study has shown that something special/unusual should happen every 7 minutes in a talk to keep the attention from the participants. It sounds like a very short time frame, but just a little joke from the speaker, a poll, or something unusual from a conventional talk could work. So below are some elements of the program that worked very well and that we could like to share with you:
Mentimeter, speakup.info, polleverywhere... They are all your friends! Easy to use, try to find the best tools for your event. You can see the results live and share it with the audience directly from your slides. Here are a few examples of questions that were asked to the participants at the beginning of the day.
Starting the event with a Pool is fun, is engaging, and it could give you some precious insights of how the day is going for the participants. It's a key element if you are not confident about your activities, you know in real-time what's going on, which allow you to adapt the rest of the day according to these live results.
One useful tool from Zoom is the breakout rooms! Perfect for group work, but you can use it in different ways:
- Speed dating with participants, so they can know each other in small groups of 2-5 during a few minutes, and then reallocate everyone randomly another time. Of course after a few times, they might be in the room with someone they already talked to, so I would recommend you to do it 2-3 times only. 2 people per room could be awkward and could be seen as a forced date, that's why I personally prefer when 3 or 4 person are present in each breakout room. Make sure you don't have someone who is alone in a room!
- Group work on case study: groups of 5-6 persons, you can program the groups if you need to and give them a fixed amount of time. The faster the case study is, the better.
- Tracks of project presentation: During the Innosuisse e-Bootcamp, we split the 100 participants in 4 tracks according to the nature of their start-up projects: ICT, , Engineering, Medtech, biotech & other projects. Such vertical track allows people to challenge each other’s business models, to share knowledge and experiences of the specific sector and to provide the peer groups with additional, relevant market information, tips and tricks. A business expert of the industry is assigned to each track to moderate the discussion. He will help to animate the discussion, to involve participants and to encourage questions and facilitate the answers.
Organizing an online competition is as easily, if not more, as organizing a phase to phase competition. During the online bootcamp, the groups are given the challenges to validate their business ideas though customer discovery interviews. They had to call their relatives, friends, a potential customer for their start-up project or a potential key partner and interview that person to get relevant information / feedback about their projects, and then edit the video and send it back in 2 hours. Interview videos were evaluated by specialists, also online, in terms of the manner (the way to approach people, the attitude, the concluding / follow-up of he conversation) and content (relevance of the questions asked, the quality of the answer, amount of information gathered,..).
The best interview videos were selected and the winning team receive a prize.
To facilitate the rundown of the event, it's important not to negligate the crew!
An online event is almost like TV show: everything must be timed perfectly and you need different people to ensure different tasks: the moderation, the logistics, the camera, the music, etc. Just as a performance, you’d better to do the rehearsal to make the run down as smoothly, and as compact as possible. You will need a time-keeper and video communication tool manager to make sure the tools used are properly set-up and working (ppt, polls, breakout rooms, etc.), a moderator introducing the speakers and activities, providing instructions and make comments, facilitating Q&A, etc. During the event, you can use chat discreetly on WhatsApp or privately on Zoom to coordinate with the operating team.
In this Covid-19 times, everyone is in the same boat, even professional musicians. Why wouldn't you organize a surprise online concert to close the day? It will make the event memorable to your participants and guest speakers. Attention: a short format of concert lasting 15-20mn is better than a longer one. When it comes to online, even with extraordinary musicians playing master pieces, people will be most probably be distracted by other things happening around you at home.
So as everything online: Keep everything compact, dynamic and perfectly well tuned!
Want to know more about the Innosuisse trainings and events? Go check out what we offer!