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Virtual North of England Education Conference

Tailoring a traditional event experience to encompass a nation-wide audience

Ever since 1903 NEEC, the North of England Education Conference has been a traditional face-to-face conference attended by hundreds of people annually. In 2015 all that changed, when in order to reach an even larger audience, it went virtual, with the entire audience watching and participating via an interactive website.

This was a truly sustainable solution, proposed by digital events specialist The Live Group. Delegates registered on a branded website and thereafter, content was provided in bite-size portions and refreshed weekly. The talks, discussions and filmed keynote speeches were available on demand to fit in with the busy schedules of its audience. It all made for a highly participatory event experience, with a forum in which everyone got the chance to contribute.

With speakers based all over the north of England most of the filming of presentations took place over internet-link, eliminating all travel costs.  Presentations were given from a ‘virtual’ lectern in the comfort of speakers’ own home or workplace and all footage was edited to produce consistent and high quality materials in line with the clearly defined event brand.

Delegates sent in questions via the event webcast –  for addressing either during the interactive webcast or in an online discussion forum. For the webcast, three discussion panels were held in Manchester at the Town Hall, with all material edited and available to view on-demand the next day.

All of these elements made for a highly participatory event experience, with discussions happening throughout the lead up to and during the webcast, and even continuing to this day.

The client had aimed for an audience of 300 delegates. This final total was far larger, and the number of video views were over twice this figure within just four weeks of the webcast.

VNEEC has had such obvious benefits for our audience: busy professionals who often find it hard to get the time to travel for miles to attend a live event. Joining the webcast was free of charge. Each individual was able to watch the presentations at their convenience as professionally edited versions.

This paradigm shift in the style of such a longstanding educational event reflects the changes in the way content is now communicated and the choice audiences require for when, where and how they access information and how they join debates on issues of importance to them. The Live Group has created a permanent and entirely flexible content hub, rather than just a one-day experience. And at a fraction of the cost of a traditional event.

John Edwards, Director of Education at Manchester City Council