A New Perspective on Perspectives 2020: Transforming an Event for Changing Times

March 19, 2020 | Activate Learning | 4 min read

These are extraordinary times, but believe it or not, it’s at these very moments that people want to know they can rely on the ordinary. There is tremendous comfort in knowing that things can and will carry on, albeit in a reimagined way.

That's why we decided to hold our annual conference, Perspectives, but do it in a way that works best for the challenges we face in our current reality.

We realized early on that we needed to pivot quickly, and that if we wanted to do something different, we had to make a big change. We didn't want to settle for simply doing a broadcast version of what we had planned to do in person. We wanted to create something new that encourages people to participate live and is irresistible.

We had to stop and really think about what we wanted to achieve. So even though it was tempting to "hit the ground running," it was even more important to build in a moment of pause and set a rock-solid strategy to serve as our north star.

1. We invested upfront time in strategy development so we could confidently sprint to execution.

In partnership with our agency C Space, we held a two-day design thinking workshop where we leveraged insights from bespoke customer communities to determine what would constitute a best-in-class live digital experience in 2020. We also looked at case studies from other live digital events and went outside the traditional B2B environment to focus on experiences from Peloton, Apple, and even television's The Bachelor to inspire us.

As a team, we outlined the amazing aspects of in-person events that we did not want to lose but understood we would need to modify. Things like:

  • Connections: Could we still provide an opportunity for people to connect with us and with each other?
  • Traveling: Could we encourage people to take time away from their everyday work in a virtual environment?
  • Engagement: Could we offer an opportunity for people to experience and learn new things, together?
  • Content: Could we develop programming that you can’t already find online or watch on your own time?

And perhaps most important, how could we get people to tune-in?

2. We thought about the potential that a digital experience could open up for us.

Transforming a remediation into an opportunity, we considered how the new approach could lead to positive new outcomes, including:

  • Offering an experience that is open to all: Pushing us to democratize learning and craft an event that would be free and have greater reach.
  • A truly global event without borders: Reaching all time zones within 24 hours.
  • Evolutionary programming: Taking advantage of the new delivery method to feature up-to-the-minute content that doesn’t need to be locked in nine weeks out.
  • Extensible and shareable content: Building a more elastic program, not limited to one day or place.
  • A new opportunity to generate interest and excitement: Leveraging the value of this global virtual event in innovative ways beyond what we could do with a traditional event.

Ultimately, we wanted to offer people a way to grow together by enjoying a day dedicated to learning.

3. We focused on developing a value proposition for different groups of attendees.

We focused our plan, not just for learning and talent professionals, but also learners, executives and university students. What do each of these different groups get out of a live digital experience? And, how could we deliver something compelling for each of them?

4. We needed to build in reasons to attend live.

Why would someone watch something live instead of on their own time? Each content stream is designed to be one-of-a-kind; must-watch live and interactive – making this an event not just for individual learning and talent professionals, but for learners and whole lines of business to watch and participate in together.

5. We created the plan in real-time.

This meant sketching out a 24-hour agenda and designing the experience together – building on the principles we had developed previously.

Our two-day workshop covered strategy, goals, deadlines and delivery. It helped build a framework and a structure for the complete ground-up rebuild of the event, including social media tactics, broadcast strategies, promotional concepts and post-event feedback and evaluation to hit critical success metrics for our participants and ourselves.

The result is a completely reimagined follow-the-sun digital experience on May 13th, beginning first thing in the morning in Sydney, Australia and ending the day in San Francisco, CA. It will comprise 24 hours of live content, including head-to-head debates on current topics, interactive keynotes from learning pioneers, engaging workshops, and exclusive content for learners that you cannot find anywhere else.

We hope you'll join us for Perspectives 2020, in its dynamic new format.

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek is the Chief Marketing Officer at Skillsoft.