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October 7, 2020

In Review: Tevent Presents #1

We run through some of the key takeaways from our first Tevent Presents. 1) Connecting remotely has made it okay to be human. 2) Accessibility as more than just the new black. 3) And a discussion on the challenges facing a virtual events future.

We've been very busy recently here at Tevent. With lots of things, as we always are, but we're particularly proud of, and excited about, our Tevent Presents series that we kicked off last week. It was really great to be there, mingle with our speakers, and see some our newest users on the platform with us in realtime 🎉

We know that you can't be everywhere at once though, so, for those of you that didn't make it (and even for those of you that did) we're gracing you with a whistle-stop tour of everything we got up to, furnished with some extra commentary for good measure. Just to make sure that you haven't missed out on any of the fun, and- of course - to show you we care.

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Cultivating online communities

The good bits!

Connecting remotely has made it okay to be human. Some of our most interesting discussion was about how, a little paradoxically, it has been at our most socially distant that connections have felt the most humanised and forgiving.
We've seen into each others homes, and swapped the shirts for t-shirts; for lots of us, there's a silver lining in being 'in it' together.

Accessibility as more than just the new black. Accessibility as a term is, quite rightly, being given more of the limelight it deserves as we start to see how traditional barriers to access are being mitigated by gathering online. For starters, speakers and attendees alike were hailing from all over the world, tuning in at different times, and coming from all different walks of life.
We touched on this in our last piece but, though the pandemic has made 'telecommuting' a reality for everyone, its also important to be mindful of how this has been a bittersweet reality for activists who have long been pushing for greater flexibility and inclusion. As Charles Catherine, the associate director at the National Organization on Disability, a nonprofit that advocates for employment of people with disabilities, tells us “it’s nice to realize that it’s working fine and should have been implemented decades ago”. Indeed, as the physical world starts to open up, we would do well to bear the real harnessing power of virtual in mind.

The challenges

Adaptation. Teething problems can be tricky, even when we know they're only temporary. Quick shifts always come with problems, and with some inevitable trial and error - but, the good news is that, as is so often the case, good things come to those who wait. The reality is unless we embrace the need to adapt, and get excited about the potential rewards, we'll just be stuck with what we have now.

Boredom. Have you noticed how Zoom quizzes and online birthday drinks have become so lockdown one? It's not the case that we've all suddenly stopped drinking, enjoying quizzes, or having birthdays - but rather that what we have had at our disposal has left a sour taste.
Even just a quick glance at Google trends data for the terms 'quiz questions' (red line) and 'quiz questions and answers' (blue line) show us that after initial peak interest, they only picked up slightly around Christmas time last year. Of course, this is not an absolute science and lots of people will stop searching for a particular terms for reasons other than their general interest level, but when taken together with anecdotal evidence the impetus behind this trend is clear. Quizzes are timeless forms of fun; clunky solutions less so.

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This means that even when better solutions come along - wink wink nudge nudge - it's difficult to get people willing to give things another shot, en masse at least. It comes as no surprise, but, unfortunately, it's quite difficult to come back from a bad first impression.

The future?

A hybrid way forward? The most popular vision for the future is definitely the one that takes the best of the way we used to do things, and fuses that with the gains we've been able to make now. Working, learning and sharing from home are all becoming more feasible long-term, and, crucially, have shifted our perception of what a balanced schedule looks like.
Interestingly, in the UK, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which represents human resources professionals, has called for a change in law, so that flexible working requests are a day-one right for all employees.

Innovation - Ultimately, all of this depends on the degree to which remote engagements are properly facilitated - as well as the degree to which we, as attendees, organisers, speakers, presenters and so on, get creative with our tools - and, with dipping our toes in the water to give new things the time of the day they deserve.
Clinging onto uninspiring session formats, for example, probably won't help us scope out a new, fun, and accessible, status-quo. Here's some food for thought: how many webinars have you been to, and, out of those, how many of them were really memorable occasions?

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