Like the majority of events planned in 2020, the Salon MPA had to face the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and drastically change the format of its annual event.
The Salon MPA is a well-known event in the industry, especially for its high quality content and impeccable organization. It was crucial for the Mouvement québécois de la qualité (MQQ) to provide this same level of service regardless of the format of the event.
It goes without saying that a virtual event requires a different organizational approach, and introduces significant new variables and technical risks. Despite the novelty of the format, it was essential that participants’ expectations were met. JPdL was therefore mandated by the Mouvement to support them in taming these new challenges.
The Salon MPA offered in 2020 45-minute workshops led by experts on various subjects such as design thinking, and mentoring. These training sessions were intended to be short, concrete and interactive. As the time factor is critical here, it was important to prevent small technical problems, such as the non-functioning of a participant’s microphone, from slowing the progress of the training.
To ensure that technological factors did not compromise the content and experience of the participants, the experts needed to be able to focus only on their content. To do this, a team with technical skills qualified to interact in a virtual congress context was set up to assist the speakers. Each expert was assigned an assistant whose sole deliverable was to manage the technical problems of the participants, thereby ensuring the smooth running of the workshop.
All the experts and assistants had been previously paired and had attended training on content and technology. In order to properly equip resources, staff training for all eventualities should not be overlooked.
There are always elements beyond our control in the organization of an event and especially in the realization of a virtual event. To mitigate these risks, we put in place plans A, B and C to ensure that no power outage or emergency would disrupt the smooth running of the program. How? ‘Or’ What? By designating replacements ready to take over if one of our assistants had any issues!
With 2,235 registrants, 102 workshops and a participation rate of over 93%, the virtual edition of the Salon MPA was a great success. The qualified assistants were able to respond effectively to the technical requests of the participants and guide them during the various activities, without the experts having to worry.
Various means of cascading communication were provided for notifying technical problems or requesting replacements. The replacements remained on the lookout and ready to intervene in the event of technical problems. Case in point: one of the assistants had a power failure just before a workshop and his replacement was able to immediately take over. The workshops stayed focused on their short, concrete and interactive format , thus enhancing the experience of the participants.
This case study shows how essential it is to surround yourself with qualified personnel for this type of event and underlines the importance of preparing different scenarios to effectively manage risks. Improvisation has no place in virtual conventions.