By: Pat Purcell, President, The Inception Company
Originally published by PM360
Sustainability and carbon footprint reduction have become a necessity when it comes to meeting planning at any scale. The SEC’s March 2022 proposal1 to report and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions urges us to rethink how we host large-scale meetings and conferences—a large contributor to GHG emissions due to air travel.
We worked with risk management organization PROtect, LLC to help us understand that large organizations must report GHG emissions in their entire value chain under the GHG Scope 3 reporting requirements.2 According to Nature Communications, “transitioning from in-person to virtual conferencing can substantially reduce the carbon footprint by 94% and energy use by 90%.”3
With these statistics in mind, now is a suitable time to start planning for more hybrid or fully virtual events. Consider these five key strategies to develop virtual or hybrid meetings that are both sustainable and keep your audience engaged.
1. Enhance Audience Engagement
Audience engagement is always the goal as it enhances learning and information retention. For adult learners, strategies such as problem-based learning (PBL)4 work well to keep your audience engaged by introducing a real-life scenario and open-ended questions with no right or wrong answer.
2. Choose the Right Format (Virtual vs. Hybrid)
Your meeting format should be guided by your audience’s objectives and your speakers’ availability. Working with a team of experts can exponentially increase audience engagement in your meetings.5 Make sure to select service providers who specialize in meeting production while also acting as strategic consultants for overall content management.
3. Build and Refine Content Based on Meeting Format
Hour-long didactic presentations differ from 20-minute virtual engagements, and they often need to be divided into smaller content series. That is where storyboarding comes in.6 Storyboards should be part of a larger program flow, with regular interactive breaks, using proven engagement tools, that invite audience participation. Together, the program flow and the storyboards form a natural biorhythm that organically takes the content forward.
4. Conduct Speaker Training
Speaker training is equally important in a virtual environment. As an example, a simple, yet often difficult, strategy to keep audiences engaged is to maintain eye contact, but with the cameras. In a virtual setting, a “direct gaze at the camera by the meeting leader for 30% of the video conference significantly increases what they remember.” 7
5. Capture Actionable Insights
It is especially useful to capture engagement metrics in the post-production process. Were participants multitasking during the meeting? How many tabs did they have open? Did they feel comfortable interjecting in the sessions? Did they participate in polls, Q&A, various interactive engagement tactics? Work with your service providers to pre-determine the metrics you find most valuable, both qualitative and quantitative, to improve your future virtual meetings.
With these strategies in the book, you should be well equipped to transition your speaker engagements and conferences into a carbon-conscious agenda. As GHG reporting requirements continue to evolve at the Scope 3 level, it is always better to stay ahead of the curve in terms of environmental compliance.
About The Inception Company
The Inception Company (https://inceptioncompany.com/) is a leading technology-driven production company that builds and supports hybrid and virtual engagements since 2005. The Inception Company’s key offering Pando™ Meetings is the only hybrid and virtual platform with a fully integrated production studio. Its built-in 40 ft interactive video wall simulates the experience of a live meeting in a virtual setting so clients can focus on storytelling and engaging their audience from anywhere. The Company, headquartered in Fairfield, NJ delivers scalable meeting platforms, broadcast, video production, and meeting services solutions customized to all client needs.