SAN JOSE, CALIF.—There’s no denying that everyone in the business is familiar with Zoom (and yes, we box see your screen) and all the communication power it holds to keep teams connected. So how does the tech giant keep its own team connected?
One way is through Zoomtopia, the company’s annual user conference, which this year took place at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center on November 8-9. More than 1,200 customers, partners and executives were on hand at the event in California, while thousands more joined the livestream via, of course, the Zoom Events platform.
And while Zoomtopia has always had some sort of hybrid element (the event is no stranger to speakers attending Zoom), 2022 marked the first year that the two-day assignments really went “full on that digital-first approach,” said Sam. Kokajko, head of event specialists at Zoom, who has been involved in Zoomtopia’s hybrid production since its inception six years ago.
That meant “making sure every session had hybrid elements, making sure we were really using the biggest and the best, showing the world how we do hybrid and how we think about it on a large scale,” Kokajko explained. .
Photo: Courtesy of Zoom
The theme for this year’s Zoomtopia was “Explore New Dimensions,” with the aim of helping spark new ideas about what business communications can be. Attendees had the chance to hear musical performances from artists like Nelly, Yola and Lawrence; as well as hearing from speakers like Enrique Lores, President and CEO of HP Inc., and producer and singer Timbaland, who gave a keynote speech about his music career and overcoming rejection.
Virtual attendees could also benefit from remote scheduling – and Kokajko said Zoomtopia takes “an ongoing approach to ensure that [both] audiences are always aware of each other, and they are always part of the conversation with each other.”
One place to see this dual engagement in action was the main stage, where live reactions from the virtual audience rode on the LED wall behind the speakers. “I remember at one point in the chat someone posted ‘Hey, everyone’s making amazing faces’, and just a wave of them popped up on the screen while everyone world had a little moment of unity and bonding,” Kokajko fondly recalls. .
Photo: Courtesy of Zoom
Zoomtopia’s eight content rooms (aka breakout sessions) also had in-depth Zoom tech stacks and setups. Each theater had multiple cameras capturing wide shots of the hall and closer shots of the audience, as well as ambient microphones that picked up sounds from the audience in the hall and brought them to the virtual audience. Where possible, theaters also had live audience views of virtual attendees, a feature that was also used on the main stage.
The goal was “at all times to remind both audiences of each other and ensure they were in touch with each other,” Kokajko said.
And when Zoom management unveiled exciting new developments from the company, such as Zoom Calendar, Zoom Mail and Zoom Spots, Kokajko said seeing the reactions of the virtual audience in real time helped reinforce that engagement, it is their social posts displayed on the LED screen. or their passing “shocked face” and “heart” reactions.Photo: Courtesy of Zoom
“We keep finding new ways to build engagement because engagement is key,” Kokajko said. “Interactivity is key. Anyone can make a show and send it, but can your audience really interact with it?”
And his advice to planners currently tackling hybrid production?
“It can be a bit overwhelming,” he prefaced. “There’s a lot to think about when you think about these two audiences and the different experiences they require. Just [know] that there are resources – Zoom provides many resources, both with the tools you will use and training on those tools.” He also cited Zoom’s public webinars, as well as its professional services.
“You can have the same team that worked on Zootopia, working directly on your next event,” he said, adding, “We’re really here to encourage the success of those who use our platform and to make sure that every event is the best. it can be.”
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