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Moving to a Hybrid Format
How the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM) executed their first hybrid conference with the help of Ex Ordo
ASEM is a global society dedicated to growing and sharing the body of knowledge pertaining to engineering management, so that professionals in the field can create and lead great technical organisations. ASEM’s IAC is the society’s flagship event. Ex Ordo has been supporting ASEM with their events since 2019.
In 2020 and 2021, ASEM were forced to move their physical conference online. While it definitely helped their community stay connected, it became increasingly apparent that most members missed the magic of being able to connect face to face.
Having seen the benefits of being able to reach a much more diverse audience through the use of virtual conferencing software during the pandemic, ASEM decided it was time to try something new – an event format that would meet the expectations of both in-person and online attendees.
Organisers knew the event experience for delegates at the brick-and-mortar Tampa conference venue would look and feel different to the event experience for remote attendees sitting in their living rooms thousands of miles away. But they were confident that the body of knowledge shared during the event could provide equal value for all attendees. And so ASEM 2022 hIAC was born.
Events Hub Customisation, Discovery & Navigation
After setting up their conference workflow in Ex Ordo’s core abstract management software, organisers issued their call for papers, inviting both members and non-members to submit present-to-publish papers as well as presentations for consideration in ASEM 2022 hIAC. Papers and presentations were requested in both traditional and emerging areas of engineering management, broken down into 12 domains and tracks, each with suggested topics.
Within Ex Ordo’s central communications hub, leaders of individual tutorials, workshops, panels, roundtables, and special sessions were sent instructions and deadlines for authors submitting documents, describing the details of their session.
Organisers could collect everything directly from presenting authors, including unlimited videos, PDFs, posters, slides, and images. This was particularly reassuring for virtual authors, knowing that they would be covered should any internet connectivity issues arise whilst presenting live.
Once presentations had been collected, organisers used our visual event builder to populate the sessions in their technical programme. The conflict checker feature made sure presenters were never scheduled in two places at once. In the run-up to the big day, organisers could host open or private rehearsals for presenters, share screens and take questions, and make recordings to share on-demand, all from within our events hub.
Hybrid Stages, Live Streamed Sessions & On-demand Content
Live stage management
From within our events hub, organisers could appoint stage managers to run live sessions, keep tabs on these sessions and step in if someone needed help, manage speakers backstage, turn mics and cameras on or off, allow attendees to live chat and ask questions, take the pulse of the room with audience polls, and use the real-time feedback to drive discussion.
Live streamed & recorded sessions
There were two hybrid stages, with parallel sessions presented on-site, both live streamed and recorded. All the keynote and plenary sessions were live streamed and recorded, while technical sessions were live streamed, but not recorded. For all live streamed sessions (recorded or not), the logistics were the same – speakers wore a lapel mic, and a camera carried the feed in the Ex Ordo events hub. Thanks to our system’s enterprise-grade streaming quality, all sessions went off without a hitch.
Recordings of keynotes, presentations, and technical sessions generated during the conference were hosted in the Ex Ordo events hub. The in-built smart feature of the recordings file manager identified the appropriate session based on time of recording and stage manager information, which enabled organisers to quickly and easily populate on-demand videos to the correct sessions, usually by the end of each conference day. The content was made available to all attendees, and was accessible for 60 days after the event.
Key Learnings, Future Planning
As this was the first time ASEM was holding a hybrid conference, the organisers knew there would be a lot of questions from delegates about the new format. To reduce unnecessary admin, they published a comprehensive list of FAQs, making it clear upfront what delegates could expect should they choose to register as in-person or virtual attendees.
In late September 2022, Tampa found itself directly in the path of Hurricane Ian, and a state of emergency was declared across the entire Sunshine State. Thanks to a robust digital strategy developed during the pandemic,
Ex Ordo has supported ASEM with their annual conference pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, and now post-pandemic. From a physical format, to virtual format, and this most recent hybrid format, we continue to flex and grow together. Organisers leverage their knowledge from previous years to design new event formats that meet their audience’s evolving expectations. And we strive to continuously shape and develop our platform in line with our customers’ needs.
We are proud to say that Ex Ordo will, once again, be powering ASEM’s upcoming annual conference, scheduled for Denver, Colorado in late October 2023.