The Show Must Go On, And So Must the Smartfem Summit

The coronavirus pandemic has changed and disrupted the world forever. Event and meeting planners have been hit especially hard. It has forced them to adapt and innovate. The SmartFem Summit had to pivot twice this year due to the virus.

The SmartFem Summit is a two-day conference for speakers, authors, coaches, and entrepreneurs hosted every April. The event was scheduled to be a live event for April 23rd and 24th, 2020.  Instead of canceling the event, we pivoted to a virtual event on Zoom instead. 

The conference was not without its issues as our conference was Zoom bombed as it was early in the pandemic and before the new Zoom security measures now in place.

“We had to shut the call down and reengage with our attendees. It did take time, and we did lose a few from the call,” said Lea Woodford, CEO of SmartFem Media Group.

Zoom quickly became the go-to resource for anyone hosting meetings or events. While technology is great, it was not without its problems. Zoom fatigue is real, and so much of the energy and magic is lost on a Zoom call.  

After pivoting the April Summit to online we decided to do something different for the fall event. We opted for a hybrid event, part live, and part online. We converted our TV studio into a virtual stage complete with four 50-inch TV screens and a webcam. The speakers all flew in and were able to present on a full-stage, and attendees were able to see the speakers and featured panels in full-body shots.

The notable difference was the energy of the speakers and presenters. Zoom fatigue sets in when we sit for hours watching a talking head. By allowing speakers to be seen fully, attendees can read body language and experience more non-verbal clues. This kept our attendees fully present and engaged for both days.

To enhanced technology, SmartFem brought in virtual event experts to manage the tech, breakout rooms and keep the flow of the 2-day conference. They kept the flow and momentum of the conference with engagement in the chat rooms, tech support, and, of course, manning the breakout rooms.

We traditionally hold a VIP Party after our SmartFem Summit and decided to do one again in October for our Speakers and VIPs. The VIP Hangar party was held at Elite Flight Jets private hangar and our sponsors and strategic partners went out of the way to make it a success. We physically distanced, wore masks, and enjoyed amazing cocktails provided by Two Bartenders and Liquid Caterers. Our audiovisuals were amazing and provided by the late Shawn Hill of Merestone Productions. Photo opportunities for attendees and VIP’s next to the jet were such a hit.

The SmartFem Hybrid Summit made me realize that companies and organizations can offer a hybrid while budgets are still tight. Live streaming has come a long way since its inception and has created additional revenue streams and participation for attendees. Our hybrid allowed attendees to participate who would not have been able to travel. 

“SmartFem Hybrid 2020 was our first international event as we had attendees participating from Ireland, the UK, and Australia,” said founder Lea Woodford.

Live events will be coming, back but Live Streaming is here to stay as well as it provides lower-cost options for attendees and additional revenue streams for vendors.