Virtual Events – A Rimmary*

Wow, can’t believe I’ve not posted for sooooo long. I really have to feel compelled about a subject to write about it and, given the current situation we all find ourselves in, the necessity of holding events virtually has provided me with that momentum.

Let me start with the Citrix User Group UK meeting that was held on April 3rd. The content and meeting was great but there are some valuable lessons to be learnt from this event. In no way am I being critical, as the event is organised by volunteers – like all user groups are – and I personally know what commitment it takes to be one of those volunteers. However, I hope Neil et al don’t mind me sharing my thoughts, so that others may learn from the experience of moving from a physical to a virtual event at short notice. The Spring event was meant to be in Leeds on April 2nd but with the impending Covid-19 lockdown, the committee took the wise decision to move to a virtual event. There was another online event taking place on April 2nd (The VDI Performance Summit), so the CUGC UK was moved to April 3rd.

CUGC UK always stream their meetings via GoToWebinar anyways but they, unfortunately, were not aware that whilst their version would allow 1000 registrations only 100 attendees could join the call, and they had over 300 people registered with over 100 trying to login. So they switched to Zoom, posted the joining link and also emailed registrants. Neil then had to upgrade his version of Zoom (probably at his own cost, so I hope CUGC reimbursed him!) Unfortunately, we got ‘zoombombed’ rather inappropriately, so changed again to another secure link and we were off – albeit 40-odd minutes late. Everyone (including me, rather unusually) was very patient during this time but later I saw a couple of inappropriate, unsupportive comments on social media. That disappointed me, as people need to understand these are exceptional circumstances and need to remember the #BeKind movement!! But the meeting went really smoothly after the initial hiccups, with lots of good interaction and I really liked the side conversations going on via the EUC World CUGC Slack channel that had been made available to attendees.

From a sponsors’ perspective, there were actually more attendees attending this virtual meeting than there are usually IRL. The CUGC UK committee was sure to call out the support of the sponsors and recognise that without them even virtual meetings can’t take place!

As discussed above, the VDI Performance Summit took place on 2 April. I didn’t personally attend this, although I’ve listened to a couple of the presentations since that have been posted online. This event was more than just a meeting; it was a virtual event in the true nature of an event, with breakout sessions and interaction with the sponsors.

Liquidware Unplugged – my client Liquidware has been at the forefront of supporting their customers with the new work from home (#WFH) initiatives. They’ve developed lots of assets, including new reports in their Stratusphere UX solution, to aid work from home practices. They also launched a new webinar series called Liquidware Unplugged. Rather than the usual webinar format of death by PowerPoint, they hosted an interactive GoToWebinar where there was no .ppt, just a bunch of experts discussing challenges of work from home and answering questions from the participants. It was a format that seemed to be well received by the folks attending it:

London VMUG

VMUG HQ has provided its leaders with a Zoom account to host virtual meetings and today’s London VMUG went as smoothly – if not more so – than the usually well orchestrated and staged actual meetings held at TechUK. The Zoom platform, in my opinion, really is the best virtual meeting solution in the market currently. Yes, they’ve been lambasted for security issues, but those seem to have now been addressed.

Today’s meeting was well managed, with excellent content and speakers – sticking to the agenda and timings with military precision. The chat window was well utilised and monitored and the breaks in the agenda enabled old friends and colleagues to have a chat and catch up – just as they would at TechUK, it certainly didn’t match meeting IRL but it was a bloody good alternative! And, actually, at its peak had more attendees than a usual F-2-F meeting.

For me the outstanding presentation of the day was from Katherine Skilling of VMware. The title of her presentation was Finding My Way – Who am I and what can I offer and was about personal development. It attracted some great compliments on the chat window as well as on Twitter and, personally, I think a better title would have been Skilling Talking About Skilling Up! Or as Christian Mohn tweeted:

D

Duncan encouraged Katherine to submit her presentation for a VMworld session – which we all agreed she should do. And now the deadline for CFPs has been extended to May 15, she has no excuses not to!

The Rimmary Summary

A good event, whether F-2-F or virtual, is about 3 things, in my opinion:

  1. The organisation
  2. The content/speakers
  3. The participants/delegates

In the case of the London VMUG, the critical factor is the vCommunity. Duncan posted this note on the chat panel:

It is not disrespectful to other virtual events he’s attended, it is kudos to the London VMUG committee members, the content and speakers and the London VMUG community – you all rock!

I think virtual events are here to stay, not just for this year but also beyond the Covid-19 situation. They have a place right now for sure but I think there’s merit in their continuation for certain events in the future too. However, you really can’t beat F-2-F, whether that’s for events, meetings, coaching, or vBeers/vWine – and I look forward to seeing many of you IRL soon.

Stay safe and well everyone!

* A Rimmary is a word made up by me! It means a summary according to Rimmer.

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