By Thomas Nevoa Pereira, MBA2021 and Shajia Meraj, MBA2021
When we became Co-chairs for the Equall Conference event, the Covid-19 pandemic was already something familiar to us. When our co-presidents approached us however, we naively thought that we could host a physical event, for at least part of the audience. As it turns out we signed up to put together the first ever virtual Equall Conference. Below, we share our tips for how to achieve this!
No blueprint? Make up your own!
Last year’s chair, Madeline McLaughlan, was a wealth of information and she was more than willing to provide us with all the information she had. But accounting for the challenges of a virtual event is another matter. Not having a blueprint can be scary and overwhelming, but it’s also exciting. As there has never been a virtual event like this before it gave us the opportunity to create our own blueprint!
The team is also virtual
It’s not only the conference that’s virtual, so is our team! We have not had the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting since we started to work together. Building a team through conference calls presented with its challenges, but getting the right people on board was key. We are all volunteers here, so you need to get motivated people. We have members of our team with full time jobs, and they are still so committed.
Since the beginning of this project we have at least one recurring call per day for the conference. We have our sub-team meetings and then our general conference team meeting. By putting those who work on the same vertical together, we created an enhanced sense of ownership. Dividing up into smaller groups enabled us to engage and empower our team members better; it also prevented zoom fatigue!
Give a framework and have fun with it
We gave as much ownership as possible to each team. We even came up with the theme together. We gave the teams a framework of what needed to be included, but they had free reign over everything else. We were so pleased with how the teams did. They organised an incredible amount, including an impressive 8 keynote speakers and a special address by Senator Elizabeth Warren!
More is more
We have more panels, keynotes and speakers than ever before. There are several reasons for that. Firstly, we can. Virtual is not the experience we wanted to give our attendees, but on the plus side, we have no frontier to worry about; we were even able to invite people from Africa, the US, the Middle East. Secondly, because we have access to so many more speakers and we don’t need to worry about venue capacity, we are packaging content in different tracks for the second day. You lose a lot of attendees from one day to the other, but our hope is that by providing more niche content on the second day we can target special interests, thus getting people to come back.
Teams go further
We haven’t put our 20 panels together all by ourselves. This year we wanted to pioneer collaboration with as many clubs at LBS as possible. We asked everyone we knew if they would be willing to help or work with us. For instance, the Foodie, Music, Photography, Out In Business, Black in Business and Yoga clubs all contributed with activities for our breaks which was great! We leveraged everyone’s strength to bring you the best we could find.
The 17 people in our team are amazing and we couldn’t be prouder of their work. We are looking forward to how the 2021 conference goes! To sign up click here.