The African Women in Media Conference #AWiM21 brought together scholars, journalists, policy actors, and media professionals virtually on Whova’s platform to discuss pertinent questions in the equal and fair representation of African women in the media. Attendees joined from over 30 countries around the world, including Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and the United States.
Significant support for the conference came from the MacArthur Foundation, International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), African Union, Women in News (WAN-IFRA), Fojo Media Institute, United Nations Environment Programme, and UN Women. By utilizing Whova’s many features, the organizers created a collaborative and inspiring environment to talk about necessary changes in media policies.
About African Women in Media
African Women in Media began in 2016 as a Facebook group for women working in the media to inspire, support, and empower each other. Now a registered non-profit organization with networks worldwide, they celebrated their 5th annual international conference this year using Whova’s all-in-one event management platform. Their primary mission is to achieve equal representation and opportunities for African women in the media. Using Whova’s platform, attendees had many opportunities to network at one of the largest gatherings of this kind in Africa, and speakers utilized the app’s engagement features to connect with attendees during live sessions.
- Motivate online networking
Networking is a major reason attendees look forward to this annual conference, so it was critical they had plenty of opportunities to connect online or set up face-to-face meetings.
- Communicate with attendees
As their second time conducting a virtual conference, the organizers knew how important it was to communicate clearly with attendees. They wanted to remind attendees of session start times and other critical announcements.
- Encourage attendee session engagement
With a fully live-streamed conference, the organizers wanted to ensure attendees were actively engaged with the speakers by asking questions or participating in group discussions. They needed an online platform to facilitate these kinds of interactions during a live session.
- Monitor live session activity
The organizers needed a way to track live session activity to make sure attendees were getting the most from their sessions and learning from top journalists and United Nations executives.
- Connecting attendees face-to-face with Speed Networking sessions
Attendees had many opportunities to connect one-on-one in Whova’s Speed Networking sessions. The exciting and fast-paced sessions automatically placed attendees in a video call with another attendee when they joined. After five minutes at each virtual table, attendees were randomly shuffled to meet a new person. In the multiple Speed Networking sessions, attendees could meet and connect personally with many professionals in their field.
To inspire more attendees to join, the organizers gamified the sessions to offer a prize when attendees met the winning requirements. Attendees who stayed in the Speed Networking sessions for at least 20 minutes were entered in a raffle to win a free learning course at AWiMLearning.
Attendees could earn prizes for participating in the Speed Networking sessions
- Chatting in group discussions or joining Meet-ups in the Community Board
It was easy to chat online using the app’s Community Board, an online networking forum designed to enhance attendee connections. The Community Board was a great place to share articles, introduce themselves through the Icebreakers feature, and connect in social groups. Attendees created and chatted in discussion topics on the board, talking about anything from African women in the media to personal hobbies and interests. They could also schedule group video meet-ups through Whova’s platform to fit up to 30 attendees.
Whova made it easy to quickly exchange contact information with new connections through the app’s e-business cards. Attendees could create and digitally store the business cards directly in the app. Attendees could also search for comprehensive profiles, populated with personal information from each attendee, in the “Attendees” tab to connect over 1:1 messaging.
The key selling point [of our conference] is networking. We were looking for a platform that would allow us to do that.Dr. Yemisi Akinbobola
- Incentivizing participation in the app’s networking features with gamification
The Leaderboard Contest, one of Whova’s many gamification features, motivated attendees to participate in the Community Board by awarding attendees points when they posted on the board or answered surveys and polls. As attendees earned more and more points, they automatically moved to a higher spot on the leaderboard list. At the end of the conference, the attendee with the most points was awarded an AWiM gold movers membership package.
Another great tool, the Photo and Caption contests, invited attendees to share photos and create captivating captions for each picture for the chance to win free AWiMLearning courses and be spotlighted on their social media channels. The photo and captions with the most likes at the end of the conference were announced as winners through the app’s Announcement feature.
Attendees could follow the Leaderboard during the contest to see the attendees with the most points
- Scheduling announcements to show up at specific times in the app
The organizers reduced their workload during the live conference by setting up automated announcements before the conference began. They created a template to send out 30 minutes before each session, and then again 5 minutes before by scheduling the specific times in Whova’s advanced settings. The attendees loved the reminders and clear communication for the start of each live session.
The organizers could schedule announcements to send at specific times during the conference
- Motivating session participation with live polls and Q&A
Speakers could poll their audiences about topics they would like to hear about in the future or get the conversation started with open-ended questions using Whova’s polls. The speakers or organizers could customize polls to show up during specific sessions or times as multiple-choice, free-response, or yes/no answers. The speakers could view the answers online and incorporate them into their talks.
With the in-app Q&A feature, attendees were the ones asking speakers questions. All attendees could post and like questions, and as the sessions went on, the most popular questions were automatically moved to the top of the list. Session moderators could manually move questions to higher priority or delete questions when necessary.
- Keeping track of session activity
Whova’s attendance tracking features allowed the organizers to view convenient session attendance lists, complete with names, emails, company addresses, and session watch duration. They could view the lists in their organizer dashboard or download Excel sheets for individual sessions. Because all sessions were live, the organizers could see how long attendees stayed in each session and use the information to improve future conferences.
One good thing about the platform was I was able to track how many [attendees] were actively engaged.Dr. Yemisi Akinbobola