The New York chapter of ComSciCon, currently based out of Cornell University, partnered with Whova to run their annual Science Communications Conference virtually for the first time. STEM graduates and post-doctoral researchers from New York universities, including Cornell, Binghamton, Syracuse, Rochester, and more, gathered on Whova for the virtual conference.
With Whova’s support, the organizers managed the information of prominent engineers, scientists, and Ivy League professors speaking at the event.
Interview with the Organizers
The annual science communications conference began six years ago as an insider Cornell event but has since expanded to the whole state of New York. Cornell, a world-renowned university in New York, was founded in 1865 and has funded parts of the event to help early career researchers learn how to effectively communicate science with the public, policymakers, and through social media or art.
Using Whova’s all-in-one event management platform, the organizers helped attendees connect and exchange contact information while quickly sending updates in the app.
- Managing speaker information
The small team of graduate student organizers had a full academic load with limited time to gather and set up speaker information. They needed an efficient system to help them streamline this process and reduce their workload.
- Networking at the event
The annual conference was postponed last year due to COVID-19, so it was important attendees made up for the lost time by engaging with each other and networking through discussions and 1:1 messaging on the app.
- Communicating with attendees
As a virtual event for the first time, the organizers wanted to ensure they could reach attendees with updates before, during, and after the event. They also wanted the announcements to remain in a central place.
- Seeing which sessions were the most popular
The organizers wanted to see session attendance during and after the event to understand which sessions were the most popular to analyze the records and adjust sessions at future conferences.
- Empower speakers to upload their own information
The organizers utilized Whova’s online speaker center to invite speakers to upload biographies and session details. The organizers could email all or specific speakers through the center to contact them quickly. If the speakers needed to access their information at any point, they could click on their personal links and edit their pages. Any updates made by the speakers or organizers were automatically updated on the platform.
- Facilitate networking through Community Board discussion and messaging
The Community Board, an online chat forum designed to help attendees network, was a popular space where attendees posted discussion topics and connected over chats. Attendees posted topics to introduce themselves or chat about science communication resources in their industry.
Attendees also met each other face to face in virtual and in-person meetups. They further connected by sharing photos on the app while also liking and commenting on other attendees’ photos.
“Whova was a huge asset for that [schedule of events] because we were able to use a lot of the chat options to have people put in resources and basically have a whole hub of everything.”Joseph Long
The Community Board was a great opportunity for attendees to introduce themselves
- Notify attendees through announcements and live polls
The announcements and live polls were great tools the organizers used to communicate with attendees virtually during the event. They could send in-app announcements by manually adding attendees, choosing specific attendee categories or ticket types, or selecting all attendees.
After selecting recipients, they could send both an email and in-app message or choose to send just one. It was easy to set up announcements before the event started; all the organizers had to do was select specific times they wanted announcements to appear in the app. Any announcements made by the organizers remained in a discussion topic in the Community Board.
The live polling option helped the organizers understand how attendees felt by asking them to rate their overall event experience. Speakers could also set up live polls during their sessions to help them further engage the audience.
Attendees could participate in polls posted by the organizers
- View session attendance through Whova
Whova’s attendee viewing page automatically tracks when attendees join a session and records watch duration along with their contact information. The organizers utilized this feature to gather information on the most popular sessions and see how long attendees stayed in each. They could export the comprehensive lists to save for next year’s event.
The organizers could see what sessions attendees were joining and how long they stayed in