The Center for Servant Leadership and Wisconsin Servant Leadership banded together to hold the International Servant-Leader Summit virtually through Whova in June 2021. Though this was the 3-day leadership conference’s first time online, with the help of Whova’s gamification features, Community Board, live speaker polls, and tier sponsorship driving up engagement and ROI, it was a success.
About the International Servant-Leader Summit
The International Servant-Leader Summit aims to gather servant-leaders from all over the world and give them a space to teach others how to build their own servant-leader communities. Servant-leadership is a model of ethical leadership, where power isn’t individually accumulated, but shared by leaders who serve their community. Among the dozens of leadership experts who spoke at the event were bestselling authors, motivational speakers, as well as presidents and CEOs of management training and consulting firms.
The organizers originally chose to work with Whova in March 2020 to increase engagement at the live event. Then COVID rearranged those plans, and left the summit at a standstill for months. But, with Whova’s support, the organizers learned to adapt and subsequently thrived in the event’s new virtual space.
Community Board Posts
- Hosting a less tech-savvy audience
While some of the attendees were college students, most of them were in mid-career, the average attendee being 50 years old. Navigating the systems of an entirely online conference could be tricky for this age group.
- Facilitating international networking
The summit involved attendees, volunteers, and speakers from all over the world. How could all these people connect meaningfully while being in different time zones
- Hosting an online event for the first time
Global pandemics have a tendency to incite change and force adaptation. How could the organizers, accustomed to in-person events, cope with the transition to a purely online event with new, unfamiliar virtual systems?
- Providing resources
Conferences for people are also conferences of information. Dozens of types of resources must be made available easily and intuitively for the attendees.
- Allowing attendees to access content asynchronously
Many attendees had busy schedules which meant they weren’t going to be able to attend every session live. The organizers wanted to make sure they could still access content asynchronously.
- Intuitive, user-friendly event platform
Whova’s user interface proved comfortable for the summit’s older audience to engage with. Especially helpful: the app can be published before the actual event. This gives attendees the chance to scope out the event’s agenda, play with the app’s features ahead of time, and chat with other attendees through networking and engagement tools. Attendees experience less event anxiety, and more fun and networking.
- Instant customer support
This feature was one the summit organizers “appreciated all the way through”. They could ask the Whova Customer Service Team questions directly from the organizer dashboard. New to virtual events, the organizers initially “didn’t even know the right questions to ask,” making being able to ask questions as they came up invaluable. Whova’s efficient and responsive customer service worked in tandem with the organizer’s own ability to adapt and organize an event virtually to host a successful event.
[Whova’s] customer service help is fantastic. They got back to us quickly, let us know where to go if you couldn’t answer it in the chat. I appreciated that all the way through.Mary Walsdorf
- Live Q&As
Live Q&As directly followed the summit’s pre-recorded sessions. Whova’s Q&A feature works by letting attendees submit questions during the Q&A. They can vote for their favorite questions and leave comments, while moderators can pin questions and mark them as answered. With these engagement features, the audience was able to interact with and get an instant response from a speaker on the other side of the world, making that connection feel immediate and giving the virtual event a more personal touch.
Moderators could pin questions asked and voted on by attendees with Whova’s Q&A function
- Asynchronous networking
Attendees networked asynchronously by leaving messages at the Whova’s Community Board, a feature that acts as events’ communication hub. There, attendees can join in and create their own discussion threads, coordinating rideshares, advertising jobs, directly communicating with organizers, and more.
By the time the summit concluded, attendees had made over 1000 posts on the Community Board in the span of 3 days. Thanks to this Whova feature, attendees could engage in multiple conversations at once during the time most convenient for them without worrying about time zones.
What I appreciated most were the networking opportunities for our participants. Even though they were in different time zones, it didn’t feel like anyone couldn’t connect with other attendees.Mary Walsdorf
- Document hosting
Documents were uploaded to Whova, where they could provided as a general resource for the event or attached to specific sessions. The attendees could then access that particular session’s documents, keeping the summit’s resources organized by session instead of scattered throughout the app.
Speakers and organizers could attach hand-outs and other resources to specific sessions
- Session recording and uploading
If an attendee’s schedule didn’t align with a particular session, they still had the chance to watch that session’s recording and access any resource even after the summit ended. The organizers elected to let their Whova app remain available to attendees a full 6 months after the initial event. Thanks to this particular Whova feature, the summit and its resources continued to remain relevant long after it was over.
The organizers recorded sessions so attendees could view them later, either from the corresponding agenda item or the event’s video library