Live Group explains how it staged one of the largest virtual conferences of 2020 on behalf of the Civil Service.
Civil Service Live is an annual event hosted to unify the Civil Service community. There are education sessions, panel discussions and debates, featuring appearances from some of the leading experts in the sector, such as Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office, Alex Chisholm.
Civil Service Live is designed to educate, engage and inspire. But in 2020, Covid-19 stood in the way of these objectives, at a time when it was crucial for the civil service community to discuss how best to work together through the crisis.
The Civil Service’s rolling roadshow was ground to a halt just weeks out from showtime and it needed to find a new event partner fast. This partner had to be an experienced and trusted authority in the virtual event space who could help the governmental department to pivot its approach to a virtual offering – a first for the organisation. It needed to be accessible, sustainable, and capable of delivering content to a huge global audience.
Live Group had just the approach in mind.
With the starting pistol firing one month from launch, the Live Group team worked with focus and
pace to build a virtual event infrastructure, capable of handling the daunting size of the expected
audience, while developing a content and comms approach, which could be delivered to the prohibitive budget and on time.
One crucial element that required careful consideration was the expected audience size, which stood in the tens of thousands.
With this issue front-of-mind, attention was paid to the user experience when developing a bespoke virtual platform: clear registration pathways, a robust engagement strategy to hook audiences in and hold their attention, plus a rock-solid infrastructure capable of delivering a smooth streaming experience to every delegate.
Additional steps to improve accessibility were implemented. Working with Live Group’s UX experts, it ensured the platform adhered to best practice and exceeded accessibility criteria.
On the day
Time to broadcast – no easy feat with dozens of sessions on the agenda spanning two days, with speakers spread across the country beaming out to 48,000+ viewers.
A studio was set up in a London location to host Civil Service speakers and government officials. This venue met Covid-19 safety regulations and was attended by Live Group technicians to guarantee a flawless stream throughout the agenda.
Other remote speakers were set-up with a virtual green room. Here, they could prepare to give their presentation and receive live guidance from technicians at Live Group HQ.
With the level of talent on the docket, and the sheer numbers in attendance, stream technicians ensured the broadcasts from each location were delivered with maximum clarity.
Across the 14 and 15 July 2020, Civil Service Live was attended by over 48,000 staff – one of the largest virtual events ever held – to hear live from senior leaders from across government, pose questions, post comments, and access a tailored selection of learning and development webinars.
By amending the structure of the event from an in-person roadshow to a predominantly virtual offering, Civil Service Live 2020 wasn’t only saved from Covid-19 disruption; it also opened the discussion up to a vast audience base tuning in remotely, allowing the agenda, content and message to be spread far and wide.
By concentrating the original seven-day roadshow agenda down into a focused virtual event, engagement was improved, as was the cost effectiveness of the event.
The target delegate count for Civil Service Live 2020 was 30,000 Civil Servants, a target
exceeded with an audience of 48,479 delegates across the two live days.
Civil Service Live clocked up a total of 171,635 unique session views, and almost 6,000 comments.
These numbers grew in the months following the event: all content and keynotes remained live on the platform in a content library, readily accessible to 500,000 civil servants at any time. This level of engagement is invaluable and provides actionable data which can be used to shape future events.
Civil Service Live stands as a clear demonstration of the capabilities of a virtual and hybrid event and the potential still left to be unlocked.
It was a demonstration of platform stability in the face of mounting scale, flawless delivery in the face of constraints, as well as the growing capabilities for virtual events to bring people together, effortlessly and more sustainably.