Tag Archives: Events

stressing over events

How to Run Virtual HR Events, Find Sponsors, and More: A Guide for Volunteer Leaders

Note: today’s post is geared towards volunteer leaders at SHRM chapters, ATD groups, HR state councils, event planners, and other membership organizations and associations serving fthe HR/talent professional. If that’s not you, then feel free to:

  1. Share with your own local chapter and/or
  2. Go on your merry way and offer a kind word or compliment to the next three people you talk to. Enjoy!

If you are a president, certification director, or programs leader for a professional chapter, you have had a wild year. Live events are canceling or pushing off indefinitely, and for many local groups, even the thought of something virtual can feel like unprecedented territory.

stressing over eventsAs a speaker, event host, and event producer, I know the feeling! :-) Today I’ll share some ideas about what has worked for me if you have a more “do it yourself” approach. I’ll also offer an option if you’d like me to help with your event (note: I’ve programmed or planned over 100 live events in the last 10 years and probably that many virtual or digital sessions this year alone).

Bottom line: you got this! Let’s dive into some of the things that are changing.

The Do It Yourself Approach for Online HR Events

The biggest perceived hurdle when it comes to online events is the delivery. How do we get content that has traditionally been delivered on a stage to our audience? The answer is technology. 2020 will go down as the year that Zoom became a term that everyone over the age of five years old understands, but is Zoom right for your event?

Zoom can be used for smaller meetings, and you can pay for Zoom webinars (a better and more intuitive version of GoToWebinar and some of the other older solutions in that space), but today’s environment is driving attendees to want to be more engaged and participatory in events.

Livestreaming

Many events are now looking at livestreaming. You can easily livestream to a chapter Facebook page or a YouTube channel, for example, and you don’t have to pay extra if you have 10 viewers or 1,000 like you would with most webinar software. You also get the social aspect woven in: attendees can see who else is there, chat with each other, and more. I have found this to be very powerful for creating connections with the audience.

I use StreamYard for streaming and it has been very valuable as a tool. It’s inexpensive, and all of your sessions are archived after you finish broadcasting. You could even use Streamyard to host panel discussions if you prefer that style to a more traditional keynote. Note: the StreamYard link above will give you a $10 coupon if you sign up!

Virtual Event Platforms

Event apps like Whova are also becoming more important. A new event app just got millions of dollars in venture capital funding because it has seen the space explode in popularity recently. These types of apps allow event organizers to host virtual sessions, offer expo areas for sponsors, and allow attendees to register and engage with the other participants during the sessions. This is more expensive and may be better suited for a virtual conference rather than monthly or quarterly educational sessions. Note: the Whova link above will get you a $100 coupon if you sign up!

Archiving and Selling Your Content

If you want to archive the content and offer it for payment after the fact, an idea that is new to many HR chapters and may lead to long-term revenue for supporting chapter programming, community donations, and other needs, you need a system to hold the content after it’s been recorded.

Two of the leading players in that space are Thinkific and Podia. In about 10 minutes, you can add a recorded video, set up your pricing, and have a link available for people to purchase the recorded session. The best part? You don’t have to touch it again!

Plus, in Thinkific, you can even set the content so people can’t fast forward through it, then have the certification codes from HRCI/SHRM at the end of the session for attendees to submit for credits. I have had some people try to cheat and skip the content, and this prevents that from happening.

Rethinking Content for Virtual HR Events

A few things on content when it comes to virtual events:

  • New research from Microsoft shows our attention span starts to dip at 40 minutes on a video call. If you can add a layer of interactivity, that can help to boost attention and interest.
  • More engaging/dynamic conversations, such as panel discussions, can help to add a layer of excitement that could be harder to get with a single speaker.
  • Individual speakers can get away with being a bit sluggish in person, but it becomes almost painful in a virtual setting. Find someone that conveys emotion, excitement, and passion with their words and body language.

Sponsors, Payments, and Speaking Fees

Sponsors: sponsors STILL want to get in front of your audience. They still want to support your programs. But they need to know that it’s worth the investment. Coming up with some creative packages and approaches for sponsors to drive interest and engagement is critical here. There are a few key things sponsors want:

  • Leads and connections: they want to sell. Period.
  • Thought leadership and exposure: they want to be seen as experts for your audience.

Finding new and creative ways to give them those things, as I have done with many of the events I’ve planned this year, can lead to great outcomes for your events and for the sponsors helping to make them happen.

Speakers: you should expect to pay many professional speakers for their appearance on a virtual session as well. I have personally done about 20 free events this year as a way to give back while the community is hurting, but I also speak as a way to feed my family. Virtual events still require a great delivery (maybe even a better delivery, based on what I shared above), amazing content, and a deep connection with your audience. For events I am participating in, I’m seeing about 30-40% of normal speaker fees being paid for keynotes right now.

Silver lining: you might get a speaker your chapter could never afford in person!

Pricing: on the pricing front, YES you can charge people for virtual events. The bigger/longer they are (conference, full day workshop) the more you can charge them. If it’s shorter, you may decide to offer some content for free or reduced prices.

And remember, if you’re recording all of the virtual events you are doing, you have the option of putting it up on a site like Podia and have the replay on sale indefinitely. Your audience can pay anywhere from $9 to $99 (or more) depending on the length, the number of credits, and the demand for the topic. I’ll repeat that: your audience will keep buying it as long as it continues to be relevant.

Most chapters only make money when they run a live event or host a membership drive, but this kind of ongoing revenue stream can be very valuable for smoothing out the feast or famine budgets of some chapters, allowing you to serve your community in better ways.

Getting Some Help for Your Virtual HR Events

If you have read this and you feel like your head may explode, don’t worry! I am working with a partner on several events across the United States from the planning to the content to the production and everything in between. If you’d like help with any of the following, just reach out:

  • Planning compelling, relevant content for your virtual HR event
  • Deciding how to get sponsors interested in your virtual event
  • Making a profit on a virtual event that rivals your profit on an in-person event (with much less risk!)

Bottom line, the world is a different place, at least for the time being. I hope this helps you think through some of the nuances of virtual events and gives you some ideas on how to make yours amazing. Keep serving the HR community–they need you!

working parents

Childcare, School, and the Workforce: Practical Ideas for a Universal Challenge

A new study shows childcare shortages in the U.S. are costing employers $12.7 billion a year due to lost productivity. As the dad of four kids ages 10 and under, I can understand where the numbers are coming from.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of conversations about childcare and how it relates to the workplace. COVID-19 shutdowns have put parents in the stressful situation of struggling to balance work while having children at home. Add to that discussions about virtual schooling, and it’s easy to see how this has become a central pain point for employees – and the organizations frantically trying to support them.

In this livestream session to be held on Tuesday, September 1st at 12:00 central (1:00p eastern, 10:00a pacific), panelists will bring a diverse set of perspectives, eye-opening data, and concrete examples to help employers consider how they can support parents in the workforce.

However, I’d also love to hear from YOU during this session. Has anything worked well for you? What has been your experience? How can we learn from each other and from our set of expert panelists and practitioners? After all, a rising tide lifts all ships, and any knowledge shared in this area makes for better outcomes for all of us.

antiracism forum

Antiracism Forum for Business Leaders: You’re Invited

Did you know that research shows diversity training doesn’t create better environments for people of color in the workplace? (HBR) That’s partly due to the fact that these programs spend time telling people how to avoid legal trouble, not how to actively understand, support and encourage these individuals that bring value, insight, and perspective to the business.

What if we could change that?

Later this month I have the distinct honor to participate in an event that’s trying to help make strides in this direction. George Rogers and I will be co-moderating the Antiracism Forum put on by PeopleStrategy in conjunction with the National Association for African Americans in HR. I am honored to have a front row seat to the conversations with an amazing array of experts to learn and grow alongside the audience.

Do I expect to be comfortable? No.

Do I think it’s going to have an impact and help change the world for the better? Yes. Yes I do.

Side note: if you don’t have the pleasure of already knowing George Rogers who will be moderating the event with me, he’s an amazing leader and professional. I am thrilled to be able to share the virtual stage with him.

If this sounds interesting, click here to register for free. You can also read on below for what to expect from this special event.

antiracism forum

Just like we know that there’s value in having diverse individuals in a group to add perspective and insight, we know that making a change has to be a group effort.

Each day of the event, George and I will be facilitating panel discussions around key issues that we need to get right from an employment perspective: culture, hiring, development, and more. It’s our goal to push past the comfortable boundaries of diversity to the uncomfortable conversations of racism and equality. It’s not enough to claim support. It’s time to act.

We have a series of world-class speakers, teachers, and practitioners ready to contribute their expertise. Some of the confirmed panelists include:

  • Chaveso Cook, US Army Major, mentoring expert, and doctoral student at Tufts University
  • Sarah Morgan, HR professional, inclusion advocate, and founder of the upcoming HROI Summit
  • Jon Walton, expert in multicultural leadership development and veteran change transformation leader
  • Lakisha Brooks, Chief People Officer, training and coaching expert
  • Stephen Paskoff, Esq., an expert on workplace legal issues and culture/leadership change

Click here to register for free.

One last thing: please feel free to invite your team. Bring your managers. Make it a requirement for your executive leadership. Invite your peers.

So many of you are likely putting together diversity training, and as I mentioned to start this article, that is unlikely to lead to any substantive change. That’s not an indictment on you–that’s a function of how we learn as humans. You could use this forum as the curriculum for your own development program around racial justice. For instance, have your team join for the discussions with you, then debrief together afterward to see how the concepts tie in with your culture, your people, and their unique needs.

This is an active conversation, not a passive one.  Together we can work to change the conversation.

HR Summer School Logo

#HRSummerSchool: Time for Extra Credit!

Two weeks ago we ran a live, virtual event that has already been seen by tens of thousands of HR professionals, talent leaders, students, and more. One of the sessions gave us technical issues, so we are running what we are lovingly calling an “extra credit” session and I would love to have you attend!

If you didn’t attend HR Summer School, you missed an epic experience. I haven’t published a formal update based on the event, but suffice to say it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We had thousands of comments, new connections, and interaction beyond any other HR webcast or webinar you have ever experienced.

FYI: many of our attendees were interested in the books written by the speakers. You can get those here on Amazon. If you want your #HRSummerSchool commemorative shirt or other gear, that’s found here.

Just check out the map below to see where attendees participated from around the world. It probably wouldn’t surprise you after seeing this map to hear that over ONE MILLION minutes of HR Summer School have been watched on LinkedIn already since the event. 😮

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Before I get to the extra credit session, let me share with you a few of the many comments from those that participated in HR Summer School live, in no particular order. Click through the images below to see some of the amazing feedback.

One participant told me that she was about to get out of HR because it wasn’t exciting anymore. After two days of participating in the event, she said her passion had been rekindled and that she was excited to look for a new employer that actually values the input from HR in the business. If she had been the only participant, I would have called this event worthwhile, but thankfully (as you can see below) we had so many more amazing participants.  Continue reading

Bringing HR Together: Announcing HR Summer School #hrsummerschool

HR Summer School
In the middle of the strange state we are in right now, one thing is certain: HR conferences are out. Of the 10 speaking events at spring conferences, internal training events, and workshops I was scheduled to attend, four of them were canceled, four of them “postponed,” and the other two were moved to virtual. Our family is definitely feeling this challenging time along with the rest of you.

If you were planning on getting recertification credits or building your professional network at an event this month, you may be out of luck.

To compound that issue, I’ve seen posts from friends (and even a new Slack community sprouting up) that have been furloughed, laid off, or outright terminated because of the current economic standstill.

So I decided to reach out to some friends and colleagues in the industry to do something about it. I’d like to introduce you to HR Summer School. This is a free, virtual HR event designed to bring us closer together while improving our skills as talent leaders.

HR Summer School: The Details

This event is something I’ve been thinking about for some time, but the issues facing our various communities right now have pushed it urgently to the forefront. The goal is to not only drop a bunch of content on you, but recreate the opportunity to connect with and engage with both speakers and other attendees throughout the event.

Tickets are free! Anyone can come, whether it be an HR pro, a small business owner looking for HR help, or even students that need some practical understanding of HR in the real world.

This event will be livestreamed the week of June 1st daily from 10a-2:30p central time. That’s a lot of content, but if you register for the main event you can attend any session you want during the conference at your leisure. Simply come and go for the sessions that matter most to you. More details on sessions and speakers will be shared in the next few days.

We will have over 30 speakers sharing their insights around:

  • recruiting
  • training
  • inclusion and diversity
  • talent management
  • leadership development
  • managing teams
  • coaching and mentoring
  • wellness and wellbeing
  • resilience
  • and more!

In addition, we will be hosting daily trivia competitions to add to the “fun factor,” courtesy of our friends at Water Cooler Trivia.

We have several amazing supporters already lined up for the event, but we are accepting a few more sponsors and partners if anyone is interested in coming alongside our team for this community event.

Giving back: Can you help?

I have a request. We are doing this event for free, but our hope is that it will be the largest online HR summit ever. Now is the time to pull together and support each other.

The event link is HRSummerSchool.org

If you are an educator, share this with your students, but also share it with your peers so they can share with their students as well.

If you are an HR practitioner, share this with 2-3 friends you think could benefit from the latest thinking on the topics listed above. Or share it with all of them, we don’t mind.

If you are a SHRM chapter or association leader, share this with your members as a free resource or benefit.

Heck, even if you’re just married to someone in HR, make sure they register and share as well! :-)

At the time of this writing, we already have over 100 people registered to attend and the event hadn’t even been formally announced yet! There’s clearly a need for quality education and connection right now.

Questions? Please feel free to reach out to me at any time. I’m honored to support HR leaders like you in this time.

disrupthr hsv

#DisruptHR HSV 2.0 is Coming April 2019

TL;DR version: DisruptHR HSV is coming back to Huntsville! See links below for details. Early bird tickets available through March 31st.

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It all started with an event. A real, no-kidding live event. Back in 2009 I had just started blogging, and a friend and I set up a mini conference as a way to get people together, expand relationships, and learn together. Little did I know how far my career and life would come in ten short years. The point is that live events create special bonds and connections. They offer chances to learn and grow, sure, but they also create a space where likeminded people can connect with each other, support each other, and learn from each other. Every time one of those connections happens, I like to think that the profession that I know and love gets just a little bit better and brighter.

Fast forward to August 2018. Kristina Minyard, a different friend of 10+ years, cohosted an event with me in Huntsville, Alabama, called DisruptHR HSV. DisruptHR events happen all around the globe, and we wanted to bring the innovation to our own local community. We’ve done this in many ways—we both speak locally, we both volunteer with our local HR chapter, and we are both avid advocates for better HR practices. But we wanted to take it a step further with a dedicated event.

To be honest I didn’t know what to expect. I hoped that we would sell 75 tickets and have a fun night to remember, but I didn’t know if we would do it again. It’s expensive. It’s a lot of work.

Then it happened. And I was totally blown away.

We sold out of tickets several times, were moved to the biggest space in the event facility, and eventually topped out at around 150 people in attendance.

The speakers for this event really made it, though. Some of them were experts, some of them were newbies, but all of them got up there and delivered five minutes of thought-provoking content to help the audience think differently about themselves, their work, and their lives.

We had a handful of amazing sponsors to help us cover the costs, and we are forever thankful for their support.
disrupthr shirts
Why the reminiscing? Well, because the event was such a success, Kristina and I have decided to host DisruptHR HSV 2.0 on Thursday, April 18th, 2019. Tickets are on sale here, and because our shirts were so popular we are selling shirts at cost with your ticket purchase to help spread the message. Speaker submissions are open for a little while longer. Sponsors should reach out to me about our new packages to reach this influential audience–we have increased the branding and reach from last year to help our sponsor partners have even more value.

We even had attendees come from Atlanta and Birmingham last year, because this event is one that you can’t find just anywhere else.

I hope to see you in April. Early bird tickets are available for a little while longer. Get them while you can!

 

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#DisruptHR HSV 1.0 is in the books!

Last week I did something here on the blog that I haven’t done in a LOOONG time. I didn’t post anything. But it wasn’t because I had nothing to say–it’s because I was neck deep in final preparations for DisruptHRHSV, which happened last Thursday night.

This event was a long time coming and we had participants from as far away as Houston and Atlanta come to join us for the event. With about 150 participants, including 14 speakers and a handful of amazing sponsors, there were plenty of balls to juggle leading up to the session!

Bottom line: it was pretty darn amazing. If you were there, I appreciate your support and your participation. If you weren’t, I hope you can join us next time (more to come on this)! We’ll be posting the videos of the event on the DisruptHR website after they come back from the videographer so you can see how it turned out, but for me it was like getting family together (the kind of family you like!) to talk about something that we’re all passionate about: HR, people, and business.

A quick shout out to our speakers that had the courage to stand up and share their stories/passions–well done!

Additionally, our sponsor partners were amazing and we are so thankful they worked with us to make this event special. I like ’em so much I put their names on the special DisruptHR shirts I had made last week. :-) Thanks again PeopleStrategy, ADP, PassionHR, and Paycor! DisruptHR Shirt

This week I have a lot of great things in store for you. I’m doing some writing around compliance, investigations, and HR metrics that I am looking forward to sharing with you. Additionally, I did an interview with Collette Williamson from Southwest Airlines to uncover some of their expertise around building a great culture that I should be posting this week as well. Stay tuned for good stuff!