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Tech Spec: Pivoting from a live event to the virtual universe 

 Jake Burnham from First Event explains how the agency created a virtual global conference for over 10,000 people in two months. 

When social restrictions hit, First Event turned a negative into a positive by converting a 700capacity cryptocurrency conference into virtual conference. 

The Japanese-themed event was attended by more than 10,000 delegates around the world. First Event worked with its client Input Output HK (IOHK), an industry leader in blockchain technology, to flip its planned physical 2020 summit in Kyoto to a fully virtual event in the space of two months. 

People could meet up in a virtual townstocked with a bar. 

First Event oversaw all aspects of the virtual event, including content creation, registrations, speaker preparation, setup and delivery. 

Jake Burnham

Running from 2.30pm12.30am UK time to accommodate global audiences, First Event livestreamed five auditoriums simultaneously on a bespoke branded virtual platform. Virtual spaces included: a main auditorium for keynote speakers; an exhibition area; breakout rooms for additional interactive presentations; a separate videocalling space where people could meet up in a virtual townstocked with a bar.  

Online activities, included a Japanese calligraphy lesson, cocktail making masterclass and meditation sessions. Speakers included renowned and worldwide industry influencers engaging on a range of topics, including Google’s Vice President, and internet pioneer, Vint Cerf.  

All sessions featured interactive elements like live chat functions, Q&As, and polls allowing twoway conversations. 10,671 people registered with a top viewing audience at any one time of 5,560 who tuned in for the keynote from IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson. 

“Having worked with the First Event team in Miami last year, I knew their experience in the virtual events space would be invaluable. Jake and his team were instrumental in making this event the success that it was.” IOHK’s Kerry De Jong said. 

Burnham was keen to work with the IOHK team again and that compared to the 2019 summit in Miami, it was just as rewarding albeit in a very different way. The summit itself had a strong UX/UI – simple to use and navigate – which opened my eyes to a new way of doing things.” 

It’s generally accepted that virtual events are now the new norm, even though conferences and exhibitions will be permitted in the UK from 1 October 2020. However, this decision depends on data regarding the possibilities of a second wave of Covid-19, with local authorities having the powers to close events if there is a danger to the public. 

In effect, this highlights the importance of event planners having the agility to flip from a live event into a virtual one.