Source: Douglas Magazine Author: Amanda Wilson
Featuring contributor Tessa Bousfield, Branding & Events Director VIATEC
Zoom, Hangout, Team: Making the Shift from In-Person to Virtual Events
The COVID-19 government-mandated lockdown in mid-March has had a domino effect on the festivals and events industry in Victoria. First to go were events planned for April, then May and June, followed by continuing announcements that private and government summer events have been cancelled, without a firm date on when in-person events can resume.
For event producers the coronavirus pandemic has been a nightmare, but many have pro-actively moved online, creating virtual events and webinars, as businesses and industry organizations also jump into the fray.
One event that’s made a successful shift is the Victoria chapter of Fuckup Nights, a global movement launched in Mexico City almost a decade ago. The format features presenters, typically entrepreneurs, who each have seven minutes to tell their stories of failure — and lessons learned — and then take questions from the audience. Fuckup Nights came to Victoria three years ago courtesy of Jim Hayhurst and Ian Chisholm of The Roy Group, who brought the idea to VIATEC. With Hayhurst as emcee and The Roy Group as sponsors, it quickly grew a loyal following of attendees at sold out events celebrating its presenters’ courage to be vulnerable and authentic.
Fast Pivot Online for a Popular Victoria Event
Tessa Bousfield is the branding and events director for VIATEC and the director for Fuckup Nights. Their planned March event was quickly moved to April, with only a few weeks to plan a virtual event that would include speakers from other chapters.
“Before this pandemic,” says Bousfield, “any webinars or video conferencing I took part in were pretty bare minimum in terms of set up or creativity. Like many other people, virtual events weren’t really on my radar.”
Moving their spring Fuckup Night online resulted in a collaborative partnership with fellow Canadian chapters and the Fuckup Nights headquarters in Mexico to present the first ever Quarantine Edition.
Once they’d committed to it, Bousfield found her biggest challenge was coordinating all the moving parts and people without physical meetings.
“Counting all four presenters and each chapter host and organizer, we were coordinating with a dozen people to put the virtual event together,” she says. “We had multiple video meetings beforehand to get a handle on our goal, talk about formatting and scheduling, coach the presenters and practice the event in full before showing it to the world.”