It’s a big deal that the PMI UK Digital Events team came away with a Highly Commended award for Best Webinar Series from the recent Digital Event Awards (18 March) That’s second place in everyday language!
So why is it so important, and what did we do to win?
Major Award in the Events Industry
Although it was the Award’s inaugural event, it’s a major milestone for the Events Industry with many entries across the 21 different awards. The shortlist in our category alone numbered eight, including strong entries from multi-$100m events companies.
Looking through the shortlists for categories, including Best Digital Conference and Best Digital Exhibition, many entries included high profile organisations such as the FT, Samsung, Vauxhall and Virgin Media as well as professional events and media companies.
Our Winning Adaptive Approach
Maybe more important is to say what we did to win. There was already great feedback for our regular monthly webinars from the 3000 members of PMI UK, as well as other project professionals. These contributed to our key aims: to Educate, Inspire, Entertain, and support PMI members in maintenance of professional accreditation. Our topics were identified and aligned with current need and value through continuous feedback and benchmarking against broader industry trends. Areas such as Benefits Management, Agile, Project Data Analytics, and Cross-cultural perspectives on projects were very much on topic through 2020.
With the onset of global pandemic, however, and its associated impact on our professional and personal lives, it was evident that our virtual presence could play an important role in supporting our members and other project professionals. Not only that, but a rapid, adaptive and agile response was needed. Something that professional project managers are ready and able to deliver!
Accelerating & Leveraging Delivery
The planned response was threefold: to accelerate virtual delivery, to focus on newly relevant topics, and to walk the talk by developing robust in-house capability. Existing quality systems were adapted to embrace a new rolling 8-10 week cycle of engagement with members regarding content, promotion of events, delivery, follow-up, feedback and continuous improvement.
Webinars were ramped up from monthly to weekly, transitioning from traditional ‘speaker-led’ presentation to online interactive experiences aiming for maximal engagement. The best use was made of technology, including the excellent Mentimeter interactive platform, and webinars were delivered in line with established models of engagement, such as staged interactive touch points with the audience, and contact with additional engagement with participants in follow-up to the webinars.
Relevant topics such as Resilience, Virtual Collaboration, Career Development and Wellbeing were identified. Speakers and topics were quality assured against established standards such as the PMI Talent Triangle. And nothing was left to chance: up to 5 rehearsals were carried out with the team and speakers, audio-visual set up was optimised, and needless to say resilience was built-in with back up technology and processes.
The webinars were designed so that in addition to around 35 minutes of content, there was plenty of time for interactions and questions. Indeed upwards of 50% of attendees remained online after each event to engage with the speaker, and many engaged further after the event as a result of reflective questions within the follow-up evaluations, such as the actions points that participants would undertake.
Team behind the scenes
The DE Team are responsible for the design and delivery of high-quality online events for the benefit of project management practitioners and professionals. The DE team ‘walked its own talk’ by creating a robust in-house capability for webinar production comprising;
Marketing and Promotion
Technical and content walk-throughs
Post-event curation of webinar library
Blog / Newsletter
Survey Feedback and NPS rating
Great Project Management is the Key
Back to the Award! What were the judges looking for? Specifically ‘consistent delivery of outstanding results’ (tick – as measured by attendee feedback), ‘diversity of content, range of topics and speakers’ (tick – topics were determined through engagement with members along with benchmarking), ‘audience numbers’ (tick – there were consistently more than 120 participants, in fact up to 397), ‘high engagement’ (tick – the webinars were built around engagement, despite the large numbers attending), and ‘revenue stream’ (tick – we are a not-for-profit organisation, however ROI does not have to be quantified to justify it – the judges were convinced by the self-evident nature of the personal and professional development of our members and fellow professionals).
Of course, it’s not the winning, but rather the taking part (or is it the other way around? – perhaps we ought to have a Mentimeter poll!) But it genuinely isn’t – this award demonstrates clearly what PMI UK is capable of (and remember that the webinar series is organised by volunteers on their days off!), what the Project Management Institute is capable of, and more important, what professional Project Management can achieve.