Changemakers: 26 Live Speakers in 1 Program

ArchiteX Implements Multi-Team Workflow for Seamless Uninterrupted Programming at Watermark Conference for Women

Summary

Changemakers: A Watermark Conference for Women is an annual conference which strives to bring together powerful and inspirational women who have challenged the status quo, followed their dreams, and disrupted norms in extraordinary ways. Facing the challenge of convening such a group of people during the Covid-19 Pandemic, ArchiteX designed and implemented a technical workflow to enable an uninterrupted eight hour program. With a total of 26 live speakers across 17 segments, we leveraged a variety of communications protocols across two broadcast teams to ensure a seamless event flow for both speakers and attendees. At the end of the event, they had this to say about the experience:

"They [ArchiteX] were super! Attentive, creative, knowledgeable, responsive, and accomplished. A great addition to our team. We will partner with them again 100%!"

Background

Watermark is a community of ambitious women focused on connecting, learning, and leading with empathy. They host an annual large format conference in addition to a number of workshops and smaller events. ArchiteX partnered with Kennett Productions to deliver a digital first experience focused on replicating the live event experience for both speakers and attendees.


Event Design

In pre-production, the ArchiteX team worked closely with all relevant parties to design a run of show that would replicate the live event experience as closely as possible. In the end we decided to utilize a simulated live emcee with live keynotes and panel discussions. We broke up these live segments with pre-produced motion graphics and pre-recorded content.

In order to keep the programming on one hosted destination, we decided to utilize two standalone broadcast teams each sending to a third switcher, which would switch between the two broadcast teams over the course of the show. For example, while broadcast Team A was on-air, Team B could onboard their next segment of speakers and run any necessary technical checks. To accomplish this each broadcast team sent their program output to the primary switcher via SRT feed for a highly stable, low latency connection.


Facing the challenge of producing two uninterrupted sessions over the course of the day, we also faced the challenge of how to prepare and onboard speakers while the program was running. In advance of the event day, we endeavored to set up technical checks with as many speakers as possible to ensure that they had a stable internet connection and were able to connect to our video switcher. On the day of the show, we established a workflow intended to preserve the feel of a traditional live event experience.


While broadcast Team A was on-air, Team B could onboard their next segment of speakers and run any necessary technical checks.

All speakers were provided the same link to a Zoom green room. This room had a specific breakout room for each broadcast team, as well as additional breakout rooms for any specific conversation that needed to be had around the broadcast. Each speaker was welcomed in the green room by the chief producers of the event and executives from Watermark before being directed to their broadcast team's specific breakout room. Once in that room, they would be greeted by their broadcast specific digital stage manager who would brief them on connecting to the video switcher and provide them with their individualized link to connect. Once connected, each speaker was routed to communication back-channel until just before their time to go on-air, at which point the stage manager would give them any last minute instruction and a countdown, and then they would be routed to the main output. Once each speaker had completed their segment, they would be moved back to the back-channel, where they would be informed by the stage manager about how to disconnect and be thanked for their participation.


We found that this workflow was able to preserve some of the unscripted, natural networking and interaction that happens at in-person events and can frequently be lacking in digital-first events. The Zoom green room provided an isolated back-channel for organization stakeholders to engage with speakers and do any pre-show networking, as well as a place for any programmatic decisions to be made, separate from the technical broadcast teams' comms.

Challenges and Solutions

  • Maintain a seamless Morning and Afternoon broadcast, while preserving the ability of broadcast teams to take necessary breaks and onboard talent

  • Operate two broadcast teams, and design moments where a switch could be made between each team via a third video switcher.

  • Preserve the natural feel of an in person green room and allow for natural backstage moments, while still ensuring that all speakers were comfortable with the technical workflow of the program.

  • Develop a rigorous multi step workflow to make each speaker comfortable with our technology and provide opportunities to engage with other speakers and host organization members

  • Provide an consistent Emcee throughout the program, while being unable to set up any temporary studio space due to Covid-19 restrictions

  • Script and pre-record all emcee introductions and segments, to provide a simulated live experience for content that would not change up to the day of the show, while allowing key speakers to have natural, live, interactions

Results

We found that this workflow was able to preserve some of the unscripted, natural networking and interaction that happens at in-person events and can frequently be lacking in digital-first events.

The Watermark Conference for Women was highly successful. Speakers reported feeling very comfortable with the technical workflow and appreciative of the ability to have conversations with their co-panelists. We were able to bring in a total of 26 live speakers over the course of 8 hours of programming and deliver a seamless experience for at home attendees.



For more information about Watermark, see https://www.wearewatermark.org/