Connecting Global Teams

Connecting Global Teams

the blog

Connecting Global Teams

Thoughts on connecting global teams

Thoughts on connecting global teams

image blog


Connecting Global Teams

Louise Grieg is sharing her thoughts on connecting global teams through pandemic times.

Change is a great accelerator for innovation and learning and Louise has been at the centre of this process for Activate over the past 18 months.

Louise Grieg is sharing her thoughts on connecting global teams through pandemic times.

Change is a great accelerator for innovation and learning and Louise has been at the centre of this process for Activate over the past 18 months.

We’ve had to learn fast in the last 18 months. Which ‘new ways’ will stay with you post pandemic?

In a world where virtual events are by-gone words of the pandemic, the one most meaningful thing that’s come up is actually the fact that we get to see our clients quite often. Where in the past, particularly with clients from global locations, we would be limited to having a conference call on a spider phone and you would only meet face-to-face on site, these days we do get to see our clients working via video calls. This really has helped build a strong connection between us.

I always have my camera on when in meetings as it really stimulates conversation. We’ve started to change this culture and not just internally where we always have the camera on but we’ve also seen the impact we had on the culture of our clients who in the beginning would use all calls with the camera off but now they’ve seen how much warmer the connection is how much more engaging the dialogue is when the camera is on, and now are changing their culture and started to adopt a non-negotiable rule whereby for all their events speakers must have the camera on.

Facial interaction and eye contact has really made a huge difference to our client relationships. By always having video calls with the camera on when working with our international client base we are effectively letting each other into each other’s homes.  Video, particularly in the ‘working from home’ world has broken the ‘suited and booted’ status down; previously you were always expected in the business world to turn up well-dressed to a meeting and to put a great effort in your appearance. As much as this was a sign of professionalism and courtesy, this led to a certain rigidity and formality of the dialogue, but we are now changing this. Video is part of this honest ‘home-to-home’ interaction and it’s broken down barriers. To me this I think this really is one of the greatest positives of the past 18 months.

Flexibility is also part of our value proposition in the events world, and we can deliver this more comfortably than ever before. A virtual event might have started at 5 pm GMT and go well into the early morning hours for us but with working from home we can schedule our hours, energy and team to suit our clients’ needs whatever time zone they need us to operate in.

One of the key advantages when working with our US clients for instance is the fact that that we effectively have more hours in the day and by the time they go back online we would have sometimes done the work that they’ve briefed at the start of their day and this is this is of huge value to keeping up the momentum of a project. When I run US events clients can call me at 8 or 9 pm GMT and this this is no longer a problem when working from home.

Fundamentally, in the world of events we’ve never been a 9-5 industry, and we’ve never been a 9-to-5 agency, but due to project deadlines and due to client time zones the only criteria of success is that clients are being serviced. Clock-watching is absolutely not part of this equation!

 

Give us a couple of examples from your event work which show ‘the Activate way’ in practice?

At Activate one main point of difference is that we are not a call centre! I can’t stress this enough – we don’t adopt the approach of an account management team and a separate project management team whereby one client is firstly and introduced to the business by the account manager but ultimately, they end up being serviced operationally by a different team. This is not something that happens in the Activate world.

The way we service accounts is by offering one point of contact, one Activater throughout the whole journey. Our clients go on to work with that one person from beginning to end. We are also building this body of knowledge for each account and each project and we carry that onto the next project.

 

In your experience what are the common concerns clients have when briefing in a hybrid or virtual event? How do these differ from ‘live event’ briefs?

One of the most challenging aspects of virtual events, especially when servicing a truly international audience is ‘how do you actually allow a virtual client to feel part of the event?’

‘Is the global audience expected to join out of hours?’ For instance, in the case of a European event do you expect Latin America and Asia Pacific to be to be awake and contributing in a live setting or are you expecting them to consume this event in a in a passive way via a recording available on demand? In my opinion it is very important to think of the person at the end of the computer. ‘Death by PowerPoint’ was very much a reality and genuine concern for all live event planners. Now we seem to be dealing with ‘Death by Virtual’, however the emphasis on the drain and drag of attending events virtually for prolonged periods of time seems to be less discussed and less mitigated.

So how do you manage the Q&A and how do you manage the ‘drinking at the bar’ afterwards, how do you manage the networking in a virtual event? How are you doing is in doing this in a way that is inclusive for all the global attendees? Are we sufficiently sympathetic towards those attendees who do join out of hours? Or are these attendees penalised due to their geography? How do we get these attendees involved?

Talking about the complexities of live events versus virtual events … it is very different organising a live event for 400 people as opposed to organising an event for 400 people virtually. There’s much more complexity in the live world than in the virtual space – where the #1 emphasis is on the technical delivery of the event. Unless you are Activate and we deploy the Activate Virtual Events Platform.

 

What is the latest Activate product innovation and why do you think clients should consider it?

With the Activate Events Virtual Event Platform we believe our offering is different and it takes you outside the proposition of of-the-shelf solutions such as Google meet or Teams or Zoom. We are effectively talking about a virtual event that is so much more than an event we are offering clients a virtual communication platform which is very much designed to facilitate interaction but also achievement of strategic objectives.

This is where the true excellence that Activate can bring is most evident. We are developing a communication platform that serves you for years to come potentially.  We’re helping the internet come alive, we are helping people be present in the current landscape. We are also support to for employees in the mental health space, we are introducing well-being zones, we are introducing a leader board for employees to check out their gaming progress… all of this is happening and is enabled by the Activate Virtual Event Platform and this is for us the best way to leverage the opportunities presented to us by virtual events, as a way of connecting global teams, energising global teams and engaging global teams.

 

What your main motivation for attending IMEX USA?

Talking about IMEX, I am keen to reconnect with thought leaders in the industry. I am also keen to rebuild my presence in the industry after years of involvement with MPI and after becoming a mum. We work with US RFPs and it’s important for us to build the supply networks, the partnerships, particularly with individual properties and with audio-visual partners as using local experts makes complete sense.

I am also mostly looking forward to being inspired by people. I’ve filled my schedule with supplier appointments but also with educational opportunities. I am keen to learn, I am keen to see what’s new and I want to hear the fresh thinking. Incidentally, I also want to meet up with my UK mentor whom I’ve only interacted with virtually so far. I also look for mentorship opportunities within the industry. I want to connect with individuals who are at the similar stage in me in their careers, broaden my perspective and find new ways of thinking and new avenues for professional development for me and for my team in the UK.

______________________________________________________________________________

To keep up to date with our people, places and event stories, follow Activate Events on Linkedin and #ActivateEvents.

You can also click to see a demo of our Virtual Event Solutions.

We’ve had to learn fast in the last 18 months. Which ‘new ways’ will stay with you post pandemic?

In a world where virtual events are by-gone words of the pandemic, the one most meaningful thing that’s come up is actually the fact that we get to see our clients quite often. Where in the past, particularly with clients from global locations, we would be limited to having a conference call on a spider phone and you would only meet face-to-face on site, these days we do get to see our clients working via video calls. This really has helped build a strong connection between us.

I always have my camera on when in meetings as it really stimulates conversation. We’ve started to change this culture and not just internally where we always have the camera on but we’ve also seen the impact we had on the culture of our clients who in the beginning would use all calls with the camera off but now they’ve seen how much warmer the connection is how much more engaging the dialogue is when the camera is on, and now are changing their culture and started to adopt a non-negotiable rule whereby for all their events speakers must have the camera on.

Facial interaction and eye contact has really made a huge difference to our client relationships. By always having video calls with the camera on when working with our international client base we are effectively letting each other into each other’s homes.  Video, particularly in the ‘working from home’ world has broken the ‘suited and booted’ status down; previously you were always expected in the business world to turn up well-dressed to a meeting and to put a great effort in your appearance. As much as this was a sign of professionalism and courtesy, this led to a certain rigidity and formality of the dialogue, but we are now changing this. Video is part of this honest ‘home-to-home’ interaction and it’s broken down barriers. To me this I think this really is one of the greatest positives of the past 18 months.

Flexibility is also part of our value proposition in the events world, and we can deliver this more comfortably than ever before. A virtual event might have started at 5 pm GMT and go well into the early morning hours for us but with working from home we can schedule our hours, energy and team to suit our clients’ needs whatever time zone they need us to operate in.

One of the key advantages when working with our US clients for instance is the fact that that we effectively have more hours in the day and by the time they go back online we would have sometimes done the work that they’ve briefed at the start of their day and this is this is of huge value to keeping up the momentum of a project. When I run US events clients can call me at 8 or 9 pm GMT and this this is no longer a problem when working from home.

Fundamentally, in the world of events we’ve never been a 9-5 industry, and we’ve never been a 9-to-5 agency, but due to project deadlines and due to client time zones the only criteria of success is that clients are being serviced. Clock-watching is absolutely not part of this equation!

 

Give us a couple of examples from your event work which show ‘the Activate way’ in practice?

At Activate one main point of difference is that we are not a call centre! I can’t stress this enough – we don’t adopt the approach of an account management team and a separate project management team whereby one client is firstly and introduced to the business by the account manager but ultimately, they end up being serviced operationally by a different team. This is not something that happens in the Activate world.

The way we service accounts is by offering one point of contact, one Activater throughout the whole journey. Our clients go on to work with that one person from beginning to end. We are also building this body of knowledge for each account and each project and we carry that onto the next project.

 

In your experience what are the common concerns clients have when briefing in a hybrid or virtual event? How do these differ from ‘live event’ briefs?

One of the most challenging aspects of virtual events, especially when servicing a truly international audience is ‘how do you actually allow a virtual client to feel part of the event?’

‘Is the global audience expected to join out of hours?’ For instance, in the case of a European event do you expect Latin America and Asia Pacific to be to be awake and contributing in a live setting or are you expecting them to consume this event in a in a passive way via a recording available on demand? In my opinion it is very important to think of the person at the end of the computer. ‘Death by PowerPoint’ was very much a reality and genuine concern for all live event planners. Now we seem to be dealing with ‘Death by Virtual’, however the emphasis on the drain and drag of attending events virtually for prolonged periods of time seems to be less discussed and less mitigated.

So how do you manage the Q&A and how do you manage the ‘drinking at the bar’ afterwards, how do you manage the networking in a virtual event? How are you doing is in doing this in a way that is inclusive for all the global attendees? Are we sufficiently sympathetic towards those attendees who do join out of hours? Or are these attendees penalised due to their geography? How do we get these attendees involved?

Talking about the complexities of live events versus virtual events … it is very different organising a live event for 400 people as opposed to organising an event for 400 people virtually. There’s much more complexity in the live world than in the virtual space – where the #1 emphasis is on the technical delivery of the event. Unless you are Activate and we deploy the Activate Virtual Events Platform.

 

What is the latest Activate product innovation and why do you think clients should consider it?

With the Activate Events Virtual Event Platform we believe our offering is different and it takes you outside the proposition of of-the-shelf solutions such as Google meet or Teams or Zoom. We are effectively talking about a virtual event that is so much more than an event we are offering clients a virtual communication platform which is very much designed to facilitate interaction but also achievement of strategic objectives.

This is where the true excellence that Activate can bring is most evident. We are developing a communication platform that serves you for years to come potentially.  We’re helping the internet come alive, we are helping people be present in the current landscape. We are also support to for employees in the mental health space, we are introducing well-being zones, we are introducing a leader board for employees to check out their gaming progress… all of this is happening and is enabled by the Activate Virtual Event Platform and this is for us the best way to leverage the opportunities presented to us by virtual events, as a way of connecting global teams, energising global teams and engaging global teams.

 

What your main motivation for attending IMEX USA?

Talking about IMEX, I am keen to reconnect with thought leaders in the industry. I am also keen to rebuild my presence in the industry after years of involvement with MPI and after becoming a mum. We work with US RFPs and it’s important for us to build the supply networks, the partnerships, particularly with individual properties and with audio-visual partners as using local experts makes complete sense.

I am also mostly looking forward to being inspired by people. I’ve filled my schedule with supplier appointments but also with educational opportunities. I am keen to learn, I am keen to see what’s new and I want to hear the fresh thinking. Incidentally, I also want to meet up with my UK mentor whom I’ve only interacted with virtually so far. I also look for mentorship opportunities within the industry. I want to connect with individuals who are at the similar stage in me in their careers, broaden my perspective and find new ways of thinking and new avenues for professional development for me and for my team in the UK.

______________________________________________________________________________

To keep up to date with our people, places and event stories, follow Activate Events on Linkedin and #ActivateEvents.

You can also click to see a demo of our Virtual Event Solutions.

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