Strategy | Platform | Training | Support
Like everyone, the Young Democratic Socialists of America was caught off guard by a global pandemic in March 2020. YDSA is the youth and student affiliate of the 70K-member Democratic Socialists of America, the country’s largest socialist group. The ball was rolling on their annual convention, and all signs told them to pull the plug. Would three weeks be enough to address the many unique requirements related to attendee permissions, moderation, on-the-fly schedule changes, private sessions, and more? YDSA had relied on its in-person convention to support its culture of trust and relationship-building. What would a Virtual YDSA Convention 2020 look like?
We helped bring Virtual YDSA Convention 2020 to life in three short weeks. Timeline aside, a convention of this magnitude required nuanced technical needs. We configured an event with moderated sessions that allowed delegates to appear on camera, in dynamic ordering, and for specified time intervals. We provided attendees with direction on where to learn more about pertinent initiatives tabled during the speaker sessions, and how to cast votes in mid-session. Interactive functionalities included attendee multimedia chat rooms, both one-on-one and in groups. YDSA was able to feature its three keynote talks and host evening “socials” that kept everyone inspired and feeling connected.
The successes of YDSA’s first-ever virtual annual conference caught them off guard: over 150 attendees and a 97% attendance rate. Like the days of in-person, conference delegates were empowered to advance their initiatives and be heard equally. We helped YDSA fulfill the promises of democratic decision-making upheld by past, in-person conventions. YDSA is now emboldened to take its 2021 convention virtual as well, stating, “we feel an online convention may also remove some of the accessibility barriers we’ve faced in past conventions, allowing for a convention more representative of our organization.”
YDSA’s organizers expressed their appreciation with how much we were able to pull off for them in such a short (three week) period of time. We were able to navigate their complex needs successfully on our platforms, with only a couple of simple feature requests that we’re working on for their next convention.
02Tech & Moderation Strategy
We did multiple trainings for their delegates, confirming their audio/visual was working properly and teaching 150 of their attendees how to request to get on camera in order to speak when it was their time and how to navigate getting off camera and resetting the software so they could re-enter cue at the appropriate time.
We worked with their chair and Presidium to establish a clear plan for the days of the event. The Chair was able to be on screen and invite the next delegate to speak into the session, time their 2 minute talk, and then advance to the next in cue. We conducted multiple trainings with speakers between mainstage and breakout sessions.
Security measures ensured that only legitimately-registered attendees were present and that disruptors were muted.
We answered attendee questions in a Help Desk Expo booth that allowed them to test their AV before going live. We helped 150 delegates prepare for livestream scenarios and successfully navigate the event platform.
Led personal training sessions for elected officials to become familiarized with the platform and the plan for their interview or panel on the main Stage.
“What we did this weekend was unprecedented. We’ve never before done an online convention like this. And in order for it to run as smoothly as it did, a ton of people put in just a ton of work. So I’m going to acknowledge some of those people right now. First I want to thank Michelle and Daniel from We & Goliath who set us up with this wonderful platform. They did so much so quickly, and I think this was a really great venue for our first virtual convention.“
We managed and produced three mainstage keynote presentations with live speakers, host introductions, and audience Q&A.
Nina Turner’s keynote address got everyone excited and ramped up for the event. It was simultaneously live streamed to social media and within the conference platform. As you can see below, the delegates and attendees were so excited to hear her speak and the chat was on fire!
We created this custom graphic/slideshow to help train users on the features and navigation of the event platform.
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