Thoughts on STC’s First Virtual Summit

Just about everything has been affected by COVID-19, and the STC 2020 Summit was no exception. A co-worker and I were scheduled to present on project management. She’s from Milwaukee, so we were looking forward to spending time together while visiting an awesome city like Seattle.

The uncertainty first started when Seattle became a COVID-19 epicenter. If the Summit went on as scheduled, would it be safe to fly there? Flights had been scheduled and hotels booked. Were we obligated to attend as presenters? Would they cancel the Summit? Would they move the Summit to a virtual event? If there is a virtual event, how would we present our session? How would you network?

Answers were soon coming, though. STC leadership stepped up and successfully moved the event online, and in a short amount of time (just two months). They had so much to do – reschedule events to accommodate most time zones, create a virtual expo hall, train presenters, schedule evening activities, provide orientation for attendees, coordinate the honors celebration, etc.

From my perspective, the event went on without a hitch. Moderators started every session and were on stand-by in case the presenter or attendees had issues. Sessions went smoothly and were kept to 45 minutes. During the breaks, you could go to virtual rooms to network. Moderators monitored those rooms and kept conversations going. A networking page showed every attendee’s picture and short bio. You could chat with them or have them meet you in one of the virtual rooms to talk.

One of the best parts of the Virtual Summit is that the sessions are available until August 31st. I’ve been able to attend sessions that I couldn’t attend because of session conflicts. You could potentially attend every session at the Summit. I’ve also returned to some of my favorite sessions.

There were even fun activities – TechComm story times, a relaxation and breathing exercise, a live concert with the Dill Pickers, and even a virtual escape room. After the Summit, the Ohio STC hosted a Slice of Summit with Drink Mixer where quite a few attendees (and those interested) talked and decompressed. It was a nice way to wrap up three intense days.

By Lisa Adair