The last week in January 2021, about 1700 people attended the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) Annual Conference. I’m honoured to share that I was one of the 73 speakers featured during the conference.
When I attend a conference, I go forth with the intent of learning everything I can from the speakers, the tradeshow exhibitors, and from the people I interact with. I’m one of those people who attend 7 am sessions, and stay late to participate in the meet and greet events.
This year, was a little bit different, and not just because I was there as a speaker! For the first time HRPA held a fully virtual annual conference. Overall, it was a great experience, with 4 days packed with learning opportunities.
The one thing I really missed, was moving between the main hall, breakout session rooms and the tradeshow. Sitting at my laptop for several hours a day was not as much fun as the chance encounters that happen when I move among thousands of people with similar interests.
The virtual platform was robust, offering an easy to navigate agenda which we used to reach breakout session Zoom rooms, a virtual tradeshow with 3 floors, and an engagement hub, among other things! There were even morning yoga and cooking classes and live music during the lunch breaks.
I’m a Digital immigrant, learning how to effectively use the engagement hub took me two days! I quickly figured out how to send connections, that was easy. The chat function took me time to understand. I thought starting a chat meant you had to actually type something into the platform and then wait for a reply. Several people started chats with no text, which confused me quite a bit!
I was thrilled when a person reached out through the chat function to thank me for my session, saying they enjoyed reading the transcript. It took me a couple of more days, and an email to the help desk to figure out where the transcripts were! Because I think in words, and not images, I didn’t notice the icons sitting demurely under the “enter session here” button until the wonderful HRPA help desk team sent me an email with a screen shot and a written explanation pointing out where to find the transcripts. Thanks Tina!!!
While I learned a lot of interesting and exciting HR and Leadership concepts and practices, this post is about what I learned as a speaker. I learned that when I was recording the session, I looked at my notes way more than when I do a session for a live audience; even compared to doing a session online with a live audience. When I know there are people watching and listening, even if I can’t see them, I feel energized and do what I can to make eye contact. During the recording I moved my arms and head, used facial expressions and changes in my voice to emphasize different points and to convey emotion. However, my eyes spent the majority of the time glancing at my notes! This observation reminded me NOT to look at my notes while recording video! I followed up by practicing recording other content this week so I can do better moving forward.
From some of the other speakers, I learned how to ask engaging questions, to simulate speaking to a live audience. I saw the chat room blowing up with comments when speakers asked for their feedback. It was powerful!
I learned that it’s fun to answer questions live, while my video was running. I also observed how effective it was to have closed captioning for the keynote speakers, and wished that the transcripts provided for the breakout sessions had been added to these videos as closed captioning, something that is relatively easy to do when editing video. I’m glad that as I record sessions moving forward, I’ll be using Adobe Connect, which allows for adding the closed captioning as an option that viewers can turn off or on, to suit their needs.
I know I can learn what to do, or not to do, when I watch others deliver content. The closing keynote, Shawn Kanungo provided an example to aspire to. Shawn rented a theater in his home community and invited a small video and tech support crew, as well as an HRPA member to join him live. Shawn stalked the stage, used a white board, and tech, had the big screen behind him and two videographers filming him move around the main stage and another set. He was fabulous!
For now, I’ll keep working at learning how to share content from my home office, through my laptop and smartphone. I'm learning video techniques from Aaron and Angela, at Lot 48 Film Co.
I’m curious, what kind of content would you like me to share through video? Do you have questions you’d like me to answer in a blog or a video? If so please let me know!