Capturing learning from your events (yes, even online ones)

02.10.2021insights, Tips

capturing learning from your events

Today we’re relying more than ever on online events. And while that can be great news for reducing travel budgets and broader participation, it can also mean that we’re not focusing as much on the learning that these gatherings produce. A solid plan for capturing and sharing event learnings from the outset can help.

Even in the heyday of in-person events, capturing and sharing learnings often took a backseat to all the front-end planning. Let’s be honest, after all that time spent making sure the programs and name tags were just right, who had the energy to go through all the session recordings and synthesize the learnings? Never mind packaging it up and sharing it out widely.

However, I’d argue that the post-event record is one of the most IMPORTANT pieces, and even more so in these online event times. Yes, maybe not sexy, but important, nonetheless.

What makes a good event record?

An event record is NOT just a laundry list of who said what or a transcript of sessions (though those can be really helpful, too).

A good event record does three things:

  • It captures key learnings from the event sessions, synthesizing and contextualizing the most salient information to share both with participants (who could probably use the reminder) as well as those that couldn’t attend.
  • It keeps the attention on the content of the event long after it’s finished, allowing you to continue the conversation across multiple platforms
  • It lets you continue to capitalize on your time investment in the event, reminding people who brought everyone together and building your audience for future work.

Getting clear on your aims

It doesn’t have to be a fancy-pants designed doc, but that can help to lend it some weight and credibility (and make it more enticing for people to pick up and read). But it does take some forward planning to get it right, even if you’re keeping it simple design wise.

  • Get clear on what you’re hoping to get out of the event. Want to gather input on a new idea? Get experts to share insights and solutions to a common challenge? Co-create a program with your partners? Each one of these outcomes will require a different post-event strategy. This should be basic event planning 101 anyway but articulating these goals up front it will also help to guide how you pull together your post-event record.
  • Get clear on how you’re going to capture salient info during the event. Though you can always record sessions and get them transcribed to pull from later (not a bad thing to do anyways), it can be hugely time consuming to comb back through hours of video to sift out what’s important. Assigning someone to capture the highlights during the session can help tremendously to focus the write up later.
  • Get clear on dissemination plans. Think both quick impact as well as longer term when it comes to sharing the learning from the event. While a live-tweeted event can be useful in the moment, a more polished piece can be content that you can use in multiple ways post-event – sharing with donors, building on the learnings for subsequent events, building your library of thought leadership resources, etc.
  • Get clear on visuals. As Zoom events don’t provide us with quite the same photo ops (gotta love the grainy group Brady Bunch-style shots), we should instead think about models and diagrams we could create to illustrate key points or discussions. One graphic could fuel an entire conversation by prompting people to think about a point differently. Get creative (or rope someone in early on who can help you plan for this).

My challenge to you:

Don’t let your next event just be a one off. Spend some time thinking through your plan to capture and share learnings BEFORE the event, and you’ll get a ton more mileage out of it. 

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