Soirée de l'excellence en génie
Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ)
Number of participants
Number of live finalists
Number of graphic presentations
Number of rehearsing and script writing hours
Number of comments in the chat
Organization of the Engineering Excellence Evening, combining the 100th anniversary celebration and the annual awards presentation. The objectives: to bring to life a festive, human and innovative virtual event, free of charge for the 100th anniversary, that reaches a minimum of 350 engineers while keeping the OIQ brand alive and involving key stakeholders in the profession in the content of the event.
“Thank you to the Niché team for our Engineering Excellence 2020 Evening. The virtual event was brilliantly orchestrated and the result exceeded all our expectations. Our first virtual experience was a real success, greatly appreciated by our 1,500 participants.”
Kathy Baig, ing., FIC. MBA
— Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec's President
- Thanks to the virtual formula, nearly 1,500 people attended the evening, an increase in attendance of 428% compared to the in-person gala, which generally welcomes 350 participants.
- According to the post-event survey, 68% of respondents rated their overall assessment of the event as “beyond expectations.”
- 90% of respondents would like to attend the evening again if offered in a virtual format.
- 95% of respondents agreed that the balance between the awards ceremony, videos and musical performances was exactly right.
1. Rethinking the event concept for a virtual delivery
The evening was originally scheduled to take place in May 2020 with all the components of an in-person celebration. We therefore revisited the concept and proposed a customized virtual event, featuring a full-scale music and video production to foster strong emotional engagement reactions from participants.
2. Engaging participants by offering a bona fide socially distanced celebration
The festive atmosphere of virtual events starts with great hosts. We brought together two iconic personalities to provide participants with an outstanding hosting duo: Kathy Baig, President of the Order, and entertainer Gregory Charles, as the master of ceremony. Thanks to well-crafted staging and several rehearsals, the co-hosts’ chemistry shone on screen during the evening. Kathy Baig’s poise and notoriety among engineers blended wonderfully with Gregory Charles’s enthusiasm. Their authentic exchange allowed spectators to feel the excitement right in their living room.
But once the audience is entertained, how can we keep them engaged? This is our biggest challenge with virtual events. Distractions in every participant’s physical location can affect engagement. The key element to maximize engagement is interaction. No one celebrates by watching other people celebrate. You have to feel like you are taking part to the celebration; it should be a reciprocal exchange. That is why we chose a platform that allowed Gregory Charles to answer live questions and welcome special requests; that gave the audience the opportunity to shape the event. Participants could also chat together and share their impressions of the evening. Over 2,300 comments were posted, keeping the conversation going between the hosts and the audience throughout the evening.
We also made sure to optimize interaction during the awards ceremony. We broadcasted the nominees from of all categories live on screen to interact with Kathy Baig, which was a great achievement! The unveiling of the winners and their genuine reactions generated a lot of emotion; the element of surprise was powerful. The Coup de cœur du public (Audience Favorite) Award, a Niché team’s concept developed specifically for the event, allowed participants to vote in real time to select a finalist for the evening. Voting also entered participants in a raffle. Live reactions and participation rewards allowed us to keep 800 people engaged until the very end of the gala, and even beyond. Dozens of congratulatory messages followed in the chat section several minutes after Gregory Charles’ last performance.
3. Transpose sponsorship opportunities to virtual spaces with equivalent visibility
Virtual sponsorships are not only possible, but they can also be effective! Our sponsors benefited from visibility in the event lobby, on a scrolling banner displayed at key moments, in the credits, and with integrated videos during the evening.
Our concept allowed partners to sponsor specific moments of the evening, such as the Relève segment, the 100th anniversary segment and the presentation of the Coup de cœur Award. Similar to product placement in a movie, displaying logos on various visuals ensures visibility of sponsors by actively watching attendees.
“Thank you to the Order of Engineers of Quebec! Your virtual evening allowed us to showcase our brand to the engineering community in an exceptional way.” – National Bank’s Professional and Student Partnerships Department
4. Convey key messages in a dynamic and engaging manner during a 75-minute gala
In order not to exceed the allotted time, it was necessary to create a balance between the numerous videos, the key messages to convey and the musical performances. Our team therefore joined forces with the OIQ’s to fully script the event, which was rehearsed several times ahead of the actual event. Niché also transformed the OIQ’s office space into a studio to allow Kathy Baig, event co-host and president of the Order, to read her texts in an environment as similar as possible to that of the event.
We wanted to highlight Quebec’s engineering contribution to the world in a meaningful way. We therefore recorded 16 videos featuring outstanding and well-known personalities speaking about engineering feats. Astronaut David St-Jacques, Prime Minister François Legault, Minister of Higher Education Danielle MacCann, and Engineer Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire were all delighted to come together to celebrate the engineering body of work. The audience enjoyed watching these vibrant testimonials; their reactions were vibrant with emotion!
The evening gave participants many more meaningful moments. In the post-event survey, participants responded having particularly appreciated the OIQ’s 100th anniversary video recap, the funny skit featuring the next engineering generation and the impressive birthday wishes addressed to the Order from members and key players in the community. Combined with musical performances, these moments of great visual quality created the festive atmosphere we imagined for this virtual evening.
5. Managing COVID-19 in the studio
In order to fully comply with current health requirements, the Niché team took several measures, such as limiting the number of people in the studio. We have also set out the control room and team over two floors to create more space for everyone. This measure came with its share of challenges, such as communicating with speakers on stage. With the support of the technical team, we set up an effective communication system requiring multiple computers and microphones. Of course, the backstage team wore masks at all times and sanitized all surfaces. These measures allowed us to have a safe and enjoyable event for everyone.
- For this kind of events, it is essential to plan out the event from start to finish and to have a detailed script!
- You cannot have too many rehearsals. The more the hosts rehearse, the smoother the delivery and flow will get, and they will be more relaxed.
- If these rehearsals take place outside the recording studio, it is essential to plan rehearsals in a space that reflects the studio, so that hosts and other speakers will not feel unsettled on set.
- Teaming up with a broadcasting team that is experienced in live event is a real asset.
- Plan the event time wisely as participants must fit their viewing into their daily schedule.
“Carrying out a virtual event requires the same energy and generates as much work as a face-to-face event. However, our efforts and creativity are required in other aspects of the organization. The emphasis is on the quality of the content, which must be engaging, without forgetting the importance of the graphic pieces, which are essential to bring everything to life and keep participants engaged.” – Maude-Laurence Champigny, Senior Consultant