RISE is one of the three brands that make up Wilmington FRA, based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through online courses, onsite training and live events, RISE creates a space where information can be published, expertise shared and networking opportunities created.
Their flagship event is their annual conference RISE Nashville. Spanning over 4 days the conference attracts experts from across the US, with the 2019 event boasting over 1,400 attendees. Due to take place in March this year, the threat of COVID-19 meant the team had to re-think the entire conference.
Going back to the drawing board and re-shaping the event, they transformed the conference into an entirely virtual event, streaming it live across 2 days at the end of July.
The result: RISE National was born.
All workshops, presentations and key-note speeches were streamed online, meaning attendees could still access the insight and high-level content that RISE is famous for. Over two days the conference had 30 live sessions running in three concurrent tracks, with the engagement statistics reflecting the event’s resounding success: on average there were 175 attendee per session, a total of 3,637 chats and 414 questions posed by the audience to the speakers.
Using a state-of-the art virtual platform the event also provided a space for networking. Networking is an important part of any face-to-face event and something that is naturally going to suffer when there is no physical interactions. By introducing this platform attendees had an opportunity to chat with each other through private message and exchange contact details. The 43 sponsors and solution providers could also display their products in the virtual exhibit hall, where attendees could ask questions and share their contact details.
The overarching theme of RISE National 2020 was hope and perseverance, very appropriate given the circumstances. Three keynote speakers took to the virtual stage, all offering stories of courage and resilience. The first was Emmy Award winning journalist John Quiñones who spoke about the importance of social responsibility, especially at a time like this. John was followed by Jeff Henderson, star of Flip My Food with Chef Jeff and the author of “If You Can See It, You Can Be It”. Jeff used his speech to urge others to find hope and resilience in these challenging times: ‘No matter what we face in these trying times, we are a resilient country. We are a resilient people’.
Allison Massari, an executive coach and artist, rounded off the trio, sharing the gripping events of the treacherous automobile accident 22 years ago that left 50 percent of her body covered in second-and third-degree burns. Massari credits the compassion of her physical therapist, her nurses, doctors, family, and friends for her healing, a poignant reminder of the importance of kindness and support during uncertain times.
These three speeches were just one part of an amazing event. Back in March, when the threat of COVID-19 became a reality, no one could have imagined that an event on this scale could not only survive but thrive in a virtual world. The event retained all of its usual offerings such as networking and workshops, whilst also using the very threat of COVID-19 to inspire and bring hope to the community RISE serves.
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