What We Learned From Hosting an Inaugural Event During COVID-19: Lessons From MOMENTUM's Virtual Share Fair
Looking to promote meaningful knowledge exchange and collaboration among a diverse set of participants in a virtual environment? Read our reflections from MOMENTUM's first-ever Share Fair during COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. Project staff and stakeholders from across the globe can now convene virtually “in the same room”. But this new reality requires a unique way of planning and implementing to ensure gatherings remain valuable and achieve their goals.
In July 2021, the USAID-funded MOMENTUM project—a suite of six awards designed to improve maternal, newborn, and child health, voluntary family planning, and reproductive health (MNCH/FP/RH) services globally—held its first-ever virtual Share Fair.
The mini-conference, hosted via the Hopin platform, ran for two hours each morning from Monday to Wednesday over two weeks. The event featured 44, 25-minute sessions, where more than 300 participants from 36 countries and nearly 30 organizations shared data, insights, tools, and resources. The Share Fair also helped identify opportunities for coordination and collaboration and fostered a sense of connectedness among colleagues.
The following lessons learned from the event may be useful to other networks, projects, or groups aiming to promote meaningful knowledge exchange and collaboration among a diverse set of participants in a virtual environment:
3. Find creative ways to signify the event’s importance: We created visually compelling event branding for a range of promotional and resource materials, including our event flyer, agenda, and teaser video. The branding gave the event an exciting, polished feel and distinguished it from a generic meeting. We also recruited colleagues across the MOMENTUM awards and USAID, including senior leadership, to promote the event via email and other channels using pre-drafted messaging. Together, these approaches helped raise the event’s profile and signaled to staff