2020 has been a year that we will remember for the rest of our lives.
Like everyone else, we didn’t have much choice in taking CMX Summit 2020 virtual. We had to adapt, grow, and think on our feet to create an event with great energy, while still making sure we could ultimately uplift the community industry. CMX Summit 2020 was our chance to provide an outlet for the industry to learn, grow, and reflect…and get some ideas for their own virtual events!
But amid all the ups and downs, CMX remained the strongest and most supportive community out there. We learned new skill sets both personally and professionally, how to stand up for what we believe in, and how to have tough conversations. Personally, I learned how to produce virtual events, and advocate for underrepresented voices—and my own. These are the real key takeaways from 2020.
Thanks to everyone who filled out the post-Summit survey. Just like last year, we’ve taken stock of all the CMX Summit feedback to identify what worked, what didn’t work, and where we can continue improving. How did we do? Read on to find out.
CMX Summit 2020: Our Biggest, Most Global Yet
Last year, CMX Summit grew from 400 people to over 1,000 community builders. This year, we took that to the next level with a whopping 5,500 RSVPs for CMX Summit 2020! Half of those were new to CMX, a testament to the industry’s incredible growth.
This year’s Summit was all-virtual — and free. This meant we were able to welcome even more CMX’ers from all over the world. Overall, we had 85 different countries represented at CMX Summit for a truly global experience.
The community industry has faced its fair share of change this year. CMX Summit 2020 focused on creating and adapting business models; on measuring and proving community impact; and the future of virtual events and the community industry. In a year marked by Black Lives Matter protests, we made sure to highlight the ways community leaders are addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
This was also the first CMX Summit hosted on our brand-new Bevy Virtual Conference platform, which meant we could easily work with our CMX Connect hosts and sign up new participants. We saw a 19% increase in CMX chapter leaders over the conference.
“I’ve been working in engagement and community-building for about five years, but attending CMX Summit 2020 was the first time I felt like I had a shared language about what I do and a community of people to whom I don’t have to explain why my role exists or why it’s important. Thanks to CMX for this community of practice!” CMX Summit 2020 attendee.
What You Loved
Our Speakers: There was lots of love for our speaker lineup. You especially noted the diversity on our stages. We really wanted to use CMX Summit to elevate a wide range of voices. This year, 43.5% of our speakers came from underrepresented groups—a new record for CMX Summit.
Feeling the Community Love: CMX is all about community, and the community that you all created in the chat, the audience, and the networking panels did not go unnoticed. We strive to create places and moments that you remember, and we hope this year did not disappoint.
Content Variety: 70+ talks meant there was truly something for everyone! 80% of our respondents found half or more of the presentations valuable. Many of you shouted out the short sessions — keeping them to 25 minutes helped you pack more into the day.
Catch up on the talks you missed with all the videos from CMX Summit 2020!
Virtual Networking: “More networking” was one of our biggest takeaways from 2019, and was one of our biggest challenges in switching to virtual! Fortunately, most of you felt like you were still able to make valuable connections — just 6% of our survey respondents were dissatisfied with the networking opportunities.
Photo Booth: This was a hit and drove some awesome engagement! We partnered with The Snapbar for a decked-out virtual photo booth with custom backgrounds, borders, stickers— the combinations we saw were endless! We also hosted our swag giveaway via the photo booth and it was so fun to see the results.
“Fun” Sessions: Lots of people shouted out the after-hours programming. We partnered with Circosphere to bring you acts including Lumos, the Happy Birds Show, Big Al’s Caricatures and more. Check out How CMX Planned our First All-Virtual Conference for more on our virtual programming.
What We Can Do Better
There was a lot of good feedback from CMX Summit 2020, but there were also a number of areas where we could improve—whether virtual or not. Here are the key areas we’ll work to improve in 2021:
1. More Accessibility for More Time Zones
For a truly global community like CMX, we need to make sure there are events that work for everyone. CMX Summit 2020 was particularly difficult for CMX’ers in EMEA and Asia, and we’re working to make sure we have event opportunities in those time zones next year.
Some of you also found it was difficult to carve out a work-free and distraction-free zone for a virtual conference. We hear you — for 2021, we’re looking to switch it up with more short events that offer flexibility and targeted learning.
2. Even Deeper Dives
While we took your 2019 feedback into account with more workshops and hands-on learning, this was a common request in feedback. As we line up our 2021 events, we’ll make sure to keep bringing you in-depth sessions and hands-on training.
The learning doesn’t stop at CMX Summit — we’ll be working throughout the year to bring you deep dives on the blog, in CMX research, and at CMX events. And there’s always more opportunity to go deeper in the CMX community spaces.
3. Build-Your-Own Agenda
Many of you wanted to be able to browse the agenda while in sessions, or build your own agenda—which Bevy’s product teams are working on! For our virtual events moving forward, we’ll also make sure we have a printable agenda so you can better plan your day.
4. Clearer Networking Guidelines
Even though the networking at Summit was overall popular, there’s always room for improvement, particularly when virtual. You wanted clearer ways to launch impromptu networking on a specific topic, and to know how many people were at each table before you joined.
5. Recordings, Recordings, Recordings
We understand that everyone wants recordings immediately. In our case, the post-event deliverables take time to edit, upload, organize, and send, and we appreciate everyone’s patience. We worked hard to get the recordings out to attendees as quickly as possible, and all recordings were published two weeks after Summit ended—the fastest we’ve ever gotten Summit videos out.
6. Variety in Speaker Titles
There was some feedback related to the balance between community practitioners and C-suite speakers. We’ll continue to make sure we are highlighting hands-on, on-the-ground examples—for Summit 2020, 67% of our total speakers were community practitioners.
At CMX, our goal is to grow and advocate for the community industry. Community leaders often need buy-in from higher-ups, and hosting speakers at this level creates an important bridge between community builders and the C-suite. We believe in including speakers at this level to continue raising the importance and the profile of the community industry.
7. Technical Difficulties
I would be remiss not to mention the technical difficulties we experienced for a short period on Tuesday morning. The community was so active in chat that it overwhelmed our chat vendor’s servers, which greatly affected the platform on Day One. The Bevy team moved swiftly to resolve the issue, and the rest of the event went off without a hitch.
‘Til next year!
Already thinking about CMX Summit 2021? Stay in the loop with the CMX Weekly!