Upstream Festival: How to Host an Engaging Online Workshop

Upstream Festival is a digital festival & networking platform co-created by College Life Work and hosted by UP!Rotterdam. As a co-creator, College Life Work was responsible for planning the agenda tailored for young students and graduates in the Netherlands. The brand hosted an online workshop titled “Growth Hack Work” to inform students and graduates on the subject matter.

The Objective of the Online Workshop

College Life Work aimed to host a high-intensity 90-minute online workshop with one mission: teach a process that leverages and scales the target audience’s networking, allowing them to unlock new employment opportunities.

The Online Challenge

The main challenge was engaging the audience. While digital events may be simple to host, they are extremely difficult to engage with. The team wanted to grab and maintain the audience’s attention throughout the online workshop. And since our audience consists of primarily millennials and gen z, managing the 8-second short attention span is always a challenge.

The Solutions

Once the team identified the biggest challenge, they in turn, identified the most effective solutions. A few key solutions are described below:

  • Fast pace. The workshop had a faster pace than usual ones. This method aligned with the short attention span of the participants.
  • Audience interaction. The host of the online workshop continuously asked the audience to answer questions and interact using the chat tool. At the end of the workshop, the target audience was encouraged to ask questions using their microphone.
  • Relevant context.  The online workshop had a relevant context, and was tailored to the world we were in (i.e. the pandemic).

founder of College Life as the presenter of the online workshop

The Workshop Process

To plan this campaign the team needed to focus on three main factors that would determine how engaging the online workshop would be with the target audience.   The plan consisted of the following:

  • Understanding the target audience. College Life’s team had to identify who the target audience is and make the right adjustments that would satisfy their attention.
  • Define their needs. Once they knew who our target audience was, the team needed to effectively describe what they could learn from the online workshop that would be deemed useful to them.
  • Tailoring the online workshop to the current situation in the world. In order for the workshop to be relevant, the team needed to adjust it to the current world events and circumstances.

The execution of the campaign consisted of two things:

  • Hosting the workshop online
  • Providing a resource kit to follow up with what was taught

The Impact of the Online Workshop

College Life asked the attendees to talk about about their experience with the online workshop, and the response was unanimous:

“With your insights, you have given me a clearer picture of how to measure and monitor my success and set goals for myself. ”  — Hannah Hercher

“The whole workshop was very insightful, but for me, the part of starting the conversation with the company was the most interesting, as it is always difficult and, honestly, forgettable in reality. ” — Dasha, Student at Erasmus University

“Yesterday's workshop was definitely the absolute best career workshop I’ve attended aaand I’ve been to a lot of them (mainly for CV, motivation letters and interviews). This is what I have been looking for a long time: real life hacks, examples, and a good transfer of knowledge. ”  — Katarina, student at Vrije Universiteit

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Bierens group as the winner for best employer branding filmA meeting of UP!Rotterdam members