Solar Show 2021 Event Recap

Screenshot from the opening day of Solar Show 2021, featuring Heather MacKenzie, George Kourounis, Sara Hastings-Simon, and Chris Nelder.

The Solar Show brings all types of people together, from the solar-curious to the solar industry professionals. 

Hosted by Solar Alberta, this four-day virtual conference offered all types of content and covered a wide variety of topics, advancing the awareness and understanding of energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies, alternative forms of transportation, and Alberta’s role in the energy transition. Presenters ranged from skilled instructors, community partners, professional speakers, and businesses to provide leading-edge education for Albertans (and across the world).

The event was mostly free, with five paid session options for more in-depth learning on solar industry matters. Over 600 tickets were sold to attend this complete virtual event, which was held on the PheedLoop platform.

The Virtual Event Platform: PheedLoop

Attendees received their login information two days prior to the event and were encouraged to log in to the platform, get familiar with the features of it, add sessions to their personal schedule, and add information to their profiles.

When logging into PheedLoop, attendees saw several features:

  • Lobby: The PheedLoop lobby welcomed visitors with a branded graphic and several announcements – welcoming people to the platform, providing tips and tricks for how to add sessions to your personal schedule, a reminder about exhibitor booths, and information on the 50/50 raffle. Throughout the event, more announcements were adding on how attendees can access the slide decks and recordings of the sessions after the event, as well as tips and tricks for viewing sessions optimally.
  • Sessions: A list of upcoming sessions, times, descriptions, speakers, etc. Opportunity to add sessions to a personal schedule.
  • Exhibit Hall: 15 exhibitor booths – available for viewing throughout the entire conference, live and staffed on Saturday all day. Attendees and exhibitors have the option of ‘Join Live’. Exhibitors have full control over look and feel of booth, information they want to share, etc.
  • Networking: Where attendees can view a list of attendees and connect in private chat. There were also five networking groups created, so attendees can join a video chat based on the topics/themes they are most interested in.
  • Account: Where information can be added – based on what attendees want to share.
  • Help: Takes you to PheedLoop’s knowledge base
  • Language Options: Select the language you want the content to show up in.
  • Accessibility Adjustment Options: Including options for a visually impared profile that enhances the website’s visuals and an ADHD friendly profile which allows for more focus and fewer distractions; colour adjustments and font adjustments, etc.
  • Notifications: Where push announcements and private chat notifications were stored.
  • Private Chats: Where text and video chats occur between attendees.

The Solar Show had several sponsors, which were highlighted throughout many different areas of the platform, including the lobby banner image, a constantly rotating scroll of logos on the website skin and within the live stream video. 

The Event

The event kicked off with an evening Fireside Chat between the three keynote speakers. Attendees ‘sat around the virtual fire’ and got to know the speakers better, finding out what drives their passion for climate action, what big issues or topics they watch for and follow closely in the news, and ask them questions. 

The next day of the event was a full day of presentations, including both paid and free sessions. Some of the highlights were a Lunch & Learn hosted by one of the event sponsors, a paid session on a pathway to net zero, and a free evening session on energy savings. 

During the third day of the Solar Show, attendees had the opportunity to take part in more free and paid sessions, including a free live recording of an Energy vs. Climate podcast episode, a paid session on the top 10 concerns of inspectors, and a free evening story hour with four individuals retraining in renewables. 

The final day of the event was a completely free ‘main stage’ day, which featured presentations from the keynote presenters and live (staffed) exhibitor booths. The day kicked off with a welcome address from several dignitaries, including a land acknowledgement from elder Betty Kehtaya. Attendees then took part in a keynote presentation from George Kourounis, a Lunch & Learn session from one of the event sponsors, and then two more keynote presentations by Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon and Chris Nelder. 

All sessions included an opening from the event emcee and a 15-minute Q&A portion, where attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and upvote other attendee’s questions. The event ended with closing remarks and a little bit more time for attendees to check out and interact with the exhibitor booths in the exhibit hall. 

The Nuts & Bolts

This event was our largest virtual event to date and the first where most of the organizing team/staff and ALL of the presenters took part remotely. We only had one staff onsite at the AV company, so we had to utilize a lot of good communication and a solid staffing plan to determine who would be responsible for what throughout the four days. 

Because all of the speakers took part remotely, our planning process included lots of communication, training and troubleshooting. Speakers were expected to arrive in a green room 30 minutes prior to their session, where they were welcomed by a virtual stage manager. We were sure to have everyone’s presentations for back-up purposes and phone numbers, in case any issues arose. 

One of the most important onsite staffing responsibilities included attendee support. We were sure to post messages in the chat boxes letting attendees know where to go when and who to reach out to for technical support, helping them feel comfortable and supported throughout the event. 

We also offered exhibitor support, private messaging with exhibitors, sending them tips and tricks, and offering support throughout the live exhibitor booth day. 

The Result

With over 600 attendees, they were thrilled with the opportunity to connect to learn and engage with other like-minded people on a topic they’re passionate about.

More information about the event can be found on Solar Alberta’s website, here.

– Your Tycoon, Kirsten XO