An interview with Dearbhla Meaney
Event Website: www.mentalhealthandwellbeingsummit.com
Founder of White Diamond Events, Dearbhla Meaney has moved her Annual Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit Online this year and we asked her a little bit about her journey.
Making the decision to go Virtual
Dearbhla began by giving us a run down on the Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit which has been held in both the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park over the last five years. No decision in terms of hosting the event could be made until after June 29th in order to comply with the latest government restrictions and initially a hybrid event was intended. However, with health and safety difficulties, PPE costs and potential insurance liability if anyone was to contract the virus, it soon became apparent that hosting a hybrid event for the Summit would create many barriers. After much consideration, a decision was made to host a live online event with speakers, behind closed doors and broadcast live online to attendees.
Dearbhla described the main challenges she faced in terms of organising a virtual live event as costs and creating awareness. She proceeded to tell us how it was almost the same price to host a live virtual event as a physical event as costs were incurred for both the physical venue and online streaming platforms which were designed and built by Dearbhla and her team to ensure all technical needs were catered for. Ticket prices also had to be reduced which meant a drop in revenue, and a reduction in the advertising budget which has made creating event awareness very difficult. This has been a challenge as the need to highlight the Summit as a live online event is very important since many people may make presumptions that it is a webinar type event when they see the word “online” without sufficient advertising. Despite the challenges with creating such a large event online in a short space of time, Dearbhla feels it was worth it as with the constant changes and uncertainty of the virus planning a hybrid event for the summit would have been next to impossible and posed a health and safety risk.
Benefits and drawbacks of Virtual events
When asked about the benefits and drawbacks of virtual events, Dearbhla told us how she felt the audience capacity was a huge benefit for a virtual event as there was no longer the capacity limit online that physical venues have and audience members can view from anywhere online. There was also the scope for booking international speakers to participate as travel costs were no longer an issue being online. However, she considered the lack of interaction as a drawback since many events are great opportunities for attendees to network and build relationships, which cannot be done the same online.
The view of virtual events in future
Dearbhla informed us how companies running smaller events for their clients and staff are currently struggling with the hosting of online events as webinar fatigue has set in across the board, so people are looking for more interesting and engaging ideas. She has found a niche in the market for helping companies create engaging, online live events, particularly in the area of wellbeing as this is so important to everyone right now. From this she sees a future in hybrid events where both the benefits of physical and online events can be incorporated once it is safe again to hold events of reasonable sizes. The event would be held in a physical location and also broadcast whereby attendees have the option to attend in person or online. However, she feels it will probably be at least another year before any kind of normality will return to the events industry.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit delivers relevant and genuine information in a positive and upbeat manner covering a wide range of topics including youth mental health, suicide prevention and mental health in a pandemic. The event will consist of an exhibition area, keynote speaker sessions and workshops and speaker panels include top experts such as Deepak Chopra and Caroline Casey to personal stories from individuals. With the Summit now online, ticket-holders also have access to all content for up to 10 days after the event. You can find out more about attending or exhibiting at the event here.