Kassandra Marsh of Lakazdi: “Choose the platform based on what you level of interactivity you need”

Choose the platform based on what you level of interactivity you need. Remembering that people are at home and want to feel like they are gathering with other people. So you might opt for a platform with voice and video for everyone as well as break out rooms for activities. If your event is more […]

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Choose the platform based on what you level of interactivity you need. Remembering that people are at home and want to feel like they are gathering with other people. So you might opt for a platform with voice and video for everyone as well as break out rooms for activities. If your event is more of a webinar than only sharing your screen and having all other participants on mute with no video is more appropriate. In terms of ease, it makes sense to stick to platforms that are easy for your audience to use and that included downloading the software and requiring a log-in. Different things to think about.


As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kassandra Marsh.

Kassandra Marsh runs Lakazdi, a graphic design company that designs educational materials for experts passing on their knowledge. This includes items such as marketing materials to promote virtual events as well as the decks and workbooks themselves.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I always feel like I grew up at the very best time because we got to learn to play and computers and internet were invented when I was a bit older. This means I certainly know my way around the computer and they feel like they have always been around. But I really saw that whole social shift from nothing being virtual to so much of life being virtual. It always fascinates me. And because computers were around when I was a kid, I’ve needed to type and format assignments from a young age which I have continued to do professionally as an adult.

Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?

As I just mentioned, I have always been formatting documents. I remember a moment when I was 15 asking my school’s art teacher what was the job title for a person who makes booklets and workbooks. I took her a few I had collected. She did some sleuthing and returned explaining about graphic design. From there I completed university and started my own business making documents.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I know it won’t seem as funny to anybody who doesn’t know. But, when I first started, I remember making some handouts that fit four to a page. I did this by copying and pasting the same content four times. When my client wanted changes, I made the change four times. And then the client wanted another change, so I made that change four times. This happened (no kidding) six times. It was horribly inefficient. From there I learnt how to place files in Creative Cloud and then copy instances of that file. Meaning when you update the main file, it automatically replaces it everywhere. It is one of the many ways I have learnt to ‘automate’ what I do.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Creating on Purpose by Anodea Judith. I could probably write and entire essay on this book and its impact on my life! However, I really wanted to share the biggest impact from the book. As an activity, we were asked to write down the super-mega to-do list we have. The one that keeps us up at night. All the niggly thoughts. And then we went through and crossed out anything that we simply didn’t want to do anymore. The things that didn’t fit with our life as it is or what we want to be doing in our future. Crossing off outdated dreams. Feeling that relief of it no longer being on the to-do list. It was like breathing properly after being underwater for a long time. And then with the remainder of the list we were told to put a timer on the other things. Point the compass and see our future journey a bit more clearly.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I just love that one about doing what you love doing and you will never work a day in your life. I know that formatting documents is not what makes everyone happy. But it certainly makes me happy and I smile the whole time I do it.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing events in general?

Yes, I work with experts that are passing on their knowledge. Their workshops have been ever increasing become virtual over the last few years. I help them understand about the different options. And what they can do for the day to make sure everything runs smoothly. Help them with marketing before the event and a good process of what to do after the event. But my core skill is in making the decks and workbooks.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing live virtual events? Can you share any interesting stories about them?

No matter how much you plan and no matter how much you check and triple-check your tech, there is always a degree of uncertainty with life events. Especially when it is interactive. It is surprisingly like the theatre where “the show must go on.” The worst I have seen was the slides that were designed not working at all, only the video and audio feed worked. As a true professional, they worked from their notes that they had printed and they improvised a bit but they shared their content powerfully and more informally than rehearsed. In the end it worked well for them and the participants got a copy of the deck later anyway.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job creating live virtual events? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Museums and the Web. It is an annual conference that normally has people travel from all over the world. In 2021 they ran their conference entirely virtual. For three days, there was five sessions a day, with between one and four events running simultaneously. Emulating the structure where you can walk between rooms and see different workshops, demos, talks, key notes throughout the event. I liked that every single person had a different experience of the same event because of the ‘room’ they chose to be in at the time.

It was a big undertaking for Museums and the Web but a way you can bring some of this into your event is using breakout rooms. So that smaller groups can interact and then rejoin the bigger group. That close interaction is normally why people come to the events.

What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to run a live virtual event? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Not having a clear intention. Start with your why. Know who it is for (it makes marketing so much easier). Deliver on your promises. Which might mean a smaller event for less people but more effective for your audience and for your business goals.

Which virtual platform have you found to be most effective to be able to bring everyone together virtually?

I loved using Zoom before it was a household name. I like it because it is so easy to use and there is the ability to screenshare. Many people can join at once. And there is the option for break-out rooms. Also, it is just so much fun making virtual backgrounds!

Are there any essential tools or software that you think an event organizer needs to know about?

Not in particular. Just don’t forget to market your online event the same way you would a face-to-face event. That might mean doing an email blast-out or putting on websites that list online events.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. An in-person event can have a certain electric energy. How do you create an engaging and memorable event when everyone is separated and in their own homes? What are the “Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Picking the right timezone.

Think about where your larger audience is located and use something like WorldTimeBuddy to check the overlapping time zones. It is obvious to find a time where east and west coast US can both attend. Can you think broader, shift it by an hour or two and you can have most of Europe also attend. Or at a different type of day you can have Australia, New Zealand and Asia attend.

2. Choosing the platform that meets your needs.

Choose the platform based on what you level of interactivity you need. Remembering that people are at home and want to feel like they are gathering with other people. So you might opt for a platform with voice and video for everyone as well as break out rooms for activities. If your event is more of a webinar than only sharing your screen and having all other participants on mute with no video is more appropriate. In terms of ease, it makes sense to stick to platforms that are easy for your audience to use and that included downloading the software and requiring a log-in. Different things to think about.

3. Getting a professionally designed deck/visuals.

If the deck and visuals is the main thing the participants are going to be seeing, make them good. Don’t skimp here. If you know your design skills are not up to par, don’t jeopardise this opportunity by doing it yourself.

4. Pre-event marketing.

Find a good pre-event checklist and do the things. It might be the difference between an okay event an a well attended event with suitable hype. I’ll add also that there is some things you should do after the event too. For example: if your event did have slides, send them out to participants. Get feedback and testimonials. Treat your virtual event the same way you would a face-to-face event workshop.

5. On the day equipment check.

Check, double check and triple check your tech. Everything should be ready to go at least 15 minutes before you go live. If time allows, do a run through before the event. Use this practice run to iron out any kinks.

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a live virtual event that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Brainstorm what the experience will be like. Work out what that means translated into a virtual world and then find any tools or software that will help achieve this.

Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I am imagining a world where when a child is born their parents plant a tree. And as the child grows up, they get to see the tree growing up alongside them.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

At the moment, I have been enjoying the Cheddar YouTube videos that Ali Larkin @alarkin0 has been producing. They have a range of topics I find interesting, and I enjoy watching the way she shares information.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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