Vision Expo and The Vision Council Keep the Vision Community Informed and Inspired Through a Powerful and Far-Reaching Virtual Engagement Series –Tarrence Lackran
The importance of staying connected as a vision community has been reinforced again and again throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Soon after the difficult but necessary decision was made to cancel Vision Expo East 2020, I thought to myself, “How are we going to bring the industry together without a show?”
I spent about two weeks after the announcement moping, and then one day I had an epiphany—I was not going to allow physical distance to keep the community apart. From there, the Vision Expo and The Vision Council teams worked closely together to launch the Virtual EYE2EYE Series.
Initially, the Virtual EYE2EYE Series was conceived as a twice-a-week series of virtual panels and interactive conversations inspired by Vision Expo’s EYE2EYE educational series, but since launching in April, it has evolved into much more than that. Beyond serving as a way to host several panels originally scheduled for Vision Expo East 2020 in adapted formats, the series has also served as a platform from which we can come together for timely conversations addressing current challenges in the vision community.
The response has been overwhelming. Each week, we had hundreds of vision community members tune in to the sessions, a testament to the truly collaborative nature of this industry. We also tapped 15 different industry professionals to serve as guest moderators for these discussions. Some of these guest moderators are up-and-coming industry stars, and the EYE2EYE Series has provided a platform for them to showcase their talent and knowledge to an international audience.
We wanted the EYE2EYE Series to serve as both an inspiring outlet to encourage creative dialogue as well as a practical resource for members of the industry to find advice and useful information as we continue to adapt to an unprecedented reality that is evolving on a daily basis.
With this in mind, we divided the series into “Coffee Talk” conversations, which are moderated by a different industry expert every week, providing guidance as well as actionable business strategies to help eyecare providers protect their businesses during the pandemic, and “Happy Hour” conversations featuring up-and-coming and established creatives discussing their inspirations and advice for staying creatively engaged.
The format of the Virtual EYE2EYE Series has allowed us to be nimble and flexible so we can develop panels quickly around timely cultural conversations. In June and July, we hosted two Coffee Talk sessions around the theme of “Open Your Eyes,” during which we explored the intersection of diversity, inclusion and allyship—lively discussions focused on the current state of diversity and inclusion in the eyecare industry and what is needed to build a more equitable agenda in eyecare. The Vision Council and Vision Expo are committed to continuing to provide these forums where we can come together to discuss issues like these and shape real change in our community.
One reason why we think the Virtual EYE2EYE Series has been so well-received is because of its originality. Rather than being formatted as a webinar or a lecture, each session is a true conversation, which allows the community to come together in an authentic, very interactive way. It’s as if you were meeting your industry brothers and sisters for coffee or for happy hour to discuss topics of interest to you.
The EYE2EYE Series is just one part of a comprehensive series of virtual offerings that Vision Expo is offering to bring the optical community together in between in-person events. Additional virtual offerings hosted on Vision Expo’s Vision Connects web page include the Virtual Connections program, which links exhibitors with attendees and the Virtual Vision Series. These virtual offerings are designed for the eyewear and eyecare community to source content, build industry knowledge, facilitate connections and schedule meetings. The vision community is encouraged to visit the Vision Connects web page frequently to stay informed on leading topics and education, set up direct appointments and engage with other industry professionals in one centralized location.■
To learn more about the Virtual EYE2EYE Series, visit west.visionexpo.com/virtual-eye-2-eye.