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Case Study

Civil Service Live becomes 2020’s biggest virtual conference

Cabinet Office

Civil Service Live

Type of event


July 2020


Scale, style and substance collide to reveal the untapped potential of virtual events.

Civil Service Live is an annual event hosted to unify the Civil Service community. There are learning sessions, panel discussions and debates, featuring appearances from some of the leading experts in the sector, such as Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office Alex Chisholm.

Civil Service Live is designed to educate, engage and inspire. But in 2020, Covid-19 stood in the way of these objectives, at a time when it was crucial for the civil service community to discuss how best to work together through the crisis.

Their rolling roadshow was ground to a halt just weeks out from showtime and they needed to find a new event partner fast. This partner had to be an experienced and trusted authority in the virtual event space who could help them to pivot their approach to a virtual offering – a first for the organisation.

A Brilliant Civil Service required a brilliant solution to overcome the disruption caused by Covid-19: something accessible, sustainable, and capable of delivering their content to a massive global audience.

Live Group had just the approach in mind.


Live Group’s approach to the brief

With the starting pistol firing one month from launch, the Live Group team worked with focus and pace to build a virtual event infrastructure capable of handling the size of the expected audience, developing a content and comms approach which could be delivered on budget and on time, without compromising on quality. As the first large virtual event UN-GGIM and Ordnance Survey had been involved in, the High Level Forum would be a testing ground.

One crucial element that required careful consideration was the expected audience size, which stood in the tens of thousands. With this issue front-of-mind, attention was paid to the user experience when developing a bespoke virtual platform: clear registration pathways, a robust engagement strategy to hook audiences in and hold their attention, and a rock-solid infrastructure capable of delivering a smooth streaming experience to every delegate.

Additional steps were also taken to improve the accessibility of the platform. Working with our UX experts, we ensured the site adhered to best practice and exceeded accessibility criteria.

Our delivery on the day

Time to broadcast – no easy feat with dozens of sessions on the agenda spanning two days, with speakers spread across the country beaming out to 48,000 + viewers.

A studio was set up in a London location to host Civil Service speakers and government officials. This venue met Covid-19 safety regulations and was attended by Live Group technicians to guarantee a flawless stream throughout the agenda.

Other remote speakers were set up with a virtual green room. Here they could prepare to give their presentation and receive live guidance from our technicians at Live Group HQ.

With the level of talent on the docket, and the sheer numbers in attendance, our Stream Technicians ensured the broadcasts from each location were delivered with maximum clarity.


Civil Service Live was one of the largest virtual events ever held, exceeding its expected attendance by 62%. 

By amending the structure of the event from an in-person roadshow to a predominantly virtual offering, the event opened the discussion up to a vast audience base tuning in remotely, allowing the agenda, content and message to be spread far and wide. By concentrating the original seven-day roadshow agenda down into a focused virtual event, engagement was improved, as was the cost effectiveness of the event.

Engagement numbers continued to climb in the months following the event: all content and keynotes remained live on the platform in a content library, readily accessible to 500,000 civil servants at any time. This level of engagement is invaluable and provides actionable data which can be used to shape future events.

Civil Service Live stands as a clear demonstration of the capabilities of a virtual and hybrid event, and the potential still left to be unlocked. It was a demonstration of platform stability in the face of mounting scale, flawless delivery in the face of constraints, as well as the growing capabilities for virtual events to bring people together, effortlessly and more sustainably. For an organisation as vast as the Civil Service, virtual and hybrid solutions are the way forward.


Spent the last two days tuning in to #CivilServiceLive and probably managed to listen to more sessions than I would have made it to in person. Feeling slightly more connected as one of 450,000 UK civil servants too. Not bad for a first virtual conference!

Anonymous – Civil Servant, Civil Service