Client  British Council
Event  ELTons Innovation Awards 2020
Who  884 industry professionals from 75 countries around the world, working in the area of education innovation and leadership, in organisations, businesses and institutions (as well as freelancers). The live stream of the ceremony also widely available to teachers and learners worldwide via the YouTube and Facebook channels.
Host  Reverend Richard Coles
Where  Virtual Platform – Hopin
Date 15 October 2020


This year would mark the 18th anniversary of the ELTons, and for the first time in its history, the awards ceremony would be held completely online. Crucial to the delivery of the virtual ceremony would be maintaining the anticipation and great sense of community, through networking, finalists’ showcase, and the ceremony itself, all of which had been central to the usual in-person event. Additionally, the judges of the awards had selected 29 finalists (from 130 entries) from around the world in advance of the ceremony, but the winners of the 7 awards would not be announced until the live, virtual ceremony. The global finalists for each award needed to be brought together live during the ceremony, for the announcement of their award’s winner, followed by the winner’s speech. 


  • Production and distribution of enhanced pre-event assets to create positive user-experiences and high engagement on the platform 
  • Create unique opportunities for attendees from around the world to connect and catch-up with industry colleagues and friends live during the event 
  • Showcase finalists’ innovations and creators within the platform for attendee engagement 
  • Curate a high-production value ceremony, bringing together a total of 37 live-streamed individuals (hosts, presenters, and finalists) to stage from around the globe, and live announcement of award winners. 

The event

The ELTons celebrated the most innovative products (publications, courses, apps, projects and platforms) to aid English language learning and teaching around the world, alongside the individuals and teams behind them. Moving online for the first time in 18 years, the ELTons took place on the virtual platform, Hopin. The ceremony welcomed presenters, finalists, winners, and attendees from 75 countries globally. The live ceremony itself was hosted by the Reverend Richard Coles, and featured the presentation of 7 awards by 7 different presenters. A total of 29 finalists across the awards joined the live stage for the announcement of their award’s winner, with each winner giving an acceptance speech upon receipt.  

Either side of the live ceremony, attendees were encouraged to participate in Meet the Innovators roundtables, connect and catch-up with colleagues through the 1:1 video networking and chat features, and visit the booths to learn more about the finalists’ unique products. Throughout the event, attendees, finalists, organisers, and presenters connected, celebrated, and shared insights in the event-wide and stage-specific chats, creating that sense of community that had been desired from the outset. 

What we did differently from a normal live event?

Collaborating closely with our client, we worked to produce and distribute key materials to attendees prior to the event, enabling time for familiarisation of both the virtual platform and the new format of the ceremony, and ultimately enhance the user-experience in advance of the ceremony. We ensured that this attendee communication and increased support was carried forward into the day of the event too; we provided a helpdesk for all attendees, increased notifications and announcements to attendees by utilising the event-wide chat function and pinned messages, and provided video and phone support throughout the day.  

We also engaged with finalists in the months and weeks prior to the event to equip them with the tools and confidence to execute their roles on the day of the ceremony. We supported them in the creation of their virtual booth assets and roundtables, provided demos and tutorials for navigating the Hopin platform, and briefed them on the technical and content-specific elements for when they be streamed to the live stage during the ceremony. 

Whilst a live event would normally involve having the host and presenter on-site, this was of course not possible for the virtual event, and we didn’t have speakers in studios either. We still wanted to ensure the production value of the presenters/hosts sections were strong, so we arranged speaker kits that were sent to all of them, not just in the UK but to those in France, India, and event Buenos Aires too! 

What we did that was the same?

The work, time, and effort that goes into planning, creating, and executing a virtual event is as great as it is for a live event, and our passion and drive to deliver a high-production value remains. Our designers worked hard to create inspiring and imaginative assets including a variety of animations, lower thirds, and slides which complemented the host and presenters’ narratives, and captured the client’s brand and purpose. We had a strong team of production and event crew who worked collectively with our client, pre-event and on-the-day to ensure the host, presenters, and finalists appearing on the stage were briefed, confident, and well-prepared for their key moments, and that the content and streaming were executed with professionalism and quality on the day. 

Some key stats:

  • 884 attendees 
  • 75 countries 
  • 3 Hosts 
  • 6 presenters 
  • 29 finalists  
  • 7 awards 
  • 34 Finalist and Partner Booths 
  • 30 Roundtables 
  • 1 day!