Virtual Conferences - At a Glance

Much like every other industry – COVID-19 has forced companies to change, innovate, and quickly. One of the industries that have been shaken the most – understandably – is Conferences.
This week, I had the pleasure of picking the brain of Marie Cheshier. Marie is one of my coworkers who mainly works on Cornerstone LMS projects and Virtual Conferences that range from Credit Union to Racial Justice topics. She provided me with a refreshing perspective at the now-vital sub-industry of Conferences that I found beneficial and worth sharing with all of you!

The Plusses

  • No need to book travel or hotels
  • Generally, the ticket prices are cheaper
  • On-demand sessions (or recordings) mean that you never miss a session
  • More speakers are available
  • Potential to hold conference for longer than you would an in-person conference

The Minuses

  • Can become exhausting/boring sitting on a computer all day watching someone talk
  • Participant engagement is more difficult
  • Turn-out is lower to live events with the option to watch recordings at a later date
  • Potential for technical issues
  • Miss out on human interaction and connection

Chief Complaints

New tech is always difficult to learn and making the adjustment from an easy in-person conference to navigating a conference software and Zoom can be challenging.

Chief Compliments

As new players to the Virtual Conference game, our biggest compliment has been how smooth everything runs. With the proper training/demos, the conferences go off without a hitch – the live events rarely have technical issues, the speakers are well prepared and the presentations are professional, and our top-notch support ensures everyone gets what they need, when they need it.

Forecasting the Future

When the eventual end of COVID arrives, there is going to end up being a hybrid approach to virtual conferences. Eventually, we will go back to being in-person because turn-out, engagement, and human interaction is so much higher when you are in-person. Plus, it’s a huge win for the vendors/sponsors to be able to have a “real” exhibitor hall where people can wander around during breaks. However, with the convenience of virtual conferences (and the fact that COVID is not going away), I think there will always be a virtual element to conferences for those individuals/companies that cannot travel. I’m thinking that live streaming keynote sessions or an all-access pass to recordings after the conference is over.