The Virtual Conference - Yes, You Can Be Pants-less, But Is It Worth Your Time?
The Sprocket Report
When the coronavirus ended large business gatherings, many conferences went online. Now that we’ve all attended a few – and are facing maybe another year of them – let’s recap the pros and cons and plan for the future.
Virtual Conference Cons:
Oh, yay. More screen time.
We’re working from home, schooling from home, face-timing with vulnerable family from home, and we’ve all had it up to here with computer screens. The idea of committing a whole day or possibly two days to sitting in front of yet another screen is not enticing.
Multi-tasking is a myth.
Certainly folks are tempted by their phones even during in-person presentations, but ignoring emails and messages when they keep popping up on the same screen as the presenter’s face takes serious will power. It’s so easy to answer “just this one” and then suddenly, you’ve missed some crucial point and lost the thread of the whole program.
Hi! My name is ____.
Queuing up for coffee and looking for a place to sit are great times to meet new people who share your interests, and a really congenial Happy Hour could launch a life-long relationship. Virtual events do not exactly lend themselves to random encounters such as these.
How do you capture that “mountain top” experience?
Probably the best part of attending a conference is the opportunity to leave your everyday routine behind so you can immerse yourself in a very specific environment with like-minded folk. The rarified air is intoxicating, and when you come down from the mountain, you have renewed enthusiasm for your work. Shoe-horning a virtual conference into your regular routine doesn’t feel the same.
Virtual Conference Pros:
One-stop shop for training.
“I was pleased to attend the sessions at the conference. I picked up some information that would have been difficult to find on my own,” says Mark Buelsing of Let It Shine, and he’s right. What’s not to love about having a whole variety of educational programs assembled in one place for you to browse? Choose the ones most useful to your work and read up on topics whose usefulness might never have occurred to you before.
Get the latest from the experts.
Industry news is a staple of conferences. Getting all the details of what’s happening in just one or two speeches sure beats having to search through a bunch of news outlets, and because of the convenience of online events, it’s easier to book the biggest experts as the keynote speakers. Virtual events are also a boon for folks with tight travel budgets. Cassidi Peterson of 10 Pound Gorilla says of a recent conference: “Online added the extra value of connecting more of us from around the world.”
Note-taking has never been easier.
Virtual conference tools make it simple and cheap to provide quality recordings of presentations so you can re-watch them or share them with colleagues. And taking a screen shot of a slide you want to remember is both easier and more subtle than pulling out your phone at a live event.
Tap into mutually-supported focus.
A virtual conference concentrates education, news, and networking over a finite number of hours. You could probably get all of this information in other ways, but it would take a lot of effort and a lot of time, so would you really do it? When a team has already done all that work and then offered it to you, dedicating a day or two to absorb it is a no-brainer.
Conferences, whether virtual or in-person, are important outlets for putting names to faces, learning the capabilities of the different companies in your industry, and gathering leads for partners, clients, and careers. Putting all of that on hold until we can safely meet again doesn’t make sense, so search out and attend those virtual conferences. Or create one yourself like Gifford Watkins of Atlantic Webfitters recently did with dnnGLOBAL.ca. “I didn’t want it to be a whole year without a DNN conference,” says Watkins, who secured sponsors and speakers in a relatively short period of time.
While we at Sprocket Websites are not in the virtual conference business, we certainly have the tech knowledge to help you choose a platform and the marketing knowledge to help you spread the word. Just give us a call if you want to discuss the possibilities for your own online event.