Are live conferences dead?

I have seen the future and it is virtual. Recently, I participated in a virtual leadership conference on a platform called Remo. It was as good as being at a live conference. Actually better, because there were no lineups to the washrooms.

Remo has everything we associate with conferences – networking, sharing business cards, round table discussions, an emcee, breakout rooms and keynote speakers.

In this platform you can move from table to table, record the event for later distribution on your other social media platforms and have your virtual business card available with one click.

So is there a place for old fashion live events after Covid? Yes, because it is in our nature to gather face-to-face, belly-to-belly. But what those live gatherings will look like post-Covid is anyone’s guess.

Many are saying there will be ‘hybrid’ events in the future – a fusion of live and virtual audiences. For example, an international company can hold their conference live at their headquarters in a smaller venue and bring everyone else in virtually. They would save thousands of dollars.

Whether you mount a hybrid conference or a virtual one, holding your audience’s attention is more challenging than before because there are more temptations.

In the virtual conference scenario, people are in their own home offices, or kitchens, or bedrooms, or living rooms. They can turn off their cameras and microphones. So no one will see them checking email, biting into that giant sub or sleeping.

In the ‘hybrid scenario, you have to engage two audiences with two different ways of digesting information at the same time. That’s a real balancing act.

What most users of virtual conference platforms agree is that:

  • post-covid virtual conferencing in some form or other is here to stay.
  • you must have strong visuals to hold the audiences attention.
  • you must have audience participation experts say every 6 minutes.
  • rehearsal are critical.
  • you should spread the event out over a few days in 2 hours blocks. Asking people to sit for 3 to 4 hours at their laptops at home is a recipe for failure.
  • you must make sure everyone has the appropriate downloads ahead of time.
  • make sure your bandwidth  and WIFI supports the conference.
  • it’s essential to have a technical trouble shooter accessible to all attendees during the conference.

And finally, consider your audience’s technical skill and their digital habits. You may have to use a simpler platform or send them a simple guide before the event, to help them prepare and allow them to get the maximum benefit out of the event.

Just remember, virtual is here to stay because it makes health sense and dollar sense.