Live action required: Accessing information via video for remote delegates

Video is ubiquitous. The equipment is cheap and readily available; most of us now carry a high-quality video camera around with us everywhere we go (our phone). 

It’s easy to stream live content through any number of apps, and it’s ridiculously easy to share video content – did you know that three hundred hours of video is uploaded on to YouTube every second of every day? That’s nearly 26 million hours of video uploaded every day.

Using video at conferences is nothing new. Hybrid conferences have been around since the 80s and people have been saying for years that video conferencing will see the end of face to face meetings but it still hasn’t, despite the technology being easily available to anyone now. In fact, technology only seems to be increasing the number of meetings that happen – webinars are extremely common these days.

Our industry doesn’t seem to be embracing this technology yet but what if cost, location or timing makes it simply impossible to attend an event? If I want to access the content of an interesting tech conference in San Francisco, the only option I currently have is to book a flight and accommodation and take several days out of my schedule. Everyone wants the slides shared after the sessions but those slides are almost always incomplete without the audio that went with them.

We are used to accessing information via video on demand, so why can’t I access the content of a conference this way? I believe that conference organisers are missing a big trick because video has the potential to seriously impact on the events industry in a positive way and it feels like a vast untapped resource.

Videoing conference content and making it available online would create a whole new audience for your event, and therefore a whole new potential revenue stream. I’m sure some organisers would worry that it would lower attendance but if you were live streaming the sessions you may have a dramatically larger potential audience. Of course, the content isn’t the only reason for attending an event – plenty of people love the social interaction that an event brings and that won’t change.

Video offers so much potential and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future we have fully virtual conferences – a series of online sessions delivered to a totally remote audience. They would be curated in the same way as a traditional conference – to serve a purpose or topic – and the speaker could present, see the audience and then also answer questions online.

Some of the tech conferences are already live streaming some of their content, it’s currently limited to keynotes and the main sessions rather than all of the individual sessions but it is a start.

It’s not often I get excited by the impact of technology but I believe video offers a huge benefit to an organiser. Organisers need to shift their mind set and see the potential and not the threat.

Simon Clayton is the chief ideas officer of RefTech

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