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Bite-sized chunks of information best for virtual conference

With a slowdown in face-to-face meetings becoming more apparent due to COVID-19 concerns, event planners are looking at other ways to host events, conferences and meetings, such as online.

Virtual

Neil Coombes

“Virtual events offer a very real alternative,” said Neil Coombes, senior account manager at UKSV.

“They have been around for a long time, although have tended to be run in conjunction with a live audience event, by simply streaming the content to a wider group,” he added.

However, Coombes points out that creating a successful virtual event isn’t as easy as transferring the physical event online.

“In a purely online context it’s really important to revise that approach; holding exactly the same event without an audience as you would have with one simply won’t work.

“Rather than the traditional full programme of speakers, a virtual environment lends itself to dynamic formats where content can be consumed in bite-sized chunks in the order most relevant to the delegates.”

This can be achieved through a mix of shorter live and pre-recorded content, TED-style talks, must-watch presentations and live Q&A sessions, Coombes suggested.

“Chat forums and polling platforms such as Slido can help them feels as much a part of the action as possible,” added Coombes.

Virtua

Jeremy Shakerley

Virtual meetings also have the added benefit of cost savings and overcoming accessibility issues. However, Jeremy Shakerley, UKSV managing director pointed out that this alternative won’t work in every context.

“It’s hard to imagine a successful virtual awards ceremony, for example. And the shift in the industry will be only a temporary one.

“But down the line when the risk posed by COVID-19 subsides, I believe those virtual innovations will enhance rather than replace the live event because, while technology can do incredible things to bring people together, it will never supersede the value of face-to-face interactions.”