I was recently speaking to a close friend who had just attended a conference for her industry. The conference had been on the schedule since last fall, since right after the prior annual event. So, everyone knew this event was coming.
But what transpired during the day-long conference last week was, in the words of my friend, “a deep exploration in exactly what NOT to do” for a virtual conference.
Planning for an in-person event is a mature, time-tested, well-known process, with an entire industry of people with “event planning” experience.
But planning for virtual events is fledgling, at best.
So, here are some of the strongest comments that were shared with me. I won’t bore you with all of them… it was a long list. But here are the highlights.
1. Once you make the decision to move from in-person to virtual, you must immediately reconsider your entire format. You cannot simply set up a multi-hour zoom meeting to replace your multi-hour in-person meeting.
2. You must ask yourself what content is a “must” and what content is a “nice to have” and what content is best left for another day. Any content that can easily be translated into some follow-up information, should be immediately set aside.
3. You have to build in more breaks, and make those breaks more than 10 minutes. You no longer are planning for one long meeting at your conference. You are now planning multiple, much-shorter meetings, with more obvious breaks in between.
4. This next point is always true, but perhaps more important in a virtual world. If there is going to be pre-work or pre-reads the following things must happen:
– The pre-work must be sent well ahead of time… not the day or night before.
– The pre-work must be pretty simple and not take a lot of time.
– The pre-work must make sense of how it fits into the topic of the conference. Participants have to have some understanding of why they are being asked to do this.
5. Don’t try to cram too much content onto your slides… we have been saying this at The Latimer Group for nearly two decades. But the problem becomes even more egregious when your audience is staring at their screen all day long. Cognitive overload is a real thing.
The bottom line here is that virtual conferences or meetings are totally different animals than in-person conferences or meetings. And they require special treatment and planning.
We all need to be good at this, people… because virtual meetings are not going away any time soon.
Have a great day.
At The Latimer Group, we believe that great communication skills can change the world. We transform people and organizations with simple, repeatable techniques and mindsets. We teach persuasive communication skills through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and eLearning. To learn more about how we can transform your organization, e-mail us at info@TheLatimerGroup.com
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