Online Events v In-Person Events
We've all done incredibly well to make the transition to working remotely and even holding events online that would normally have taken place in-person.It has been a challenge, that's certain, but we have also learned a lot about what is possible when circumstances force your hand.One thing we have been particularly interested in is the popularity and success of online events, which we've written about before as we looked at the forecast for when people will be willing to return to in-person events.
Even when we are able to meet face-to-face we think online events may still be a popular offering for many reasons. In terms of environmental considerations, less business travel is a big plus. Of course, there will still be times when flying to another location is needed, but we have seen that many meetings can be done virtually, files can be shared and banks are even able to set up mortgages for customers via video link. Justifying a lot of expensive business travel and accommodation when an event could just as easily be held online will be difficult in the future.
Time is also a factor.The time spent travelling to an event can really add up and impact productivity. Instead, if the total travelling time and accommodation costs for an event was zero (by staying at home and accessing it virtually), it's a much more attractive proposition, from time management, financial and environmental viewpoints. What many event organisers have found is that virtual events tend to run shorter than in-person ones. This is largely due to that fact that small talk and networking are more difficult to do within an online conference – networking is still a possibility but this could be done via LinkedIn or during dedicated break-out sessions, rather than in dribs and drabs throughout the day.
People are also less likely to talk for ages or repeat themselves over and over again when they're on a webcam – people feel very much on-the-spot during virtual events and are very conscious that all eyes are on them. Of course, this is the case when you're at a real life event too, but it doesn't stop people holding forth on their favourite topic when you're standing in front of them! This helps save time and increases general engagement with the event because the boredom factor is reduced.
Technology has developed rapidly in response to the needs of businesses adapting to a new way of working, so file sharing and collaboration are now very easy for all members of a team wherever they are based. Audience interaction and participation is easily facilitated using tools like Slido, and this can also help reduce time by enabling participant sharing in a streamlined way. Microsoft Teams has a live captions option, which is great for people with hearing impairments or with dodgy internet connections – even if the video freezes you'll still get real-time live captions so you won't miss anything. Zoom has the option for break-out rooms to allow for group work and collaboration online, and all these tools can be used for team building and bonding exercises too.
Finally, we think that the new work-life balance people are achieving by working, at least part of the time, from home is making us all re-address our priorities.If we're able to spend more time with our families and friends by opting to attend virtual meeting rather than in-person one then we will, and we'll also relish the chance to attend events in the comfort of our pyjama trousers too!
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