Is it possible that the virtual event has maybe — perhaps — gotten a bad rap?
A year plus of COVID has made us screen weary and webcam shy. So, the idea of hours more in front of the computer screen, listening to floating heads, may fail in comparison to memories of 2019’s bustling convention floors. But that’s comparing. If COVID-time has taught anything, it’s the need to look at situations with a fresh perspective. And virtual organizers have been eyes wide open in transforming perceived shortcomings into advantages for you and your team in attending and learning from on screen events.
A Professional Time Machine
First up: expect to find that the restroom lines are (generally) shorter! You can also skip the queue at registration and check-in. The virtual versions are fast and easy.
These simple examples are just the start of the overall time savings virtual events make possible. In the past, travel across the country meant hours and dollars. When the event is virtual, geographical barriers vanish, and costs are greatly reduced — if not eliminated all together. Less time spent on travel means more valuable, effective interactions.
In-person, you’re going full-tilt to navigate busy show floors in order to attend speaker sessions, join workshops, grab meals and view demos. It’s easy to miss out — and wear out. A virtual event is time efficient. There’s no hunting for rooms. Connect through your device of choice — laptop, phone, tablet — from your preferred location. It’s less stress, and that leaves more energy to focus on the content that will be most meaningful to your workplace.
With many event sessions being recorded, it’s also possible to “time shift”, viewing (or re-viewing) the content at a time that’s more convenient to your overall schedule.
Inclusion & Diversity
Ideas flourish in collaboration with others. So, the more people on your team that can be exposed to an event’s information and activities, the better it is for your business. While the “real world” brings many restrictions, the virtual world is more inclusive. Virtual events provide for audiences that cannot or would not travel.
Do some of your team have a disability or chronic illness that restricts travel? Constraints on travel no longer need to restrict the partners that join you at the event. What about difficulties with sensory processing? Accessibility features on screen are designed to enhance accessibility. Do your representatives have childcare needs? When the event is over for the day, they’re already home.
Bringing along these diverse perspectives as you visit the virtual world can accelerate the advancement of your individual organizations — maybe even your entire industry.
Very Special Guests
While in-demand speakers, influencers, and celebrities have a hard time making time to travel between distinct, distant event locations, it’s far easier on their packed calendar to join in virtually. The advantage to you is an increase in high caliber talent and thought leadership that is on your screen, bringing forward their expertise on industry trends. And with everyone broadcasting from home, a well-known influencer is going to come across as more authentic and relatable — as a professional and a person. No matter the elevated status of that celebrity CEO, this type of personal, real connection can help you recognize yourself and your situation more easily.
The More You Know
Because those “running the show” don’t have to spend as much upfront — no booths, stalls, material shipping, union costs — they’ve been able to pass the savings on in the form of increased learning opportunities. Virtual organizers are scheduling more interactive panel discussions, speaker sessions and networking events. These shared experiences can translate into shared solutions, as you see and interact with other business leaders facing the same challenges. With digital “breakout rooms”, virtual events can create small, focused-topic discussion channels and knowledge sessions not typically available at a live event.
Expect more interest in what you have to say during the course of the event. The digital platform provides more chances to participate via live polls, surveys, ratings and other feedback systems. This level of analysis and understanding will allow the event planners to continue to refine the virtual event in almost real time — even tailoring push content for a greater personalized experience that can make your engagement more meaningful.
These digital environments can also function as a next-level networking lounge. It can be impossible to meet all the people you want to at a live event. Virtual events level the playing field and open up opportunities. In the virtual space, have a look around at your convenience, to see who else is there of interest: on screen info is much easier to read than scoping out details from a name badge on a lanyard. If it’s not your style to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know, instantaneous digital contact details mean you can initiate an intro on your terms. There’s no need for a long wait in line to talk to a speaker when there are chat features. Making a connection with industry peers and interesting contacts can be easier than ever.
With no physical barriers, and fewer interpersonal hurdles, the digital venue can streamline and empower social interactions, increasing spontaneity — even serendipity.
A Virtual Green Deal
When you go virtual, you’re not just helping your business — you’re helping the planet. Flying in to a faraway place equals 2 metric tons of carbon dioxide — per delegate. Add that to the waste generated at a physical event. There’s an almost incalculable amount of paper and plastic generated in the form of marketing collateral, handouts, welcome bags, and exhibition banners. Plus, the environmental cost for each attendee’s food, water and power consumption/wastage. Suddenly, that “virtual connect” button can make you feel like you’re doing something good for a sustainable future.
Obligation — And Opportunity
To gain from all that any event offers, you have to bring something of yourself as well. Because virtual events demand less obligation in terms of presence and certain financial/time commitments, there can be a tendency to be more easily distracted by “real life:” that Slack, that office email, that meeting notice, that presentation review. Before you know it, you’ve spent more time on your day-to-day than on the unique offerings of the event.
Maximize what you get out of the event by establishing an accountability to yourself. Find a special place to log in from that is different from the everyday. Be focused, engaged and motivated. By treating the virtual as seriously as any in person event, you can ensure that you and your company get as much out of attending as when you might have flown across the country.
WorkplaceEX and You
You can continue to imagine the positive vibes from a highly engaging and informative virtual event, or better yet why not experience one for yourself? Korbyt is hosting our first virtual, workplace experience, event WorkplaceEX on April 27th and 28th. These two half-days will feature speakers from leaders from prominent organizations like the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Pitney Bowes, Delta Dental, Kaiser Permanente, Northwest Bank and more. An energetic mix of interactive panel discussions, think sprints, and presentations reveal insights and inspire you to think different when it comes to the future of work. Take your place on screen alongside these leaders to start creating your playbook for a connected, hybrid organization empowering employees with the data and tools they need to work — and flourish — from anywhere.