CAN A VIRTUAL CONFERENCE REPLACE A FACE TO FACE CONFERENCE?
Although virtual conferences do not fully replace personal meetings, they offer specific benefits within their capabilities. When attending a classic conference, the participant must take into account the costs of travel and hotel accommodation and, last but not least, the time spent by travelling. In the case of a virtual event, only the registration fee applies to the participant.
The great advantage of a virtual conference is especially the possibility of watching it in an environment in which the participant feels comfortable and is not distracted by surrounding phenomena. Convenience is also in the simplicity of connection; everyone can easily participate in online conferences; even a mobile phone is enough to connect. All he needs is a working internet connection.
While this may seem obvious, it is crucial to focus on an engaging format for a virtual conference and content. The meeting must have a clear purpose and theme that motivates the participants. For virtual conferences, the participants’ attention is much shorter than for a live session in the congress centre. On the other hand: virtual meetings can go even further – imagine that, depending on your competencies, you will receive a link with content that matches your specific expertise. With content scaling, you can more easily skip trivial issues and focus on the details that matter to you. If you come across more intricate details, you can skip them and return to them in the future, because virtual conferences usually offer the ability to view content from a recording as well.
Virtual conferencing also carries certain negatives. People tend to multitask, for example, during a conference they are disturbed by incoming emails to which they respond, pick up the phones, or are interrupted by children at home.
And while a good internet connection may seem obvious today, some people have slower internet at home or in the office. They may also be discouraged by some problems setting up online programs, especially on more secure corporate networks.
We will also mention one limiting element of virtual conferences, and that is the different time zone of the participants.
In a classic conference, participants from all over the world gather at a given location. In a virtual event, there may be situations where participants join a live broadcast from another continent. Unfortunately, the schedule of the virtual conference needs to be adjusted accordingly.
4 TIPS FOR ORGANIZING A SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL CONFERENCE
We have compiled the following recommendations that can help the success of your virtual conference.
1. Technical background at a professional level
Professional technical background is the most critical point for a successful virtual conference. A malfunctioning image or sound transmission can spoil the whole impression of the event to the participant. From the technical equipment, each lecturer must have a quality web camera (video transmission), a microphone (headphones with a microphone are ideal), as well as a stable internet connection. Connection testing and training lectures before the event are vital for the smooth execution of the event.
The background for the video also affects the participant’s experience. The first option is to transfer video and audio directly from lecturers from their office or home environment. Even in this simple variant, it pays to pay attention to sufficient illumination of the speaker. There must be no distracting elements behind the speaker, and in case of taste, it is possible to decorate the environment, either with flowers or artistic artefacts.
The second option is the possibility to use a software version of the virtual studio. With a unique application, connected speakers speak with a background of the virtual studio environment in the colours and branding of the conference.
The best option is to broadcast from specially built television studios that they can use also, the keying effect on a green background, and transfer the present speakers to other virtual environments. This option provides the best results, but also requires adequate investment.
2. Well-processed content
The presentation that the participants see must be understandable, attractive in colour, and content. Slides are simple, animations, and more complex transitions need to be pre-tested. Some participants do They watch conferences from mobile devices. The images should be designed as if they were for the audience in the back of a large auditorium.
Even more than standard conferences, it’s hard to keep your computer’s attention. Even with the best of intentions and excellent speaking skills on the part of the lecturer, most people will keep their attention 10-15 minutes. The use of interactive elements is, therefore, a diversification that virtual conferences demand. We can include, for example, voting that will address the participants’ preferences to address the situation the speaker is discussing, the speaker’s evaluation, or the conference itself during and after the event. Quizzes and surveys in the field will also find their application here. The most common elements are chat and Q&A, or the ability to ask questions during the process that will be answered by the speaker or other invited persons.
3. Interactive section management
The role of the moderator in a virtual conference is vital. Monitors the level of attention of participants and checks if they are active, for example, during interactive parts of a meeting. It encourages them to take action when chatting in a discussion, monitors questions and passes them to the lecturer, or answers them. At the end of the section, he can highlight important points that the speaker talked about and start a discussion on the issue.
4. Active content outside the meeting
Breaks in the online environment offer more extensive variability than in a classic conference. At a traditional conference, during a break, participants refresh themselves or communicate with each other in the same environment. For a virtual meeting, on the other hand, you can add unusual break activities, such as a virtual visit to a museum, gallery, or, for example, a 15-minute yoga lesson for a healthy back while sitting at a computer.
Break sessions also offer much greater variability to initiate small group discussions during breaks. These sessions can build real relationships between participants that last even after the event. During breaks, participants can view a virtual exhibition.
VIRTUAL CONFERENCES HAVE A FUTURE
Thanks to modern technologies, live broadcasts can be organized for thousands of participants from all over the world. For their experience of a virtual event to be the best possible, it is necessary to plan well all aspects from the optimal experience of the remote participant. We will actively develop these trends at GUARANT International and in cooperation with our clients.