More and more meeting organizers are beginning to integrate live and virtual events. It’s an exciting, fast-moving area that brings together the fields of meeting and program design, content capture, facilitation, technology, and audience development.
The Conference Publishers has been involved with some of the experiments with virtual access. We’ve seen brilliant successes and some very important learning moments. We’ve concluded that very few organizations are all-around experts in an area that as moving too fast, in too many directions, for anyone to keep track of everything. But clients and practitioners can learn from each other, and we’re proud to be a part of the process.
Meeting and program design
Designing a smart, compelling conference program is important enough at a face-to-face event. It’s even more crucial, and more challenging, when you’re trying to serve multiple live and virtual audiences. Program design should be at the top of the agenda when you first begin planning a hybrid meeting. And our associates and partners should be at the table to help you get the most out of your event.
Designing a hybrid program is half of the process. The other essential ingredient is facilitation. With different communities connected by technology, or hundreds of participants logging on from their desktops, your meeting will only succeed if you can keep everyone engaged. We can point you toward the experienced facilitators.
Keeping track of virtual meeting technologies is a full-time job. Sorting through the options takes a mix of knowledge, experience, and intuition. We’ve built relationships with some of the industry’s leading technology advisors to help our clients chart a successful course.
Building online audiences (without losing onsite attendance)
The most frequently asked question about virtual meetings is whether they’ll cannibalize onsite attendance. One study found that 34% of virtual meeting participants attended the same meeting in person the following year. It’s too soon to say whether this applies to all conferences. But hybrids open up a huge opportunity to build a wider meeting audience that includes:
- The people who actually attend
- The members or stakeholders who don’t go onsite
- The prospects on your marketing list who haven’t yet become active contacts
- The far wider audience of interested readers you haven’t even met yet
And for some conferences…
- The communities with which your audience needs to communicate.
Even if you already have an active audience development program, we should talk about how to maximize your meeting attendance, onsite and online.