The Future of Events: What It Was Like to Attend a Virtual Conference

The time when we used to go to concerts, conferences, and other large-scale events seems like a distant memory…one that’s a lot further in the past than just 6 months ago. For those working in the events industry, it probably feels like a lifetime. In 2018, the global events industry was valued at $1.1 trillion and was predicted to grow to $2.3 trillion by 2026, according to Allied Market Research. Due to COVID, this growth in physical events is going to be, and already has been, severely stunted. The events industry must adapt and stay on its toes, especially as virtual events are expected to grow nearly ten-fold over the next decade from $78 billion to $774 billion. Many events, like NYC Pride, have already dipped their toes into the virtual waters. But these facts and predictions leave us all wondering what the future of events will look like exactly?



Last week I attended the Virtual Fintech Design Summit, hosted by Tech Circus and sponsored by InVision and TDA Creative. Having attended the same event in person last year, it was interesting to be able to directly compare the experiences. Overall, Tech Circus did an incredible job of running a full day’s conference pretty seamlessly with over 9 speakers and 500 attendees. In chatting with Tech Circus, they said the success was probably attributed to their custom-made domain and lessons learned from two previous virtual conferences that didn’t run as smoothly. After attending this virtual conference, here are some of the major pros and cons I spotted, as well as some tips if you’ll be attending a virtual event in the near future.

 
Pros

• More efficient Q&A – at this virtual summit, there was the option to type questions in a public Q&A section and vote on the questions you liked. The questions with the most votes would be asked by the moderator at the end of every presentation. Definitely a better way to handle Q&A!
• Less networking anxiety – one of the most valuable parts of any event is the opportunity to network. Ironically, this can also be the most nerve-wracking part. In this virtual event however, there were Zoom networking rooms that allowed you to chat with three other people for a few minutes before getting shuffled to another group. This dissipated the anxiety in approaching someone to introduce yourself, and allowed everyone to bond over how strange this new networking felt!
• Easier to catch people’s names and connect on LinkedIn – it’s always a tragedy when you meet someone and want to connect with them, but forget their name after the conversation. With virtual networking, it was easy to catch people’s names on their Zoom IDs, write them down, and connect with them later!
• Flexibility throughout the day – we’re all busy people and sometimes taking a whole day to attend a conference is just not possible. What was great about this virtual summit was that I could step out to take a call whenever I needed to.



Cons

• Zoom fatigue – spending a whole day at a conference is exhausting but spending a whole day at an online conference is exhausting to a new level. The Zoom fatigue is real my friends!
• No conference swag – this is a minor one, but hey, conference swag is something we all look forward to…even if we ever end up using it.
• Afterparty FOMO – the afterparty of any event is where the best networking is done and some of the best memories are made. Last year I remember the afterparty being a blast and some great conversations taking place. A big Zoom call was a bit less conducive to some of those memorable moments.
• The fight to focus – although it was convenient to have the flexibility throughout the day, it also made it hard to keep focused on the conference all the way through. (Yeah I'm looking at you, FB baking videos!) 



Tips

• Get dressed…at least from the waist up – networking virtually is still all about making impressions, and with less in person connection to go off of, your appearance will be a big component of any impression you leave. For classic style and comfort, I’d suggest our Essential Dress or our Silk Tee paired with some bold earrings and a pop of lip color.
• Follow up with your connections – as I mentioned, if your virtual event is done well, you’ll still have the opportunity to network and get to know people. But following up with these connections after the event will be more important than ever since that physical interaction will be missing.
• Limit distractions – block off the time in your calendar, put your OOO on, and pay attention! The beauty of virtual conferences is that you can be completely comfortable and absorb the content in an optimal way. Don’t let your social media feed, household chores, or email inbox take away from the experience!

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What are your thoughts on the future of events? Is it possible that fashion weeks will be able to operate virtually? 🤔 Let us know what you think by commenting below!

Sources: PR Newswire


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