Engagement is the next big hurdle for virtual conferences. People are registering, but they are not engaging. Why?
Lately, I’ve been attending many virtual meetings to dissect what works and what doesn’t. Yesterday I attended two very different meetings, each with the same number of attendees, and hosted on Zoom.
The first meeting was what I’d call a webinar plus-style presentation. This session was about a topic that I’m very interested in. The speaker presented from a slide deck (webinar-style). Every ten minutes or so, they paused and asked us a question to which we would reply to in the chat (plus). The meeting was scheduled for 75 minutes, and by the 20-minute mark, I was half-listening and occasionally chatting while also paying bills.
The second meeting had no slides. The moderator enthusiastically welcomed everyone as they came on, posed a fun question, sent us to breakout groups to discuss. Once back in the main room, she led us through a series of thoughtful questions and discussion. The conversation was so good that I wished we had much more time when we started to wrap up. It seems the standard 60 or 90-minute in-person session is way too long for virtual, while the quick collaborative in-person session is way too short for online.
We are starting to see that all the conventions we learned while hosting our in-person conferences might not work online. It is time to start reinventing virtual conferences rather than pulling conventions from our in-person meeting structure. Get ready to experiment with format, cadence, timing, duration, and more to see what is the most engaging in this environment.