05 Jun 2020

What is a “virtual conference” anyway? Is it a webinar? What about the receptions?

April and May introduced the world to the growing potential of video web meetings. Some of the daring, agile businesses that had a slew of cancelled in-person conferences in Las Vegas, Orlando, and other conference cities have transitioned to virtual conferences.

But what really is a virtual conference?

Is it just a series of long webinars strung together over a few days with speakers droning on, doing live demos, and speaking to PowerPoints? Can there be some human connection element, which was so important for in-person conferences, resurrected in virtual form?

One thing is for sure — not all virtual conferences will make the cut. Some will dial back into webinar-land, and very few will create a new and innovative format that factors in reduced attention span, more distractions, lower commitment levels, and the challenges of group-speaking in a virtual format.

Tech Essentials (among the daring, agile few) has considered the art of the possible for virtual conferences. In its OPTIMIZE! 2020 E-SIGN & E-SECURITY conference on June 18, we have woven in what we see as five characteristics of success:

  1. Creating short format “main stage” sessions that are heavily interactive with peer insight and a panel focus. No session should be more than 20 minutes and in 20 minutes, should be a powerfully-moderated session to extract peer insights for the benefit of attendees;
  2. Hosting specialized sessions with expert breakouts with each breakout designed to independently attract a loyal following. Attendees will need to connect with at least a few sessions in order to keep them popping in and out of the conference throughout the day;
  3. Moving product demos to videos and making the product interaction an AMA (ask-me-anything) interactive discussion. Thus, our demo lounge will feature short-form videos, and our demo-discussion will feature ask-me-anything demo live meeting rooms;
  4. Awarding prizes every hour for our engaged attendees instead of at the conference closing. Prizes every hour will benefit those who are coming in and out of the conference and will keep people attentive throughout; and
  5. Managing time zones. Never before have conference organizers had to consider what sessions would be relevant to both Europeans and Californians so as to ensure those sessions are set in the right time zone and the speakers are relevant to both regions.

Well, one last element is missing: Most of the platforms offering this virtual format have left out the conference networking reception and booth visit. Chat/text functions in virtual booths just don’t cut it. Recorded demos don’t create a human bond – after all, people want to do more business with people who they like to do business with in the first place.

Will the VIRTUAL Las Vegas-themed OPTIMIZE! 2020 E-SIGN & E-SECURITY conference replicate the Las Vegas conference vibe? Some hope not (no smoky corridors and casinos) and some hope so (engaging short-form peer learning with some level of human connection and, of course, cash prizes).

Come see for yourself. Register for RPost’s June 18 OPTIMIZE! 2020 free virtual conference today.

For those curious, RPost will provide a 15 minute advance tour, unveiling its new (virtual) conference center and reviewing the conference agenda on Thursday, June 11 at 11am ET (click here to join the short live tour webinar).