Virtual or In-Person Meeting: What Makes Sense When
Jun 03, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

Much is being touted these days about virtual meetings. And if it isn’t virtual, it’s hybrid. So what is the future of meetings? Awhile back, I wrote about the value of face-to-face meetings. This is a little different flavor of the same subject, looking at why people attend events remotely and the generational difference regarding virtual technology.

On June 10, 2010, 260 in-person attendees and 1,400 virtual attendees of the Virtual Edge Summit participated in a case study called "Measuring and Maximizing the Impact of a Hybrid Event." Below is what they found when they compared the reasons attendees participated in various meeting formats.

Virtual Meeting


An In-person Attendee said the following:

43% Desired to Expand their Network;
41% Wanted Personal Interaction with the Presenters and/or Other Attendees;
30% Said They Learn Better in Person and 
26% Wanted to Build Deeper Relationships with Their Existing Network.

A Virtual Attendee said the following:

56% Said it was a Cost Savings Measure;
52% Said it Saved Them Time;
37% Just Wanted to Try a Virtual Event

In addition, if no virtual option was available, 93% said they would not attend the in-person event. 

However, after experiencing a Virtual Event:

42% Missed the Opportunity to Connect with Others;
28% Had Technical Difficulties
7% Said the Presenter Didn’t Connect with Their Virtual Audience

With regards to demographics, Millennials (those individuals born between 1982 and the present) are the biggest users and most likely to become advocates of virtual technology. 

So, given the above information, what’s an event services company to do? Given the guidelines above, consider the need to do the following:

  1. Figure out creative ways to expand our attendees network, in the meeting rooms and outside of them. Come up with creative, fun ways for attendees to network. Rent Tablet PCs and put them on the tables with a networking exercise. Allow every attendee to create 1 slide about their organization and load them on the Powerpoint presentation equipment. 
  2. Create fun and interaction between attendees and speakers. Figure out how each session can meet the attendees needs, without being boring. Get the attendees involved. Ask your speakers to come early and stay late. Most speakers fly in, do their speech, and fly out. Ask them to stick around and attend the networking events.
  3. Make certain your attendee is learning. Audience Response System rentals can be used to test the attendees knowledge about the topic. Rent Tablet PCs, or laptops for note taking. Have touch panel kiosks available for 24/7 access to presentations and/or ask speaker or event organizers questions.
  4. Figure out ways to help return attendees build deeper relationships. Perhaps ask attendees in advance who are the 10 people they want to connect with at the conference and figure out how you can connect them. Put online the attendee list with email addresses so people can start connecting before the conference. 
  5. Implement hybrid events, when they make sense. If you know a certain segment of your audience is never going to travel to your event, make virtual sessions available.

Contact AV Event Solutions for great technology solutions for your next face-to-face or hybrid event!

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