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Amidst virus-related event transitions from live to virtual, “duh” moments

As live events were being converted to virtual ones in light of COVID-19, the rest of us were learning how and when to do things professionally compassionate whether we work in PR, tech support, sports or any other industry. As for those seminars and conventions, their online siblings have grown each day and to no surprise for those of us who’ve streamed anything, they’re effective.

We’ve all learned things professionally and personally during “safer at home” quarantines, that we probably didn’t expect. Mine have come through newsletters, podcasts and social media. The last weeks have shone a light on new subjects, and others have been so obvious we wonder why they weren’t done before. I call them “duh moments.” One of those happened when I chatted on Twitter with nurse practitioner and founder of Seva Health, Angel Shannon, about conferences that were canceled to help COVID-19 or Coronavirus from spreading.

I realized that before we physically distanced, I didn’t see many online options for large events. Why not? As Shannon further tweeted, “I mean, it’s not the 80s … the Jetsons and Star Trek imaginings. The technology is already here!”

The benefits to livestreaming were so close that maybe we saw them like a piece of furniture that sat in the same spot for years and we just walked passed it. There are two immediate benefits to share conferences by video or even audio. No. 1 – organizers are likely to get more registrations. There are dozens of professionals that can’t travel because of financial or physical restrictions, so they are perfect targets for live streams. No. 2 – memberships. Some of the professional organizations I belong, discount conference registration to members of the host organization. Imagine the bump in memberships if people know their dues may give them discounted access to events on or off-site.

“Think of the number of people who don’t attend sector-specific conferences because they don’t work in the space or may feel self-conscious about attending physically, but want to make a career transition or simply know more about an industry,” Shannon said. “Livestreaming is also great for organizations with speaker lineups that reach capacity the minute their tickets go on sale. Pennsylvania Women’s Conference started to do this after Michelle Obama was scheduled as its keynote and ticket buyers broke the internet.”

Shannon suggested that organizations don’t even have to discount live streams and people would still register. Of course being self-employed I said, “bbbbbutttt …!” She has a point, though. I think groups can make it work either way.

This doesn’t completely omit the value of physically attending an event. Being able to interact with others is an absolute benefit. But if you can’t go, remote access is an obvious solution.

When we return to a revamped version of life outside of our homes, event organizers would be wise to consider the simplest of video-sharing platforms. They may increase memberships, raise revenue and expand events’ brands, and possibly encourage more on-site registrations in years to come.


©Gail Sideman, 2020

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