I want to take a few minutes to set some things straight about virtual meetings.
Myth: A virtual meeting does not have as much value as an in-person meeting.
Fact: Currently, virtual meetings have a higher value than in-person meetings simply because in-person meetings are not possible and may not be possible for some time to come. I am going to suggest as well that the future meeting landscape of hybrids (in person and online) will be viewed as providing high value as people continue to adapt to this new virtual reality and expect the flexibility of offerings.
Myth: You cannot charge for virtual meetings because no one will pay.
Fact: It is a well-known fact that people value something more if they pay for it – if they pay to attend an event, they are more likely to show up. Conferences are valued by participants mainly for the education and the connections, and they pay a registration fee to access these. The location of the meeting is in a sense almost irrelevant.
Myth: We need to decrease the sponsorship fee charged for a virtual event as it is not worth as much as an in-person event.
Fact: The costs to the sponsors to sponsor a virtual event are less than those of putting on an in-person event (e.g. representatives attending the event and hosting a lunch for participants) with the potential for increased attendance and a longer reach given on demand viewing post event, so why charge less?
Myth: Participants typically attend in-person Satellite Symposia because they are scheduled over the lunch hour and include lunch. No one will attend virtual Satellite Symposia scheduled as part of an online conference.
Fact: While some participants may only attend Satellites for the food, the majority of participants realize the content presented is of vital importance to stay informed and to improve their practice. Participants repeatedly comment in post-event evaluations on the high quality of the Satellites. I think it continues to be important to work with Satellite presenters to ensure the content is promoted in ways that create interest in the session.
Myth: Virtual meetings are boring and not much fun.
Fact: Only if you let it be so. With creativity, planning, preparation, and appropriate use of technology, there is plenty of opportunity to ensure that virtual meetings are exciting and fun.
Sarah Lowis, CMP, CMM, CAE, BA (French)
President and Founder