Where We’ve Been: As I reflect back over the past four months of navigating nine associations through the current pandemic, we have learned there is no “one size fits all”. Each meeting is as unique as the organization that hosts it, and not all meetings come in the same shape and size. From hosting a multi-day, live virtual conference with five concurrent sessions to releasing on-demand pre-recorded content throughout the late Spring and early Summer, it is critical as association management professionals that we first determine the goals that each of our clients has to further their scientific meeting mission, and then create a successful meeting experience tailored to the organization’s needs. This virtual meeting experience lends itself to many interpretations, including:
Taking Virtual Meeting Lessons to Hybrid Meeting Success
- Live virtual sessions being broadcasted to a live audience, including interactive Q&A and opportunities to virtually network.
- Pre-recorded sessions released to attendees prior to the live conference, and Q&A during the live conference based on viewing the pre-released, on demand sessions.
- Offer “Second Run” live sessions to accommodate international attendees in different time zones.
- Displaying a pre-recorded talk being broadcasted to live attendees, with a
- A blend of highlighted live keynote sessions and pre-recorded content offered throughout an extended period of time.
- A combination of any and all of the above.
The possibilities for a virtual meeting experience seem endless, and they are! Developing a virtual approach to events that aligns with the meeting objectives can be as unique as the organizations we serve.
What’s Next? Meetings Moving Forward The current pandemic is undoubtedly changing the way that in-person meetings will be held moving forward. As we continue organizing meetings in the future, we must consider how social distancing will affect in-person meetings and offer the opportunity to provide a hybrid approach to accommodating attendees and presenters both virtually and in-person. As you begin to consider options for developing a hybrid meeting moving forward, there are many factors that should be discussed with your Board. It may seem overwhelming at first! To begin, I suggest starting discussions in the following areas:
- Onsite Venue Capacity: What is the maximum capacity that the hotel can hold, and has this changed due to social distancing measures put in place by the venue or government regulations? Equally as important, what is the maximum capacity that you or your Board feel comfortable hosting onsite? Do not forget to include food and beverage events in these considerations.
- Virtual Component: Begin discussing virtual options with your audiovisual (AV) provider, including recording and live streaming solutions. Just like we are quickly finding ways to execute flawless meetings during these unprecedented times, many hotels and AV providers are already working together develop affordable solutions to better assist their clients. Ask them!
- Program: How will the hybrid approach affect the schedule of your program? Are there parts of your program that work best in-person or virtual? Furthermore, are there parts of your program that do not allow for proper social distancing, such as networking receptions, exhibit halls or poster sessions? Consider conducting these virtually.
It is hard to predict what the meetings and event industry will look like post COVID-19. What is almost certain is that as hotels begin to welcome us back, a hybrid approach to meetings will likely become a new sort of normal for meetings of all types, from professional scientific meetings to product launches and beyond. Although in-person meetings provide a truly distinctive experience, providing a hybrid component to our meetings moving forward can also open up opportunities to expand the meeting’s impact by reaching a broader audience.
Click here to learn our tips and tricks in our FREE eBook entitled, “Hybrid Meetings in the Era of Social Distancing: Offering an In-Person and Virtual Meeting for Attendees and Presenters”.