First, I would like to talk about a personal experience, that I faced last year. I was supposed to attend a conference in Zurich in March called Voxxed Days, due to the fact that the company I work for, was a sponsor. But by the time spring rolled around, the organizers postponed the conference to September 2020. Later, we got an email, that the conference was cancelled due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to rethink virtual conferences. I feel now, that virtual meetings become the norm. And as more meetings move online – a trend likely to continue even after the pandemic fades. These virtual meetings or conferences have some advantages and disadvantages, that we are gonna talk about.
Online meetings might lack many of the benefits of an in-person conference: conversations over dinner; the after-conference party; face-to-face networking; fresh perspectives that can come from simply leaving one’s home ground.
We all know that networking plays a big role by physical conferences
The ability to speak to the speakers or attendees. Although some organisers are trying to replicate as much as they can through online events, that intangible element of being energised around others is much harder to capture when people aren’t physically gathered.
Meeting online, whether it’s for a conference, study section, or worldwide lab gathering, works better than expected, and it’s more convenient and affordable due to some factors like missing the in-person stuff – dinners, drinks, which affect the conference’s ticket. Another benefit of meeting virtually is how many more people can access the conferences. The high cost of travel costs, border restrictions will be eliminated from the equation, when it comes to virtual meetings or conferences. Not everyone can travel. Certainly, not everyone should. Many of us, particularly in the Global North, need to travel much less.
Being and working together, particularly in smaller workshop settings, is an invaluable way to generate new ideas and connections in many fields and professional settings. For this purpose, our company N47 started to organize webinars. The first one was held on the 10th of December 2020.
The second one will be held on the 11th of March 2021. It is better to have a look at this webinars and stay tuned for new webinars.
In the end, I would like to share some thoughts regarding this topic. I think these changes that were done due to Covid, will stay with us. However, I do not expect online conferences to run perfectly, especially when the conversion to online was unexpected and hastily planned. The future of conferences and meeting has evolved becoming more accessible and more inclusive. But, what about physical conferences, when they return. For me, I hope that physical conferences return as fast as possible due to many things that were mentioned in the disadvantages of virtual conferences.