Virtual and non-virtual conferences may differ in some respects but the goals set and pursued by participating sponsors and exhibitors are the same: Getting in touch with their target audience and meeting potential clients. In a virtual environment, this only works once you rethink sponsorships beyond analog trade show booths, which can feel out of place in an online setting.
Virtual conference sessions have become the new normal for many organizers. But of course a virtual conference is not just about the sessions – the social program surrounding them is just as crucial, as it turns the event into a collaborative experience and connects the conference’s individual parts. Finding inspiring ideas, however, often proves to be a difficult task for organizers.
You could get the impression from the current surge of all kinds of online formats that they are interchangeable but webinars and virtual conference aren’t the same thing. Organizers who are not aware of the differences are contributing to a questionable revival of continuous speaker-centered approach – a fatal mistake for any conference.
With the organization of a virtual conference, many organizers are entering completely new territory. The experience gained over many years from the world of face-to-face events suddenly only works to a limited extent or not at all in a digital environment, and advice from the field has been sparse until now. We would like to change that and provide you with a few tips that will help ensure virtual conferences be successful for all.
Conferences are more than just lectures. That was the clear result of a survey we conducted with hundreds of participants of academic conferences and congresses. In response to the question “What makes a successful conference for you?” the aspects “networking” and “meeting new contacts” were each answered with almost the same importance as “gaining new knowledge from lectures.”
Against the backdrop of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, organizers as well as conference-goers had to get used to virtual alternatives. Born out of necessity, many different creative approaches have popped up in the meantime, seemingly overnight.