Online Events and Conferences - What might make them great?

Curious to hear about other people’s experiences with online events. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but it is extremely unlikely that in person events will be possible anywhere in the world in any meaningful way in next 12 months at least. At least.

We’ve been thinking about what we can do as event producers to create valuable and meaningful experiences that go beyond putting a few speaker talks up.

I’ve made some notes here on our thoughts but would love to hear from people about their own experiences - what you like and why, what you hate and why.

What would your perfect online event look like?

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I run Business of Software Conference USA and Europe in case you don’t know by the way.

Ah jeez, that’s a sobering assessment, Mark. I wish you and the BoS team the best of luck in weathering this crisis.

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We will find a way to get through this I hope. We’re lucky to have been around for a while and have been serving a great community of people, many of whom have been in touch to see how they can help which is great. I do think it is very important however, for us all to hope for the best and plan for the worst. TBH, while we are almost all still in lockdown, it is lovely to think that there will be a magical moment when we aren’t and everything is back to normal. This is wishful thinking at best. Even when governments change their approaches, there will be a very significant lag to a point where sentiment about travel, international travel etc, returns.

Our complete focus at the moment is to build things that support the community in a meaningful way for them and for us. I truly believe there are some massive opportunities online that we can focus our effort on in the short term. When the world returns to something approaching normality, the physical events will be an easy addition.

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I think it is hard to replicate the ‘hallway track’ in online events - where you just start speaking to a stranger. These are often the most valuable parts of an event.

I think you are probably right. Even as the lockdown eases, why risk all the effort and expense of planning an event when it might get cancelled? Which is not great news for sales!

I thought so too though interestingly, having run the European conference online, I was very surprised how well some of the the hallway track networking went, we ran a few different models and for many people, particularly those who self-identified as introverted, this worked much better than we had expected. Definitely things we would change and things we would do more/less of but I think the biggest changes next time round will be on the content and delivery side as well as being more flexible with format. For example, use the time when everyone is in one online space to focus on discussion, Q&A etc and make some of the more substantive talk parts available pre-event so people can consume in advance and at their convenience.