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The recent global economic upheaval has led to the cancellation of many live events. However, adhering to physical distancing guidelines doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on having a live audience, or even postponing live events indefinitely. This is particularly true for multinational corporations (MNCs) who have the means and resources to host virtual conferences powered by smart devices and sophisticated online platforms.
In these uncertain times, a virtual conference could be just what your organization needs to thrive in ‘the new normal.’ Here are 7 distinct reasons for hosting a virtual conference.
By holding a virtual conference, you’re showing customers, competitors, investors, and relevant industry professionals that your organization has a plan to respond to the current crisis. While the way many MNCs run business has changed permanently, maintaining a professional presence allows them to retain their status as authority figures in their respective industries.
Such is the case with computer giant Microsoft, which recently held its Build developer conference online after canceling previous plans to hold the live event in Seattle. Before the event happened in May, the company said this in a press statement:
“The safety of our community is a top priority. In light of the health safety recommendations for Washington State, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build event for developers as a digital event, in lieu of an in-person event. We look forward to bringing together our ecosystem of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect, and code together.”
Apart from bringing together some of the best software developers on the planet, Microsoft also succeeded in showing their clients, customers, investors, and fellows in the computing industry that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
Apart from attracting clients and customers, hosting a virtual conference can put MNCs on the radar of top new talents in tech-related fields, particularly those who’ve devoted years studying how to utilize new digital media to influence public perception. In fact, digital media has been a key point of focus for most graduate and postgraduate degree programs, underscoring how these elements are crucial components in any organization’s efforts to establish a powerful web presence.
Given the rapid development of social media platforms as professional pipelines, widespread fast Internet, and smart devices, it’s no surprise that navigating digital media is being taught at educational institutes now. And by showing these students that your organization can host a virtual conference, you’re also sending the message that your company has a firm grasp of online branding – an attractive quality for well-educated top tech talents weighing up the pros and cons of joining different MNCs.
It’s time to face facts. The so-called new normal will be the planet’s reality for the foreseeable future. Until a permanent solution to the crisis can be found, even MNCs need to adapt to the new conditions of whatever industries they’re involved in. The good news is that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As CloudShare CEO Dr. Zvi Guterman explains, the value of virtual events and conferences lies in their unique benefits.
“The move to virtual events is one that shouldn’t be viewed as just a short-term fix,” explains Guterman, adding that people who attended in-person events in the past have been known to comment on how they could’ve stayed home and watched all of this online. Today, with tools like artificial intelligence-powered captioning, and the fact that virtual conferences allow you to reach fellow professionals through their smart devices, it’s not that difficult to foresee a primarily virtual world where colleagues can interact with ease – which brings us to our next point.
“For larger events, high production quality cameras, as well as factors such as sound and image quality, lighting, the strength of your connection and upload speeds, will help produce a more broadcast-grade stream,” says IBM Watson Media’s head of global product marketing Stacy Nawrocki.
While the logistical requirements of a virtual conference may seem complex even for MNCs, this could simply be due to the fact that not every organization is well versed in doing virtual events. However, the reality is that although it presents new problems to solve, a virtual conference is a lot easier to pull off than a live event, where factors like manpower, security, and other considerations all play a part.
Not only is a virtual conference cheaper and comparatively easier to do than a live one, but it also presents an opportunity to gather unique data and insights. Whichever technologies or platforms you use to hold your virtual conference, your company can have a much more accurate view of the number of attendees, their demographics, which activities are popular and unpopular, and how engaged audiences were throughout each feature or activity.
Again, this data is much easier to gather as compared to live events. Furthermore, having access to this new and unique data will undoubtedly lead to useful, practical insights. This will be helpful not just for fine-tuning virtual events in the future, but also for better understanding the wants and needs of clients and fellows in the industry as well.
There’s almost no limit to what you can do at a virtual conference, and this is where a little creativity goes a long way. Selling ad space and merchandise, or even premium tickets, only scratches the surface of how your company can benefit from virtual events. Your conference can be fully online, or a combination of online conferencing and live events with a limited number of people. The Ohio Valley Virtual Hoop-a-Thon, for instance, collected pledges to fund research to fight Huntington’s Disease by letting participants pick their teams and shoot hoops for them at home.
Meanwhile, at the Great Parks Virtual Day Camp, children and their families were treated to interactive activities via Zoom at home followed by virtual submissions through Flipgrid online classroom. These are not technically virtual conferences per se, but studying recent and unique online events can give you a better preview of the many ways you can do yours. Whichever industries or causes your MNC is involved in, the virtual world offers creative solutions for all.
Read More: The Ultimate 2020 Guide to Hosting a Virtual Conference
About the Author
Reese Jones is a freelance writer from the U.K. who specializes in writing about the latest tech trends and developments in the retail industry. In her free time, she loves attending tech webinars and is always on the lookout for an interesting online class.
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