It’s been eight months since the COVID-19 Pandemic began and people are itching to get back to normal, or at the very least a “new normal”. While technology in 2020 gives us far more flexibility to stay connected to our colleagues, clients, and peers from a remote perspective – webinars, virtual conferences, and virtual meetups can only go so far to satisfy our need to connect as humans. WRAL TechWire recently interviewed five of NC’s largest networking groups and member organizations, including DesignHammer client CED (Council for Entrepreneurial Development), to see how the professional world feels about the future of in-person events.
As a Strategic Partner of CED, DesignHammer team members have been a regular staple at CED virtual events since the pandemic started; including CED’s largest networking event Venture Connect. Venture Connect was originally scheduled to take place March 17–19, but was moved to a virtual environment the following month.
One of CED’s Virtual Network Meetups that we attended was hosted on Remo, a newer virtual conferencing platform. Their networking meeting format was engaging and the platform seemed user-friendly enough; which were the two elements needed to produce a positive virtual user experience overall. CED has hosted multiple events since then so it is clear they have been able to adapt their operational strategy to keep members engaged despite the physical limitations.
In the WRAL TechWire article, CED admitted they did have a small percentage of partners ready to return to live and in-person events but not the majority — so events will continue to be hosted in a virtual format (including Venture Connect 2021) for the foreseeable future.
For organizations continuing to host online events, CED provided WRAL TechWire with a few recommendations:
- Try to keep content to 45 minutes or less or add breaks during events to keep the audience’s attention.
- Be wary of platforms in Beta Mode and be sure to execute a trial run with presenters and sponsors ahead of the official event.
- Keep the conference format engaging and give participants adequate time to network.
As more and more organizations lean towards shifting to a virtual model both for now and into the future, DesignHammer has begun to talk to clients about ways that we can leverage virtual meeting services and other social technologies into their existing platforms.