What happened in 1974? Where does a hybrid conference occur?
And why should you care about avatars?
Never have meeting planners needed to know more about virtual meetings. Costs for in-person conferences are rising, but attendance isn’t. Both the media and legislators are scrutinizing government meeting expenditures. The White House has directed agencies to cut that spending! Budgets are shrinking and in some cases, requests for meetings are being denied altogether. The time to go virtual is now, and more and more meeting planners know it. But there’s a problem and the problem is what they don’t yet know.
Back in May, I had the pleasure of attending and exhibiting at the SGMP National Conference in New Orleans. I came away from that meeting both inspired and a bit aghast. Inspired by the number of people who talked with me about their plans for virtual-enabled meetings in the coming year. And a bit aghast at the lack of understanding of the basic principles of virtual meetings.
Some planners aren’t even sure what “virtual” really means – just that the word makes them nervous. Others admit they don’t know any of the virtual language, including the maze of cryptic acronyms like SaaS, RTMP or ADA 508. Still others get the terms and the theory, but have no idea how to put it into practice – how do you actually plan, create, and conduct a virtual meeting? Even though half of planners surveyed say they want to implement a virtual event soon, more than half say they have no experience and aren’t even sure where to begin. My conversations with meeting planners have emphasized over and over that what’s really needed now isn’t just finding ways to cut budgets – it’s education.
So we sent out a survey to government meeting planners and associated professionals to get a more evidence-based view of this apparent need for education and tools. More than 60 government professionals responded and the results were striking:
- 84% of the respondents had no or only basic experience with planning and implementing virtual meetings.
- But, at the same time, nearly 60% reported being responsible for planning a virtual meeting or conference within the next 12 months!
Based on the results our next step was clear: to launch an objective, peer-reviewed, ad-free education series on virtual meetings and conferences, open to all government professionals and to others in the meetings industry.
To help meet this critical need, we’ve created a series of interactive workshops through iCohere that covers the fundamentals on webinars, online workshops, web meetings and virtual conferences, both 100% virtual and hybrid. It starts Thursday, July 26 with our introductory webinar:
A Little History and the ABCs of Virtual Meetings
Here’s what that first workshop offers:
A review of how online meetings began and where they are today, including a short history of the Internet and online meetings, the evolution of government meetings, and current trends in virtual events. The meaning of must know terms like Chat, Virtual Tradeshow, and Web Team Meetings versus Webinars. And how to use social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Skype to help build and promote your meetings.
The workshops are only the beginning. We’ve created an entire web site dedicated to providing you with the ongoing learning resources you need to become virtual event savvy and to share your learning with colleagues. Take a look at:
Because it’s all about the learning, every webinar in the series is FREE to government employees, no matter what virtual technology vendor you use. We promise no ads and no promotions (though maybe an occasional pop quiz to help you check what you have been learning).
Join us now and become part of the world’s first learning community dedicated to government virtual meetings.
Lance A. Simon, CGMP
VP Client & Government Solutions
P.S.—And, oh yes:
- In 1974, the term Internet first came into use.
- A hybrid conference occurs both online and in a physical setting at the same time.
- In online communities, an avatar is the stand-in for the user(s) – a visual character created by graphics.