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20 Reasons Why Virtual Conferences Are the Future

Conferences have long been a staple of the professional calendar. Now, after a recession that has slashed travel expenditure, the landscape for events is changing. Sophisticated digital platforms are enabling virtual environments that simulate the benefits of real events, and attendees are beginning to shift to accessing subject matter experts and industry networking online.

But can the digital environment really displace brick and mortar events, where eye to eye meetings and chance connections can justify the often costly registration fees and travel costs? In organizations where hundreds of executives and professionals attend several conferences a year at $1,000 or more each in total cost, a virtual conference at $500 can be attractive.

Making virtual connections at an online conference may not be an adequate substitute for meeting a key client face to face, but it seems likely that virtual events will complement traditional conferences as organizations need to balance time and resources. Increasingly, virtual platforms are offering value that has never existed in this market. It is less obvious thinking that a virtual environment could be conducive to trade in luxury goods, cars or food, but industries where virtual conferences make sense include:

  • Knowledge industries such as medicine, pharmaceuticals, and high technology
  • Nascent industries where innovation clusters are globally dispersed
  • Digital industries where the product can be delivered via a multimedia format
  • Higher education

We know this potential first hand, being now fully immersed in the organization of SharpBrains’ second annual global and virtual conference focused on health & wellness applications from emerging brain science such as lifelong neuroplasticity.

Here’s what a participant in last year’s conference had to say:

“…Even bet­ter, you don’t have to go any­where!! This is a vir­tual con­fer­ence, so all that you need is a com­puter (you need to be able to run Flash, but if you can watch YouTube videos, you are all set) to attend from the com­fort of your own home or office. I attended the 2010 Sum­mit, and it was remark­ably effec­tive – not only did it save travel expenses and time for me (not to men­tion that it was envi­ron­men­tally respon­si­ble), but it turned out that the vir­tual con­fer­ence had an advan­tage over in-person con­fer­ences in one way. Most peo­ple have had the expe­ri­ence that some of the most valu­able dis­cus­sions at con­fer­ences occur not from the podium but in the hall­way. The vir­tual con­fer­ence soft­ware allows for hall­way con­ver­sa­tions, but the bulk of that con­ver­sa­tion occurs as a pub­lic com­ment stream. Get­ting to hear what many peo­ple are say­ing in the ‘hall­way’ is much bet­ter than hear­ing only one per­son, and if you like what they say, you can send them a note and con­tinue your con­ver­sa­tion as a pri­vate one.”
Here are 20 reasons why you might consider attending a virtual conference:

  1. Less travel time means more time for you at work or with your family
  2. Dip in and out of events without being noticed
  3. No flight delays, passport control or security checks
  4. Juggle work demands with conference attendance
  5. No packing and unpacking and wondering whether your luggage will make it through to the other side
  6. Access all conference materials and audio online for 3 months after the event
  7. Show your boss demonstrable cost savings in straightened times
  8. Connect with a larger and more global audience, many of whom may have not attended due to cost and travel constraints
  9. Preview and review speaker presentations on your PC while listening to other material
  10. Easily locate conference attendees and arrange a conference call, rather than searching hotel lobbies for your clients
  11. No waste of paper on conference brochures/fliers that only go in the bin once home
  12. Save hundreds of thousands of gallons of air fuel because of the aggregate efforts of attendees
  13. Catch up on missed events in the evening or your free time
  14. Learn new skills in managing virtual technologies and online tools
  15. Access the whole event from the comfort of your own home or office
  16. No big hole in your bank balance while you wait for the expenses claim to clear
  17. Use the time you would be travelling to report back to colleagues on the key lessons
  18. Consider the efficient the transfer of information and how that will translate directly to your bottom line
  19. Registration Fees are as much as four times less than a “bricks and mortar” event
  20. No expenditure on hotels and sundries

We hope that your next virtual conference experience is a great one. And, if you/ your organization want to be at the forefront of innovation and brain health and cognitive fitness, please consider joining us on March 30th -April 1st at the SharpBrains Virtual Summit: Retooling Brain Health for the 21st Century.

Dr. Jamie Wilson is the Platform Director of SharpBrains Council for Brain Fitness Innovation.

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