Customer Counseling: Hybrid is Happening
Tijl De Bie, researcher at Ghent University in Belgium, hosted the European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice Knowledge Discovery in Databases (ECML-PKDD) 2020 Conference. After working with SlidesLive, he’s here to offer some insight on going virtual.
ECML-PKDD is the premier European machine learning and data mining conference. The conference builds upon over 18 years of successful events and conferences held across Europe. As part of such a large history of events, Tijl discusses favorite components of a virtual event with SlidesLive as well as some of his concerns throughout.
“My favorite features include the interface that allows you to see the speaker and slides simultaneously at the sizes you want (which is especially important when conferences are virtual) and the ability to naturally browse presentations,” Tijl said.
But in order for Tijl’s favorite features to come to life, the SlidesLive team must make sure that clear communication is made with the event’s speakers.
“One of my biggest fears was communication with speakers and making sure that they record their talk properly and in time, which was stressful as we only knew at the end of the process if it was too late to fix things,” Tijl added.
As stressful as it may be watching the event come together, the cohesive and visually appealing end product is always worth the hard work and cooperation it took to arrive there. Tijl also voiced his concerns regarding the transition from in-person to virtual events.
“Everything became different,” Tijl said. “The main challenge is putting mechanisms in place that preserve some of the engagement that is important in conferences.”
As time passes and we experience various virtual events, it becomes more clear that some of most missed in-person features are engagement and interaction. SlidesLive offers different ways to confront this issue, like adding an online exhibitor hall or smaller virtual rooms within the event, making networking more possible in the virtual world.
Tijl also addresses the timeline of planning a virtual event. When events are online, organizers tend to push off deadlines thinking that they can be dealt with later. Tijl warns planners of this, offering some of his own advice when it comes to the issue.
“Expand timelines,” Tijl advises. “This is counterintuitive: you might think that for a virtual event, no venues are needed, no catering is needed, and hence you can leave things (registration deadlines, paper notifications) until later. But the opposite is true, as so much more needs to be prepared (not in the least presentation pre-recording).”
With that warning, Tijl includes his thoughts on the future of the event industry. COVID-19 has definitely brought challenges to the industry, but those challenges have resulted in innovative solutions that can be used far in the future.
“The industry is moving towards hybrid events, not only due to COVID but also due to lack of willingness to travel (including for climate concerns, financial concerns, etc),” Tijl said. “Fully virtual is not here to stay, in my opinion. After COVID, physical events will return as they are too important for networking etc., but always with a virtual component.”
Only time will tell where the event industry is heading, but we can prepare for the future by implementing new practices and adjusting to the virtual environment that we’ve been placed in. Hear from another event planner or check out some of our other posts for helpful tips and tricks. SlidesLive is here for the future of events.