The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the norm across all industries, including your favorite tech conference. Usually, sponsors, investors, companies, and clients would all converge in a physical space to listen to insightful leaders, find new vendors and investment opportunities, and sell products. However, with lockdown measures, social distancing rules, and travel restrictions, physical conferences are no longer an option.
Fortunately, due to technological innovations, people can still meet virtually. Conferences, like other public events, have changed their mode of operations to continue providing necessary knowledge in these uncertain times. Let’s take a look at how tech conferences are adjusting to Covid-19.
Taking Your Tech Conference Online
Even without traveling, hotel bookings, and face-to-face interactions, the structure of most tech conferences is the same. Experts gather and share information with an interested audience, and people meet and network. While meeting physically has its severe financial costs, it also helps you avoid tricky problems regarding time zones and other scheduling hang-ups.
When planning a virtual tech conference, organizers need to create schedules that accommodate different time zones. For example, hosting two daily speakers for five hours and a Q&A session for one hour, in the end, is ideal for an online conference. Attendees can plan to join the conference from their homes.
However, since live-stream attendance for large groups of people may be challenging, recording the events is ideal. Conference-goers can log in and watch the talks whenever possible during a pre-described time frame- for example, two weeks are sufficient to ensure that all attendees watch the talks and submit questions.
A hybrid approach — one that mixes synchronous (live-stream) and asynchronous (pre-recorded) communication — is also excellent. Organizers can format videos to ensure high-quality audio and video content. They can also attach branding and sponsorship details. After watching the videos, conference-goers can submit the questions online and enjoy a live Q&A session with speakers.
Collaboration when planning any event is the only way to ensure that all operations run smoothly. Since conference organizers cannot meet physically with sponsors and companies, the best way to plan a conference is to use collaboration software.
Digital tools are the best way to keep all organizers informed and updated on recent changes. Slack, for instance, is a popular communication tool for teams. It ensures that all members have access to all direct messages in a channel, which is excellent when trying to catch up. Members can also integrate other applications to share documents on attendance, forecasts, goals, and sponsorship details to save on time.
Consistent and accurate communication among conference stakeholders is beneficial for all virtual conferences. Fortunately, due to collaboration tools, organizers, attendees, and sponsors can access similar information through messages and emails. Sharing a simple Google document, a message on Slack, or a QR code on event pages and social media accounts are easy ways to distribute information. Automatic tools can also save time by sending automatic notifications and updates for the conference.
Communication is also useful for engaging attendees. Organizers can ask the target audiences to share their expectations, upvote their favorite speakers, submit any queries, and also provide suggestions for guest speakers before the event. Creating unique Facebook groups, Slack channels, and Twitter hashtags are also excellent for pushing conversations before and during the conference. Organizers can also create groups with themed discussions, where anyone can hop in and interact. In the end, people can still network online.
Education & Practice
Organizers should also take time to educate and allow practice, especially with online virtual tools. Many stakeholders are new to virtual conferencing and may need significant time to prepare virtual talks. The preparation includes finding the right equipment to host a talk virtually, understand the software and learn how to set up and respond during the conference, how to share screens, link documents and other devices, and display products. The training also applies to attendees since they also need to use software and computers to attend conferences.
Fortunately, numerous online tools support event registration. Organizers can choose between software to find the best tools to help them register attendees and sponsors. Before choosing the software, organizers consider several aspects:
- The information to be collected and processed during the conference. What type of details should organizers seek?
- Whether attendees should pay for the conference as they register. When collecting payment details, organizers also have to consider security to keep personal details safe.
- Whether participants can view the schedules and panels and select the events they’re interested in.
- Group registration and individual registration.
After choosing how to run the registration process, organizers can select the right software. Organizers can also issue specific attendance links or QR codes and track the number of scans to get attendance data.
Online hosting platforms have assumed the role of event venues. The considerations are different, though the goal is the same- to ensure that the venue can support all attendees from any location. The choice of platform depends on the type of conference.
An all-inclusive platform that supports video calls, voice calls, recording, and chats is ideal for online conferences. Clear video and audio are critical, especially for all speakers and operators in company booths. Tools that also allow vast numbers of attendees are great for conferences. Fortunately, since the competition among software developers is high, organizers have multiple choices.
Automatic backups and analytics are also essential, especially for marketers. Real-time analysis can help push ads and promotions in the right spaces during the conference. Artificial intelligence can also boost sentiment analysis to help organizers and speakers direct the conference in the right direction. Chatbots can also enhance customer support during the conference.
Lastly, software that allows integration with many apps is best suited to host a conference. In this way, stakeholders can use the best services from different apps. However, it’s always wise to update the attendees on the software required during different segments of the conference.
The Tech Conference Bottom Line
Planning and attending tech conferences is still possible with the right digital investments. With Ascent, you can access talks and training from leaders in SaaS and interact with startup founders, investors, and B2B customers. For more solutions for virtual conferencing, contact us today.