Oh, so much learning. Some of this I think I already knew, but COVID has made much easier to articulate, and to illustrate to others.
That the content was the hook to get you in the same room with others from your tribe.
Whenever we surveyed delegates about “why they chose to attend” the answer was always “the content”. The reality is deeper than that though. This is obvious now that all of the content is available online, but the delegates aren’t as interested as they used to be.
That tuning into the content without your people around you is not always as appealing.
Part of the joy of going to a conference is talking to the other people there about the ideas that you just saw presented on stage. It is the serendipity of meeting someone who makes you think about something different. it is the opportunities that come out of being in the right place at the right time. You don’t get that when you’re watching from your office.
That online networking is better for some
Some people love the online networking thing. It’s random, you don’t feel awkward breaking into someone else’s conversation, it’s kind of weird, and you can disappear without notice if you feel like it, and everyone will assume your internet died.
That we have limited attention spans when watching screens.
Sure, people looked at their phones when they were at live events too, but if the shot doesn’t change on screen every 7-10 seconds, we have lost interest totally now.
That the flight and the hotel was all part of the experience.
I miss it so much!!! Taking yourself out of your normal, everyday existence was part of why you went. it’s energizing. It’s fun. There are a bunch of other people like you there, people interested in the same things you are. You remember things more clearly if they are in a different context (Can you remember what was said on that last Zoom meeting? And can you remember the conversation you had at that restaurant with those people you met in the hotel bar after the sessions?).
There is no doubt that there will be an element of virtual to all of our events for the foreseeable future – probably forever. But it cannot replace the value of meeting face-to-face. If anything, COVID has taught us the value of what we (used to) do.