In the past few years, there has been a surge in virtual/hybrid conferences. These virtual conferences allow people to gather from all over the world, and sometimes even at the comfort of their own homes, and still have a productive conference that allows people to connect with each other while not feeling disconnected or cut off from others.
Additionally, remote participants/attendees can watch presentations at times that are convenient for them instead of waiting until evening when most people are free (for face to face events).
Furthermore, online audiences tend to ask more questions during sessions, which can drive additional discussions between speakers and other attendees/ participants from the virtual conference.
But who are some of the organizations and companies that have been hosting great virtual conferences? Let's look at a few of them:
The US Congress has been hosting an annual virtual conference for the past few years. These conferences have allowed people to interact with Congress members, ask questions, and express their opinions in a moderated environment.
The White House has also hosted its own virtual town hall meetings where people are able to watch live-streamed activities at the White House while being able to send in their questions and get answers.
In 2002, the WHO officially recognized "Health and Related Product Virtual Conferences" as a legitimate form of communication when it comes to connecting with potential customers (that would be us).
WHO has been hosting video conferences with many experts from around the world to discuss certain topics that are of interest to them. They have also had live-streamed sessions where people are able to ask questions and get answers for issues that are affecting their lives.
Additionally, WHO has also organized webinars on various health topics so that more people can become aware of health conditions that are prevalent in the world.
The NSA often uses technology to help educate people about their work and the importance of their mission. They offer virtual tours of facilities so that more members of the public can see what they do in an effort to increase transparency.
This is also a way for them to inspire young people by showing how much fun it is to work at the NSA. These virtual events vary in topic and can be found on their website.
Google offers virtual tours of their facilities through Google+ Hangouts. These are different from the daily hangouts that most people are familiar with because they offer one on one engagement between participants and Google employees/executives.
The goal is to use technology to give more people access to information about how some of their favourite products are made. Through these virtual conferences, Google is also able to track what people are interested in so that they can better curate content and design future products.
As a technology company that creates products for both consumers and businesses, it only makes sense that HP offers virtual conferences for their customers.
Their product management team travels across the world teaching people hands-on lessons about how their printers, computers and other technological products work. These events allow customers to get closer to HP because they get to learn about what is new in the company without having to leave their homes.
Microsoft offers virtual conferences on a variety of technology-related topics through their IT Pro Evangelist team. They are aimed at IT professionals who have experience with Microsoft products because the events are intended to educate them further about their expertise.
Some of the topics include branding, marketing and cloud computing.
Participants can attend live or record sessions to watch them at a later time and share the information with co-workers and other professionals.
Informatica Corporation has hosted numerous virtual conferences and workshops with the purpose of educating its audience about its services and software.
At one recent event, over 2,500 participants joined via live streaming to listen and ask questions to presenters who discussed topics including strategies for managing data across physical and cloud environments; how leading organizations are using data integration to drive business agility; as well as best practices for building a trusted data foundation.
Informatica also hosts webinars that focus on specific problems or topics related to integrating data from many sources. They provide a recording of each presentation along with external links that can be used by attendees/participants after the meeting is completed.
Amazon hosts live "Virtual Author Events" where authors can share their work and answer questions from online audiences. Authors can share insights about their books, talk about why they became writers and answer questions from anyone who has purchased the book or is reading it.
This event also provides authors with an opportunity to receive feedback from readers instead of just potential buyers.
People who attend these virtual events are often very dedicated fans of the author which means that this type of live streaming conference works best when inviting people that already have a relationship with the presenter/author.
IBM holds virtual conferences every quarter. They offer remotely accessible presentations to everyone who signs up for these virtual events.
These quarterly webinars are also archived, so if participants can't make it to the live event, they can always access them in the future.
The topics include social business, analytics, Cloud computing and more.
The MLA hosts virtual conferences periodically. These conferences offer a way for teachers to connect with other educators from around the world and discuss teaching ideas/strategies, pedagogy and share materials.
They also serve as a means of encouraging collaboration between English professors across different campuses.
Starbucks is always looking for ways to add value to its products and services. In 2010 they added online meetings with executive-level employees as a value-add to their premium, high-priced coffee.
This is not an ordinary virtual meeting experience, however, as the webinars are run by trained baristas and focus on topics such as best practices for building community with your local Starbucks. They also offer tactical instruction on how to make the perfect latte.
Each organization listed offers a different reason for hosting virtual events. They also vary in style, format and length. Some focus more on expanding awareness of global issues while others use the conferences as a way to inspire young professionals or offer up tactical teaching strategies which allow teachers from around the world to collaborate/learn from each other.
This is a good time for companies big and small to consider how they might be able to host a virtual conference for their customers/clients- not only as a way to bring additional value to an existing product/service but also as a way of increasing brand awareness by promoting trust and thought leadership.
There are lots of different ways that you can go about hosting a virtual event and it's worth doing some research to find out if this is the right medium for your company.