What Virtual Conferences Can Do For You

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What Virtual Conferences Can Do For You

Media reports claim that virtual conferences are on the rise, and by 2015 they may pull in over $18 billion dollars - despite the fact that in 2010, they made almost nothing. One of the most popular and earliest incarnations of the virtual conference was Ted Talks. Filmed live and broadcasted to the world, these talks covered a variety of subjects related to technology and science and became hugely popular. Other mediums allow for software manufacturers or other product manufacturers to demonstrate their capabilities online.  More than that, it has opened the door for companies to conduct business meetings remotely.

There are complaints about virtual conferences and potential downsides that they have. The most common argument is that virtual conferences make a poor replacement for face to face interaction.  There’s something about being in a room with someone that allows you to get a better sense of their feelings, emotions and reactions which can’t be completely duplicated in an online world. Along with that, some feel that the lack of actual face to face interaction causes a greater difficulty in holding the attention of potential viewers; it seems easier to become distracted during a virtual conference than a seminar in person.  

However, the general feeling is that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.  As a conference participant or member of management, here are some reasons why you should look into virtual conferences:

You can increase participation 

While traditionally employees may be reluctant to travel to meetings because of the time commitment and hassle, with virtual conferences the participants can meet from the comfort of their offices, homes or favourite work locations. It makes meetings easier than ever and for the most part more enjoyable. It also requires a much smaller time commitment from those participating.

You can eliminate travel costs

One of the drawbacks to traditional conferences, particularly for national and international companies, is travel expense. To get all of your employees or conference participants together, you have to have them in a central location. This usually means flights across states or countries to gather all interested parties together. With the advent of virtual conferences those costs can now be eliminated by using technology to bring conference participants together.  

You can increase productivity and efficiency

Because you no longer have the need to spend time traveling, preparing conference rooms, and gathering in expensive hotels, you can use that time instead more wisely, doing what it is that you do best. Sometimes you’ll have meetings that require immediate action and you don’t have time to fly in the relevant parties to set up a meeting to discuss them. Sometimes it’s important to have representatives from various geographical locations united together for meetings and the best way to do that these days is virtually.

You can record meetings  

Gone are the days of having to take minutes or jot down notes. With the ability to record virtual meetings digitally, all of the relevant details can be captured and stored for later use. This makes communication easier, not only for those who missed the meeting (and can now easily review the salient points), but also for those who discussed important agendas and shared vital pieces of information in the meeting. Instead of having to write down the important bits, or save them in your head for later recollection, now you can easily save meeting data on a flash drive and bring it up when you need it.

Despite minor drawbacks, considering the benefits offered it seems likely that virtual conferences will become an important communication tool for many businesses in the future.


Jonas Overton is a career counsellor in Seattle and is a heavy proponent of using web based project management in one’s work.   

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