In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and the social distancing response enacted in most countries around the world, many conferences and meetings have had to be postponed, cancelled or radically adjusted. However, in many cases, those conferences still need to go ahead. While you perhaps can’t take advantage of a beautiful Phuket conference venue right now, you still need to exchange words and views with peers and experts. So how? Here are a few tips for running online conferences.
Work with web-streaming professionals
Fortunately, the technology for online conferences has already existed for some years now, in the form of web-streaming. You are going to need to get in touch with experts in this field and the field of audio-visual technology generally in order to set up the required services to broadcast your discussions to an audience of thousands. You can’t just get everyone on a Skype chat because the internet bandwidth required will almost certainly make it impossible to hear or see anyone and the audience failing to turn off their cameras and microphones will almost certainly drown out important messages with background noise.
Test your set-up well before the event
It’s already a staple of even small-scale teleconference meetings that the first five minutes of the discussion is taken up with trying to figure out how to get the audio to work properly, with the other 55 minutes spent fighting against a 20-second lag between when someone in a remote office speaks and when they are actually heard. Be sure to text your system at least a day in advance to ensure that everything is working and to optimise its performance.
Have a plan for in-person interactions
One of the main benefits of using a Phuket conference venue is that everyone is in the same room, so in-person interactions are very easy. Trying to replicate that experience online is very challenging. Imagine a Q&A session, for example: how are people going to let you know that they have a question to ask the panel? How are they going to ask it in such a way that everyone else can hear it? How do you avoid individual questions being lost in the crowd of thousands of questions and comments all arriving at once? Fortunately, systems do exist to enable and handle this, with one of the better examples being Sli.do. Be sure to investigate the options available and pick the one that is best for you while also being convenient for your audience.
You don’t have to hire a Phuket conference venue or pay for catering, security, printing and all of the other costs of a live conference, so your event should be extremely cheap, right? Well, probably not. Setting up an online conference may end up being more expensive, especially if you want it done well. High-quality A/V equipment is not cheap. While you would ordinarily be renting it from the venue, you will now have to buy it to install at home instead – and possibly also at the homes of your panelists. On the bright side, future events will be cheaper and easier now that you’ve got the gear installed.