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Online conferences: 'Can u hear me? Your MIC is on mute

 The least to say is that the event space is in turmoil due to covid-19: strict travel measures trade fairs and conferences are cancelled. The content and format is moved online and we are in a clear transition phase for the moment.

Seems that we are not yet completely there yet in online, mimicking offline experiences in an online world (and it does not match) and at the same time not using to the best the new medium of online in its possibilities to move away from a linear structure to a circular one? 

In a longer term the purpose of exhibitions as a trade fair (meeting people, setting up confidence and business)  will need to be re-evalued, also as a lot of things have moved online.

So here end of October 2020 my stake as a user.

'can u hear me?' 'your mic is still of' 'I will restart the computer'

Invited speakers should not test their audio settings when starting up a conversation;  

solution: the organisation needs to have for example a dedicated breakout room for speakers, that can than join the main stage as required, having made all the technical tests.  and a simple tip when sound etc is not coming: refresh your browser or restart the computer.


And also from existing events: the organisation has it internal channels (with sometimes walky talkies etc); so in online, speakers are using the same channels as the audience;  so a different speaker only channel is important also for th VIPS; at the same time not more other tools should be used, because switching tools on screen can be a difficulty.


next slide'

Screen fatigue vs linear content:  yes we are tired of looking at PowerPoints on the screen.

solution:  provide the content beforehand or scrollable, and really interact with polls for example.


Event professionals are moving online and know how to modulate an event between keynotes, breaks, etc.

solution: a good practice - as online crowds really don't like silence elements-  foresee quiet music or a loop video in between life events, where you can provide also certain general information like when stage restarts, or hashtags etc.  If not, you might loose the participants.

'lost in the spaces'

Navigating between main stage, break out sessions etc, there is still really work to be done.

Mimicking physical events does not work and customers are lost, asking for help on the public chat which does not seem very positive.

solution: like on an e-commerce site, foresee a real chat helpdesk, where staff will help the audience, or have an automated robot in the longer term. also to be included in terms of problems of logging in


'lost in translation'

The  world is diverse, so it is really nice to have sessions in native languages, and not only in English.  It should however be indicated in right way so that users can choose.

solution: yet to be found correct subtitling or choice of translated subtitle


'great panel discussion'

Yes moderators and experts talking to each other.

But, even more than in other periods, we want to be heard! Otherwise a second channel will happen.  And trolling wil start inevitably

solution 1: foresee a real community function - a moderator that listens to the online buzz, questions,  and that than provides questions to the audience.  This return channel is really important, and there is a need not to have a disconnect.

solution 2: in smaller sessions, really present with two together so as to be able to concentrate on presenting, and at same time be able to interact with the discussion thread for example

solution 3: use the poll function: this enables to  panel to find the 'temperature' of the audience, and gives feeling of participants that they are involved.

'choice stress'

Creating parallel sessions , that start and end at different times with no clear information on content : that creates choice stress and fear of missing out

solution: provide 3 times per day a studio like live session where the overall programme is announced, the main takeaways etc (hopefully in  recording available etc.)  5 minutes  - what to expect?    This is as yet not the ideal solution, but can as a transition method help in alleviating this choice stress.

Let's meet!

Sometimes it is possible to get in touch with participants directly, searching for profiles not easy;  than some tools provide a kind of Russian roulette to talk to a random stranger, that is probably not something done in much cultures;

solution: foresee breakout or thematic coffee tables with a connector type of person

And to finish of, it seems that we are still using the most valued asset badly : TIME.  Why is it that this linear principle is still applied?  

I hope the tools will adapt fast in order to  scroll back and forth in a video, allows to jump to the part of your interest or to move ahead fast when you arrive later; enable a pause function, at your pace, and than you can move later; enable a kind of a circular model in the event space all centred around the experience.

Interesting times

(Based on experiences in ZOOM, Twitch, Hopin, Gotomeeting, Homemade platforms)