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The avalanche of online webinars and virtual conferences, which ones if any are worth your time?

When reality hits; after your time and dollars are spent and the value has not been realized!

The spread of the coronavirus has caused several conferences to be canceled, likely resulting in numerous missed partnership and networking opportunities.

Online alternatives have helped limit the fallout from canceled conferences, but most industries will likely still suffer a period of stifled innovation due to forgone in-person business opportunities.

Conference attendees are attempting to use online services to network via live streaming as they did by attending in-person events.

The pandemic disturbed the work of event organizers everywhere. To slow the spread of this highly contagious virus, conferences that tend to host thousands of people in person faced a choice, move entirely online, or cancel altogether. Many open-source event organizers chose the latter, but not all of them.

Moving community events online, tries to keep communities and groups connected and inclusive, because virtual events allow anyone, anywhere in the world to attend the summits and sessions that are most relevant to them, on their own schedules.

Web conferencing became available to the public in 1996. Webinar software followed shortly after and enabled several users to host and present to hundreds or even thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Webinars; There are a few Advantages and more Disadvantages.

Webinars can be an outstanding training and collaboration tool. When it first came along, the webinar seemed like such a good idea. Employees could take training classes online and a sales team could pitch a proposal to a client without having to travel. Although there are some advantages to be gained by replacing face-to-face meetings with webinars, there are also disadvantages to using webinars.

Diverse Audience - Distance is not a big deal with webinars. No matter where your workforce is, you can offer webinar training without having to be physically together. This means there will be a diverse range of attendees from all over the world.

Flexibility - Webinars tend to be far more flexible. Attendees can log on at any time, from any computer. There is no need to set aside extra training space, and you don’t have to ask your employees to devote time or resources to training during the workday.

Live online events decrease s the costs of time and money that prevent many from attending in person. Many virtual equivalents of in-person events are being offered at drastically reduced costs, if not for free. That cost reduction in tickets, coupled with not needing to spend money on flights and hotels, goes a long way towards increasing access.

Some of us still cannot help feeling the absence of in-person events for the foreseeable future year is a loss.

The opportunity and time to meet in person, celebrate achievements, decide on new visions for our projects, and socialize is crucial. It plays a key role in bridging the distance gap by helping us put names to faces and getting to know each other., people interacting with each other and sharing ideas, this is something that cannot be replicated on line or virtually, as people are very social beings.

Now add to the mix, lack of human interactions, slow internet, with an old computer, a house full of kids and other distractions, you’ve got yourself a nightmare situation.

Not only are technical limitations an issue but, as said earlier, work relationships don’t bud at all when you are meeting each other on the screen, strictly talking about business, listening to others speak and answer canned, or scripted questions delivered by a moderator.

In today’s day and age, relationships are becoming more and more shallow, with no depth. Virtual meeting and social distancing add to the current environment that makes people feel even more alone. Talking with coworkers and building relationships no matter how intimidating or aggravating as it may sound it is still important. And with online conference calls it’s becoming increasingly scarce all together.

No matter what great technological inventions we have today or will appear tomorrow, we will always be losing something, the key ingredient is social integration and involvement. We are seeing friendships made in the past, becoming more distant, frustrating internet connections, annoying us as we try to stay connected. It ultimately comes down to the individual to decide what they want to endure, avoid, lose, grow or protect!

The real difference comes from the Disadvantages of Webinars

While webinars can bring a group of people from different geography together, there are some significant disadvantages to this type of technology and human interactions.

A considerable lack of interactions between the participators, attendees and the presenter. Since everything is conducted online, there is just audio-visual interaction lacking physical interaction. There are limited opportunities to ask questions and solicit feedback. Attendees also face multiple levels of technical difficulties, there is a risk that the presenter’s time on screen is interfered with due to technical difficulties. Since in which the audience views an audiovisual presentation on their individual computers with different operating systems and internet connections, opportunities for technical problems are virtually limitless.

No interactive Teamwork – this is essential part of any conference and seminar. Working as a team adds value to the task everybody is involved in. Sadly, webinars almost completely cut this aspect since everything is virtual with limited or no opportunities to interact.

You have limited or no idea on participant acceptance or understanding by a Lack of Body Language, this critical human interface is missing from virtually any web-based seminars. There is no clapping, standing ovations, or handshakes which leads to lack of enthusiasm. Attendees could be on their bed wearing pajamas while attending a webinar.

Lack of Environmental Control - The presenter has no control over the environment, contrary to a live setting where they have full control of everything. They cannot ensure that there will be no interruptions or distractions of sorts which leads to a lack of focus.

The myths of Lead Generation from online conferences and webinars

Numerous attendees sign up and pay to attend conferences and webinars with the hope of making connections and expanding their network, in reality, only the host has access to the attendee data and typical do not share. Even if you share there was no face to fact contact and a follow-up is not really a warm call.

Network building by attending an online conference or webinar is not a realize benefit, in most cases, it is a costs center and lost opportunity costs to your business.

More importantly we are seeing online conference and webinars as a forum of talking heads, promoting their products and services and not going into the details of what they did. I am yet to see where presenters and speakers explain how they did it, in such a manner that is an actionable takeaway for attendees. It is

easy to exemplify and sell the positives of what your organization is doing, but most attendees invariably have nothing tangible as takeaway.

Webinars can be valuable when they are offered and consumed under the right circumstances. They can be an excellent alternative to face-to-face seminar sessions, even being the optimum and a very cost-effective solution for learning objectives. They are particularly effective for subjects that can be taught through relatively short presentations and not for themes that require long explanations or substantial discussions and groupwork.

Webinars should be used for helping organizations and individuals through teaching on-demand ‘how to’ skills related to using a certain technology, new processes, or for conveying the details of what steps were taken to resolve a problem. In order to make webinars work, both the facilitator and the participants need to put some extra effort to make the overall experience worthwhile.

The hippo in the room, is paying to attend an online conference and webinar worth it?

Is it worth the expense?

Is your time away from doing your job and making $$ worth it?

Is there value in the little or no actionable take-away other than to hear presenters and speakers promote their products and services or tell you what you should be doing, while selling the virtues of their company?

Ask you self the above questions before you decide to spend your limited funds, expensive time and effort. (include the lost opportunity costs to your business by your absence during the conference)

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Dave Gajadhar is an Advisor, Speaker, Educator, and an Advocate for Human prosperity and resource optimization at Resultant Group, business modernization, waste mitigation. Supply chain integration and transition advisors.

Phone: (780) 483-4800

e-mail or contact through

Twitter: @dgajadar.

At ResultantGroup, we help companies in finding what matters to each of your stakeholders, active participants and clients across your value chain. This enables your organization to optimize resources, monetize excess material and enable your sustainability reporting to convey the business’ unique story reflecting how your business is genuinely managed in a shared, circular economy and demand driven.

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