Saturday, April 28, 2012

Should You Attend Virtually or Face to Face?

Last week I attended the GMIC 2012 Sustainable Meetings Conference first virtually and then in person. I have talked about those experiences in my past two blog posts. Over the past several days, I have been ruminating over both types of participation and have finally come to some conclusions which might help you decide as well.

Reasons to attend virtually:

  • You are highly interested in the content of the sessions and want to give it your full attention  (much easier without the distraction of other audience members)
  • Work schedule doesn't permit days away from your desk 
  • Economic and environmental savings are high on the priority list 
  • You have the ability to connect with others via social media and don't necessarily have a strong bond with fellow participants 
  • The personal commitments you have require you to stay at home 
  • You may be an introvert and are better served by this forum 

Reasons to attend in person:
  • Sessions are secondary to the networking component 
  • Sales opportunities available in the hallways and during breaks are valuable 
  • More time is available for connection with peers for thought leadership conversations 
  • Economic considerations are not a driving factor 
  • Other face-to-face meetings can be held during the event with fellow participants 
  • Have a strong bond with other participants and are energized by physically spending time together 
  • You may be an extrovert and are better served by this forum 

As a result, I will now have a filter to analyze each opportunity to attend either virtually or in person based on the event itself. Some events will fall into the virtual category for the reasons mentioned. Yet others, like the GMIC conference, are important for me to attend in person--even though I tend to be an introvert.  There is no other event where I return home more energized, more optimistic and more refreshed than when I left.

Just one conversation with the scholarship recipient, Timothy Chen, made all those airline hassles and time constraints disappear from memory.  He is the future of green meetings and will lead the industry toward solutions we haven't even thought of yet.  I was honored to spend time with him.

photo of Nancy Zavada and Timothy Chen

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