At PremC, we have always considered that a face-to-face meeting is the most efficient way for communication.
We believe that virtual events will not replace the traditional in-person conferences but we also believe that the COVID-19 health crisis should not stop the community members from meeting, networking and sharing their knowledge.
So, we need to adapt and find an alternative solution waiting for better times to meet in-person again.
We consider that a successful online event should keep the core values of the in-person conference and keep a maximum of human interactions. To do so, we need to duplicate the same environment as a traditional conference by building a customized webpage standing for the conference lobby with clickable pictures or pieces of graphic design representing the usual conference areas (welcome desk, poster rooms, oral sessions, networking areas…)
KEEP THE SPIRIT OF IN-PERSON CONFERENCE…
A chair to introduce the speaker, a technical chair to call each presenter ahead, video-interactions, and eye-contact between the speakers and the audience.
Possibility to run parallel sessions and the opportunity to switch from a room to another quickly.
Possibility to access all the posters and swap to see each one, a room dedicated to each poster providing video-interaction with the presenter for discussion in one-click on the poster.
Coffee break and Networking
Keep virtual coffee break sessions in several rooms creating small groups to ease networking and encourage interactions via attractive online activities.
A room dedicated to the welcome desk with staff members accessible to all attendees, video and chat support should be provided.
Checking that only registered attendees have access to the conference areas and managing the time-zones issue.
Design of the Dashboard
The solution must be user-friendly and very intuitive.
Choice of the Platform
The selected tool should manage low-quality connexions even for speakers.
Building a communication plan to explain why the conference is switched to virtual will help you make the audience embracing the decision.
After several days of internal discussion and brainstorming, we come up with detailed specifications. Then, during 2 weeks, we have tested a dozen of tools available on the market to reach the following conclusion:
The ‘perfect’ tool does not exist: we did not find any tool that answers all the needs. It was very frustrating because each tool has strengths and weaknesses
Human task force is needed: each provider has designed a tool to match a maximum of event types and to be used autonomously when we believe that each event needs a minimum of customization and most of all staff members with experience of the tool who can help the participants facing technical issues, do the tests with the presenters and come-up with ideas to encourage networking.
The cost matters: some tools cost several thousands of euros per day and per hundred of participants. This is very impacting because the main advantage of the virtual conference should be its attractive cost.
After exploring different tools, participating in several virtual meetings, and based on our experience as a scientific conference organizer, we offer a global solution that takes over all technical tasks in order to enable the researchers to focus only on the scientific content. This solution is answering the specifications mentioned previously and includes:
We provide a project manager who will collect all your conference specifications, build your solution in collaboration with a designer and a web admin, prepare the communication plan, follow-up the project with you…
We provide qualified staff members to support the participants and make the conference as smooth as possible.
We build a customized and user-friendly dashboard that duplicate the in-person conference areas