More and more, virtual events will play an essential role in the development of new strategic narratives. We are still figuring this out.
For instance, a poll by the journal Nature highlights that 74% of their readers think that scientific conferences should continue to be virtual or have a virtual component after the pandemic. The poll also reveals that networking online is tough.
Let’s take a closer look at what this means.
We gather with other people because we want to be in the know. We engage in gossiping because it is a vital activity that helps us forge our own opinion about our environment. As human beings, we do this for a few reasons. Among others:
- We want to align with the ideas commonly accepted by our group.
- There is FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) about the new ideas that will help us thrive and survive in the future.
- If we want to assert our position, we have to influence the group with alternative ideas.
In any case, we do this to create a sense of belonging. As humans, we do this because we make sense of our environment through the consumption of stories.
Now, to hear those stories, we have to congregate in communities. Therefore, communities have a strong tie to a geographical location. When we use the word community, the idea of a place comes to mind almost immediately. We think of a building, a block, a neighborhood, a village, a city, a region, a nation, etc. Before 2020, joining a business community was directly tied to traveling. To go to a conference to meet or reconnect with our community, we had to go places.
I also see communities as the concentration of narratives. This facet is becoming increasingly important to understand since the idea of a community can now go way beyond the geographical aspect. You can meet pretty much anyone, anywhere, at any time. And it’s cheap.
Conferences are critical for the evolution of industries. Just as we go to places of worship, we go to conferences to reaffirm our belief in certain values. That’s where leaders go to share, shape, and amplify new strategic narratives. I used to analyze them as I was visually representing them live.
Since 2020, we don’t travel anymore to conferences. They are all virtual. More and more, the space used by communities is… the screen of our electronic devices. Although they don’t feel the same anymore, even the biggest conferences shifted to a virtual format. That was the case for Dreamforce, the annual event that brings together the entire Salesforce community. That was 170.000 people in 2019.
Now that the pandemic has sparked a wave of innovation for the event planning industry, we should take virtual events seriously to vehicle new ideas and shape new strategies.