Many are accustomed to flying out to a conference. Or they were before COVID-19 reduced air travel. For now, the mingling of many people in hotel conference rooms, flown in from many places, isn’t an option.
Conferences are increasingly being organized online. What this should look like and what changes it implies for professional networks and knowledge-sharing remains to be seen.
But smart design choices can translate into significant gains in the sustainability, accessibility and insights people can gain from conferences in the COVID-19 era and beyond. Online conferencing provides new opportunities to broaden conversations and invite more inclusive feedback.
Pandemic disruptions present an opportunity to rethink how we do conferences: to ask what they are for, who they benefit and how we can improve them, hopefully in ways that permanently reduce the amount of travel we do in a post-pandemic world.