A View From the Podium: Presenting at a Virtual Show
While virtual shows enable attendees to save travel dollars and time, conference presenters reap the same benefits. It also serves as an effective way in which to get their messages across to an interested audience.
Scott Gidley, CTO and co-founder of DataFlux, was a speaker last November at the DAMA-NCR Wilshire Virtual Symposium. He says getting ready for his presentation was no different than an in-person show, yet the travel component was vastly different. “We had a presentation to give, just like we would at a real-world show,” says Gidley. “We didn’t have to worry about shipping a booth, getting travel arrangements, and finding time to get away from the office. So, from a cost and a time perspective, it was obviously different.”
For a speaker, virtual shows certainly provide a less intimidating platform on which to speak compared to the podium placed in front of room full of people. However, Gidley notes that when you’re not in the same room as your audience, you don’t really know if you’re engaging your audience or if they’re even receiving your message.
“Not being able to see the nonverbal cues, such as eye contact, heads nodding, note taking, is always difficult,” says Gidley. “At a real-world show, you know if you are connecting with the audience. At a virtual one, you don’t know if the attendee is actively listening and taking notes or just passively listening and playing solitaire or checking emails.”
Gidley says that he has received positive feedback from attendees. He feels that most people will take an hour out of their day to learn about a new technological offering if it doesn’t mean they have to leave their desks to do so.
However, Gidley says that if he could change one thing about the format it would be to enable attendees to interact with speakers throughout a presentation and not reserve that communication for the postpresentation Q&A session. “It doesn’t have to be a formal Q&A session, but the audience could use opportunities to say, ‘Wait a minute. You lost me at the last slide. What are you really trying to say?’” explains Gidley.
Like virtual show hosts, Gidley says that he will continue to support such events. “We won’t be replacing our physical trade show calendar with a virtual one, but we do see it as another way to get in front of interested people,” he says.
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