Life Returning to Some Form of Normalcy
It seems that it has been forever since we had meetings, events, and hangouts in person. The last year and a half has been in front of our screens, whether it has been doing online learning, producing events, or live shows on Zoom or Google Meet, and as people are starting to become fully vaccinated, people can finally start to do some of the things that we used to do before the pandemic began, although there might still be some restrictions on specific things.
As In-Person events start to come back, it still does bring up the point, were virtual events effective? I will go over some of the pros and cons of Virtual Events and give my personal experience with things such as online learning, and hangouts, and give my opinion on whether I believe virtual events are better than in-person events are or not.
Pros of Virtual Events
One of the biggest positives that Virtual Events have presented is the fact that we do not have to travel to go to conferences or to hang out with friends. We can go on Zoom, or Google Meet to hang out and get important work done. For me, this has been such a time-saver and this has been one of my favorite things about working virtually because I get to spend time with family and friends while being at home.
Better Networking Opportunities
One of the positives of Virtual Events is the fact that there is potential for better networking companies. According to workcast.com, people are 30% more likely to speak at a virtual conference rather than an in-person one. Removing the in-person experience seems to make people more motivated to attend conferences and network with each other. As we will see later on in this article, networking can also be negatively affected by having an event online.
More People Means More Engagement
Depending on the event, having an event online can actually be more beneficial. For example, being someone who has gone through online schooling for the last year, one of the things that I did not enjoy when I was in-person was the number of distractions, and people talking during live lectures, and I would often get distracted as a result. One positive of online schooling for me has been that I am able to focus, and have had so much more quiet time. This resulted in me becoming more engaged. Furthermore, having a virtual experience means that more people can join your event, depending on what it is. And having more people being engaged is only a positive thing.
What has been great about virtual events is that companies have saved thousands in costs that in-person events would have. For example, The Pokemon International Company celebrated its 25th anniversary in February by hosting a virtual concert, in which the likes of Post Malone, and Katy Perry headlined the event. Now imagine if this concert was held in person. Things such as stadium costs, production costs, selling tickets, and so many more costs would have been in play. However, due to COVID-19, the concert was FREE on YouTube, and the concert was animated as well, which brought a unique aspect to the celebration. This was a win not only for the people involved in making the concert but for the fans as well, as they were able to watch a concert that they would have likely had to pay for, for free on the internet. And I have to say, I enjoy it a lot. Taking a look at smaller companies/events, the same things apply, from a financial standpoint.
Cons of Virtual Events
Although there are several positives to having an event online, there are also some negative aspects of them as well. Here are some of the negatives of hosting a virtual event online.
Takes away the “Wow” Factor
One of the biggest negatives of having an event online is the fact that the “Wow” factor is taken away. One of the best parts of going to an event in person is that being there and enjoying a moment with friends and family is something that you will never forget. That is what makes going out and having fun meaningful in the first place. Once you take away that factor and replace it with Zoom, where communication does not flow as easily, things such as lags and glitches can happen, and the experience can be ruined. So if there is an event that you feel can be executed better in person, you should go for it.
Harder To Hold Someone’s Attention
As many events have been on Zoom and events can go on for extended periods of time, it is easy to lose someone’s attention. Whether it is at a work meeting, or an online class, keeping someone engaged is extremely important. The average attention span for people that are born in Generation Z is around 8 seconds. That is not a lot of time to make sure that your audience is engaged. While some events can be effectively done on virtual hangouts, factors such as the number of people, timing of the event, and content need to really stand out for your target audience if you want to run an online event effectively.
No Face-To-Face Interactions
Building on the fact that the “Wow” factor is removed from hosting a virtual event, some events need face-to-face interactions to make the event much more effective. For example, when attending a networking event, communication is the most important thing. You need to be able to address whoever you are talking to what it is that you want from them and connect in order to build a better professional relationship. Having a networking event online can have several issues. Depending on what event it is, it might be a scenario in which you can only listen in, and not be able to contribute. Additionally, if you are separated into breakout rooms on a platform like Zoom, you may not be able to meet everyone in an event you are attending, and some people may feel that they did not network as much as they would have wanted to.
Additionally, distractions are one of the biggest ways to lose someone in a virtual event. It happens to all of us. The door rings and you have to answer it, you need to use the restroom, etc. The scenarios as to why you need to leave your desk are endless. Leaving your desk is inevitable, and when you return to your desk, you don’t know what is going on, and you are lost. I know I speak for everyone when I say how much I hate getting distracted at a virtual event.
My Personal Experience With Online Events
I wanted to take a small turn and give my take on things such as online school, and online events that I have been to throughout the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, I never really had any virtual events, other than chatting with family from around the country, but again, I never thought about doing school online. Nobody did. When the pandemic started, I immediately learned that I wouldn’t be going back to my campus for the remainder of the semester. Little did I know that I would be home, doing online work, school, and hang out with my friends for the next year and a half. As much as I enjoyed doing online schooling and doing homework assignments with friends, I feel that I will never have a true college experience, and feel that I did not learn as much as I would have if I were in person. Additionally, I lost contact with a lot of people that I had known when I was on campus as well. Needless to say, I am looking forward to going back to campus after almost a year and a half at home.
Additionally, when I have gone to online events, I realized that it was definitely not the same as being in-person. After going to several events that campus clubs were hosting, I decided that it was just not worth it to go to any of the events that my university was doing. Whether that will affect me in the long run is yet to be determined, but hopefully, my experience will be a good one.
Another thing that impacted me since being home was the idea of remote work. The previous summer, I did 2 internships, had a job, and took a summer class. Many companies either canceled their internships over the summer or continued them remotely. I originally had an internship planned, but it got canceled due to COVID. As I started to continue to work at home, thinking about the possibility of working remotely full-time was also something that was of interest to me.
The last thing that I really wanted to touch on was that being home for this period of time has really taught me to explore the world and to appreciate what the world has to offer. Since I got back home from my university in March 2020, I started to watch a show called Hawaii Life, a show which shows the real estate in different parts of Hawaii. Reruns aired on Destination America and I used to watch it every Wednesday. I also watched a show called House Hunters International, which shows real estate from areas all over the world. Watching these TV Shows, and seeing the beauty of the world, made me start to consider the thought of perhaps living in a different country for a short period of time. It has also made me realize that I want to live in a place like Hawaii (but come on, who wouldn’t?). In the future, I plan to study abroad, and live abroad for an extended period of time, and learn more about the different cultures throughout the world.
Are Virtual Events Better than In-Person Events?
So the question of the article is if virtual events online are better than in-person events. While online events have served their purpose, I still believe that going to an event in-person, whether it is school or social activity, it is better to be there face-to-face rather than being on a screen.
And for me, it comes down to the fact of the “wow” factor, and communication. I feel that my communication skills have diminished in quality because of glitches and lags. I started to interrupt people sometimes, and I don’t like doing that. Because I am a nice person, I started to talk less during school meetings, and zoom meetings as well, and oftentimes had my camera turned off as well. You don’t have a camera that you can turn on and off when you are surrounded by people. And I enjoy being with people. As much as I have enjoyed being virtual, it’s time we go back to in-person events.