It's an unworldly time for conference organisers, speakers and delegates right now. But, there again it's an unworldly time for just about everyone worldwide, with very few exceptions. So in the conference industry just about everything has stopped. Last month the mobile industry cancelled the World Congress in Barcelona. At the time it was an outlier for future developments. But thankfully it didn't go ahead. This week the Government postponed the COP26 event planned for November, because of the Covid-19 virus. Something tells me it might not happen at all, but that's a different story. And with all these developments it's obvious. Conference etiquette has changed, perhaps for ever.
That's because whenever we do emerge from this Covid-19 crisis, the conferences will be very different indeed.
Attendance. We can certainly expect that attendance will be different in the future. Attendee numbers might hold up. But people will avoid larger gatherings. Perhaps we can expect more personal space in theatres and auditoriums. That suggests that property owners can expect an unwelcome cost increment. However, what's the alternative?
Activities. Conference etiquette demands registration, business card swapping, breakout sessions, microphone sharing in the audience, coffee breaks, lunches and networking parties. Typically they urge us to mingle and glad hand. Will it happen after Covid-19? Without a known vaccine, perhaps not. And, anyway will people easily drop their own self-isolation tactics?
Exhibition areas. Beyond the conference hall there's also an etiquette that delegates follow. And that entails visiting most if not all the exhibitors. And shaking hands! Sometimes it's a vain quest for the unattainable. But more often than not we find value with contacts, meetings, information swaps and product demonstrations. All in all, these are busy affairs with masses of people at the busy hours. I predict better traffic flow in the future and more consideration of personal space and hygiene.
I expect conferences to bounce back. But smaller operators have undoubtedly suffered and will take a real big financial hit. And whilst we all use video conferencing to great effect in the absence of an office, I'm not convinced that the technology or the applications will displace conferences. There's going to be another conference season soon…but conference etiquette will be very different. Maybe for ever.
When you want to get yourself primed for the next conference season and boost your own conference etiquette, you'll discover plenty of tips right here. Because with more than 100 top public speaking tips on site, there's really something for every event. And, when you want to get ready for your first speech, please don't hesitate to get in touch about some coaching.
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