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Is technology changing the role of conferences?

This edition of our ‘venues spotlight’ is written by the iconic EICC. In a world where faster is better and technology is bringing us ever-closer together, the EICC highlights how this impacts the role of conferences...

Traditionally, conferences were unrivalled as the place for sharing ideas and learning from others, providing unique opportunities to disseminate knowledge, network and develop new ideas.

Then, with the help of streaming platforms such as YouTube, conference content was made public.  Reliable internet technology has enabled businesses to connect with peers around the world, providing alternatives to gathering in a single location.

The benefits of technology to conferencing speak for themselves with brands reaping massively from enhanced visibility – to paraphrase TED’s strapline, ideas worth spreading are being spread, more readily than ever before.

So where does this leave traditional conferencing? Here’s five reasons that prove in-person conferencing is more relevant today than ever.

1. The role of conferencing hasn’t changed, even if technology has

Despite the rise of digital conferencing, all events share a common role: to facilitate, teach, share and inspire.

Speed is everything in today’s world of work, so digital ‘attendance’ might seem to make logistical sense.  But there’s a reason why conferences which are made digitally-available are, first and foremost, designed and delivered in-person. The most influential learning, sharing and inspiration plays out between people, not on a screen.

2. Communication begins in person 

Research states that 55% of communication is conveyed through nonverbal elements such as facial expressions, gestures and posture; 38% through vocal elements; and just 7% through actual words.  

According to CEO of charity Linking the World, Mina Chang, “The beauty of communication is found in the nuance that’s only felt in face-to-face conversations.”

In-person meetings also tend to be more productive – almost 30% more so.  According to HubSpot, on average, remote meetings generate 10.43 ideas, while in-person meetings generate 13.36.

3. In-person conferencing has an exclusive and priceless element

Of course, the content and speaker are vital to a successful conference, but to focus exclusively on that would be to miss out on what is arguably more valuable.

We do business with people, not entities. Research indicates that successful managers spend 70% more time networking than their less successful counterparts, so conferences, where like-minded people actively seek to converse, are the perfect environment for forging business relationships. Think of the last one you attended. Was the most memorable person a speaker? Or was it someone you met?  

4. Long-lasting learning

Real personal development happens when you take time out of the office.  The best conferences do for your professional development what travelling does for personal development.  

Conferences help us develop, whether that’s developing our networks, our knowledge or our professional skills.  Considering an organisation’s people are its greatest assets, surely business leaders should actively encourage such development. 

5. In-person conferences are still the ultimate hotbeds of creativity

From an organiser’s perspective the creative potential of conferencing isn’t always the priority – understandable, given the importance of successful on-the-day delivery.

From the perspective of a delegate, however, a conference which facilitates learning, sharing and inspiration, provides opportunities to spark new ideas.  An IBM survey of 1,500 CEOs showed that this creativity is considered the number one factor for business success – even above management, integrity and vision. 

In his TED Talk ‘Can talking to strangers boost creativity?’, David Sturt explains how we all have an ‘inner circle’ in our professional lives – but that real innovation is driven when we converse with people outside of that circle. That could be a colleague, an industry peer.  Or, it could be someone you meet at your next conference.

At the EICC, we frequently see what happens when people come together. We take pride in knowing that, within our walls, ideas are being shared that, once outside, could change the world.

We help organisers integrate effective networking into their conferences as an integral part of the process. Our technology, too, is dedicated to making sure our events are as relevant, accessible and impactful as possible.

You bring the people. We’ll create the environment to encourage world-changing ideas.

If you’re interested in the EICC or looking for a similar venue in a different location, call our Venue Finding Expert Laura on 0161 776 7054 to secure the best rates.

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