I’ve heard a few stories lately about organizations changing an upcoming event from a face-to-face meeting to a virtual meeting online. Here’s the thing to keep in mind when contemplating this kind of change:
Changing a face-to-face event to an online-only event is like an athlete changing from running shoes to diving flippers.
You can still go fast but you better be jumping into water right after you put those flippers on. If not, you will do a face plant within seconds.
Virtual events have many strengths but they are fundamentally different kinds of activities than in person meetings. The hallway goes away. The random connections go away. The sense of place is very different. Commitment to being present during the proceedings is much lower.
Sure, social media can help some but it is not the same. Why do you think so many social media people just went to the SXSW conference?
The question to ask is if you can still achieve the same goals of your face-to-face event with an online event? In many cases, you cannot. You’d be better off trying to achieve something completely different online if your in person meeting has to be canceled.