So today’s post is slightly more self-indulgent than you usually expect from Catherine’s Corner.
Recently I chaired an event. But with the covid set up being as it is, this was a virtual event.
Ok, so there are some rant elements to this blog – don’t worry.
My main issue with this set up is the free drinks and canapes. One of the best parts of any networking event is the rolling wine / beer or other drinks coupled with the cute little canapes that you’re not too sure how to eat while holding your drink. This doesn’t really happen in the virtual set up. Yes, I can pour a wine and use that while hosting, but at the end when the event stops you’re just drinking on your own.
So maybe there’s not a solution to the lack of booze with these events, but the lack of one to one chats is also an issue.
But this isn’t the only problem with online events. I wanted to be a good chair – obvs the ego in me wanted to be the best ever – but we will take good. However, with this set up I can only see one other face – the face of the guy I was interviewing. This means I can’t gauge the audience. A good chair reads the room, I could only read the questions coming in on-screen. I’m sure there is tech out there that gives you constant audience updates, but then that becomes another thing to view when you want to concentrate on listening.
I know this sounds negative, but there are definite upsides on the online format of the event. Firstly, it’s the removal of “comment not questions”. These are designed purely for those people who want to feel like they are adding to the debate, but don’t get an invite onto the stage. And if people do ask those questions the chair has the power to not ask them!
The other clear benefit is giving everyone a voice. So often, at events the same few voices re-appear, but the protection of typing questions seem to help more voices chip into the debate.
I think there is a balance to be struck between keeping some of the positives from today’s covid format but with the return to face to face interactions. So much can be learnt in quick one to one conversations and I’d hate to lose that part of life.