2020 has been a year that has required us to pivot, adapt and constantly find ways to connect outside of traditional tradeshows and networking events. Earlier this month, Informa held their first ever Virtual Engineering Week, which ran from November 30th to December 4th. The week was full of exhibitors, keynote speeches, panel discussions, and live Q&A sessions.
Throughout the year, with the lack of tradeshows, we’ve seen an increase in industry webinars. Where this week-long event differed was the mix of speakers and topics showcased. A full week really allowed attendees to pick and choose what topics and times were most appropriate for them. In this sense, it felt like a traditional tradeshow—multiple days, packed with educational content that gave attendees an opportunity to learn in an environment outside of their norm. Virtual Engineering Week, smartly, made presentations a digestible length, which encouraged viewers to step away from their meetings, email, and day to day, to tune in for a half hour.
Just like a traditional in-person event, it was on the attendee to make the most of the week. Attendees had the opportunity to schedule meetings and chat with others. Virtual events have struggled to close the gap of dedicated focus and appropriate meet-up space or even networking. Informa provided a space to facilitate introductions through live chat and other virtual discussion features … but at the end of the day, it was still up to each attendee to take the action.
As we head into 2021, it is likely that Virtual Engineering Week will be one of many online events for our industry. We’ll need to set aside time for these events, just like we would for a traditional tradeshow.