By Sandy Dubay
Posted on July 7, 2021
Filed under: Blog, COVID Pivoting, Event Planning, Relationship Building

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I did my first in-person speaking event in over a year – here’s what I experienced.

Last week, I spoke at my first in-person conference since March 2020! It was great to get back on stage again and speak in front of a live audience. I also really enjoyed experiencing in-person interactions again and having the shared connection of being in one room together.

The event was held by the Apple Processors Association at The Greenbrier, and I gave a talk on communication post-Covid. I shared trends that developed due to Covid that I believe are here to stay (in new and different ways). This includes how we connect with our customers and stakeholders (both online and in-person), and the need for having an enhanced online presence that may range from expansions of our websites or online stores to how we connect and engage with our audiences on social media.

For almost everyone at the event, this conference was the first in-person conference they’d attended since COVID.

And it definitely was different than pre-COVID in-person events.

For one thing, everyone was a little more cautious and respectful of personal space and boundaries. When seeing a friend or colleague, we’d check in to see if the other person was shaking hands or hugging, versus making any assumptions.

After doing so many presentations on Zoom over the past year, as a speaker, I was reminded about how there are technical differences to consider when presenting in person.

For example, I was using a new slide deck, and I didn’t review it in terms of sharing it at an in-person gathering vs on Zoom. My fonts ended up being a little too small and the contrasting colors were challenging in the live room (with bright lights). I remembered that I needed to think differently about organizing and presenting material on the screen at in-person events.

Overall, my biggest takeaway from the event is that Zoom ultimately can’t replace the value of in-person connection. Every new relationship starts with small talk and that’s easier to happen in a physical room together. (On Zoom, you can’t have a private one-on-one conversation with 30 people watching and listening.)

Over the past year, we’ve probably also tried to share a meal, cup of tea, or a cocktail over Zoom, but it’s a lot better in person. And while shared laughs can definitely happen over Zoom, they aren’t the same! Finally, attending an in-person event gave me a great excuse to put on the heels I haven’t worn in over a year. 🙂

I’m a huge proponent of using Zoom and hosting virtual events. Virtual events provide huge benefits, which include breaking down financial barriers (particularly associated with time and travel). Zoom won’t be going anywhere post-COVID, and I’ll continue to encourage my clients to take advantage of all the many benefits of using this platform.

At the same time, I’m definitely excited for more opportunities to build relationships in-person again.

I’d love to hear – have you attended in-person events or conferences yet? What’s your experience been… or what do you hope it to be?

‘Til next time,
Sandy

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