Before Covid I would travel to moderate investment conferences.
Then, everything went virtual.
What’s surprising is that as events open up we are not going back to the way it was. We are seeing a new hybrid model.
I recently moderated from my home in New York two investment panels, one in Lisbon and the other in Milan.
Some of the panelists were also remote, but the majority of attendees were on site.
Aside from the struggle of getting up at 4 a.m., the main challenge was leveraging a variety of technologies.
Zoom provided the core ability to connect, with my image projected on a large screen on stage. In addition, I could see a video feed of both the panelists and the audience.
Evenco, the company which organized the event, leveraged an app, Slido.com, that allowed participants to post questions into a chat room. That way I didn’t have to be present to see attendees raising their hands.
An unexpected benefit was that more people seemed to ask questions when they could do so anonymously. Also, it allowed me to monitor the screen to select the best ones and ask them in an organized manner.
Finally, in a bit of a hack, I connected to the Evenco organizers and technical crew via a Facebook Messenger group chat. That allowed us to communicate behind the scenes about issues of timing and presentation.
Two years ago you would only pipe in someone on a screen if they were a really big wheel. Covid has changed the rules. At the Milan event we had people participating from New York, London, Sydney and Hong Kong.
I think there will be other changes. Virtual hybrid conferences will likely encourage participants to share screens and do live demos.
Most investment conferences follow a standard, antiquated format: someone loads a PowerPoint and painstakingly (and sometimes painfully) walks the audience through the deck.
What many people have experienced in Zoomland is the ease of sharing screens to illustrate key points.
Especially when done on the fly it provides a jolt of excitement.
In 2019, I moderated 8 investment conferences in Europe. Each one required travel. Last year I did 20, almost all of them remote.
It’s not the same to do it remotely, of course.
But what’s becoming clear is that the combination of attending in person while letting some guests and panelists participating remotely can provide a much better experience.