New Options for Attending Professional Meetings
Over the years I have gone all over the country speaking at national, state and other meetings both for clinical laboratory scientists and others. In fact I just returned from presenting at the CLMA ThinkLab2010 meeting in Las Vegas.
As employers offer less in terms of allowances for education and travel, laboratorians have cut back attendance at national meetings because they have to pay a substantial part of their own expenses, and very often use their own valuable vacation time- in contrast to the old "professional leave" or "seminar attendance" that used to be commonplace years ago.
Presenters and organizers have also started doing business differently. No longer do attendees receive reams of handouts courtesy of presenters or organizers.More common is making presentations available on a website ahead of time and attendees can choose to print out (or follow along on their laptops) those sessions in which they are interested. Some meetings make DVDs and mp3 recordings of presentations available after the fact (sometimes for an additional fee).
Presenters used to tote around presentations on CDs In the early days, I used to take 2 CDs in case on failed!. Now most of us use zip drives or simply access presentations directly from the Internet. Tools like Web 2.0 and Google Docs are common place.
These are not just cost saving measures, but offer many advantages for all stakeholders as well.
There are many advantages to conducting virtual meetings and conferences over the Internet over face-to-face meetings. These include the following:
Reduced travel time and costs. The cost of airfare, hotels, restaurant meals, travel time and incidentals can be eliminated. One meeting in Chicago a few years ago cost me $2100 on a fairly strict budget.
Increased meeting participation. Geographic location does not restrict who can attend meetings. Participation in an online conference, education session or impromptu web meeting can be based on a member's schedule, not their pocket book. For example, an individual may watch a session on their lunch hour and go straight back to work, rather than having to fly all the way across the country and taking several days off from work.
This option might even increase the number of individuals "attending" professional meetings in the future.
Recordings of meetings more widely available.Web conferencing software allows web meetings to be recorded. People who are unable to attend a meeting, conference or presentation can watch the recording at a later time or date. Electronic media memorializes presentations in a more permanent and versatile format than paper handouts.
Taking advantage of web conferencing software. Online conferencing software provides the ability for multiple people to share application software and collaborate in the creation and manipulation of diagrams, text documents and so on. In the future a speaker (or multiple speakers) may not need to attend a meeting physically, but will be beamed in via big screen to attendees who can follow the presentation, ask questions and interact in almost the same way as if the presenter was standing at the front of the room.
Responds to the new economy. Web conferencing technology aligns with the economic trends that include the growth of domestic and international outsourcing, online integration via the Internet and globalization.
Improved quality of life. Because of other commitments, time constraints or lack of financing, many people prefer working from home and avoiding the hassles of out of town travel. Increasingly they will not have to choose between attending a conference and meeting other obligations at home and work. They can do both.
What do you think of this new trend in meetings?