10th August, 2020
Millions of us are working and learning remotely during Covid-19. (‘Remotely’, what a scary word for a species that needs contact and touch.) As restrictions lift, I can’t help worrying this ‘business unusual’ could become the new normal. Zoom, Webex, and Google hangouts have replaced the flip chart, projectors and snacks in powering our meetings and brainstorms. Despite the initial novelty of doing meetings in my pyjamas, I believe (and science has proven) that face-to-face interaction is irreplaceable. But I do think that some things have changed forever for conference organisers. It is not just about the safety element, which takes time and effort from us facility operators. We have all become choosier and more selective about where we want to travel and who we want to meet. As businesses resume, meeting and conference attendees will have higher expectations for face-to-face meetings in relation to their safety and overall event experience. Where do all of us at Enashipai see the change?
- Face to face meetings are going to be more carefully curated: The all-important contract negotiation, the highly confidential security briefing or the ground-breaking innovation presentation...
- Content delivery will transition from the traditional keynote addresses to shorter, tighter presentations on a particular issue. Let’s please say a long overdue ‘kwaheri’ to the overly-long PPT being read word for word by the presenter. (Note to presenters..We can all read what’s on the slide!)
- Gone is the era of large gatherings with a flabby agenda. People will only gather for a strong value proposition, facilitated by a themed discussions among an intimate audience. Meeting moderators will need to work harder to run to time and prioritize the critical speakers and decisions.
- Conference conveners will need to think more carefully about who really needs to be there. Do we really need so many people from the same organisation at a conference? They inevitably spend most of the breaks chatting to the same people they see in the office. By reducing the number of people at conferences, might we actually make them far more effective for networking?
- Digital platforms and technology will play an even bigger part in physical meetings, to incorporate people who cannot travel.
- Social distancing will now become mainstreamed as part of social etiquette. (The small upside for me personally will be removing the awkward dilemma of the business ‘hug or handshake’!)
- And it goes without saying that organisers will only be using venues that have dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s on their sanitization policy and health and safety measures.
So I say, the ‘normal’ conference or meeting is dead. But, BRING ON the focused, effective and safe moments that will power our economy and lives.
By: Wanjeri Mahiti - Director, Sales & Marketing.