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Effective Meeting Execution

Virtual Meetings
By Angela Musial, Meeting Manager

There's no doubt the current recession has changed the business communications landscape. With less income on both sides (associations and members), organizations are being smarter and savvier in their choices about how they spend their time and money. This year alone we all saw a significant decrease in meeting attendance, some up to 50%. The standard practice of sending 5-10 people from a given company to an association's annual meeting was thrown out the window. This year we considered ourselves lucky if there was one representative in attendance. While we are hopeful that 2010 will show a brighter forecast, we need to focus on doing more with less and at the same time continue our commitment to quality programming. Virtual meetings have found a home with associations as they provide the immediate access and enhanced communications that our members demand.

Virtual meetings do not have to be a replacement to face-to-face meetings, just the opposite. Virtual meetings should be viewed as an enhancement to face-to-face meetings. Below are just a few examples of the many benefits of offering a virtual meeting in conjunction with your face-to-face meeting.

Benefits of Virtual Meetings to the Association:

  • Increased Attendance (people that could not or would not generally attend now have the opportunity)
  • Reduced costs of the face-to-face meeting (i.e., reduction in food and beverage and printing of on-site materials)
  • Reach More People (broaden the audience base by inviting people who may not be interested in the entire conference content but in pieces of it)
  • Reduction in cancellations (people now have an option and will lean toward the one that will work best, versus register for face-to-face and know they may cancel at the last minute)

Benefits of Virtual Meetings to the Member:

  • Geographic location does not restrict who can attend
  • Eliminate travel time and cost
  • Attendees can often earn CE credits