The COVID-19 crisis has killed large in-person events for the foreseeable future. Due to the higher spread risk of large crowds, large conferences and events will be one of the last businesses to “return to normal.”
Until we have a vaccine developed for COVID-19, the virus will prevent meeting planners from holding events such as in-person conferences and product launches.
Thus, events have moved online, creating an opening for the world’s top virtual keynote speakers.
Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, made a stunning admission that 36% of the company’s 50,000 employees are experiencing mental health challenges during the COVID pandemic. That’s frightening. And Salesforce is a company that is doing well and seeing its business grow during the pandemic. Think about how widespread mental health issues – like fear, anxiety, and depression – are in the wider population that face greater financial uncertainty compared to Salesforce employees.
Before the pandemic, a third, or more than 30%, of American adults admitted that they would have problems coping with an unexpected expense of $400. A staggering 46% of Canadians are $200 or less away from financial insolvency according to CBC reports.
With the COVID crisis causing many companies to lay off employees, temporarily close and, in some cases, go bankrupt, financial uncertainty, anxiety and fear loom large for employees everywhere.
Now is the time when companies and organizations need MORE communication with employees, not less. Because there is so much fear, uncertainty and doubt – (see discussion on VUCA) – companies need to communicate with their employees, partners, and suppliers more than ever before. Training and development are essential.
In fact, virtual events have never been more important than now. People still need to learn and be inspired, and executives still need to lead strategic planning sessions with their teams.
The need for virtual conferences, virtual training, and virtual strategic planning sessions with executive teams and boards of directors has never been greater. For meeting planners, this means the challenge is to find the best virtual conference speakers, because creating the best outcomes for your online event is much different than the necessary criteria for traditional in-person events. We have kissed those events goodbye for the foreseeable future.
Jim Harris has always been on the leading edge of new event approaches. Jim had agreed to speak at an association’s in-person meeting, but then the Coronavirus hit North America and all large events and air travel was canceled. The association initially thought to postpone the event till 2021. However, Jim argued that members needed help pivoting more than ever before. And that if the association didn’t put on any events for a year, then why would individuals renew their membership the following year. The association agreed and hosted its first ever virtual event to rave reviews. They then decided to have two more. The first event drew 253; the second 377 and the third 477. Virtual can work and work BIG – especially with a world class virtual presenter headlining your event.
With more than 30 years experience as an in-person and virtual conference speaker,
Jim is a global thought leader on disruptive innovation. The COVID crisis has disrupted most businesses but has hit the meeting planning industry especially hard. How can your company pivot and thrive in this time of uncertainty? What are the strategies, tools, and tactics that you can apply to thrive? Jim Harris, one of the best virtual speakers on the planet, has those answers for you.
In his highly interactive, dynamic, and fun virtual presentations, Jim will make your virtual conference a huge hit! He has spoken to three thousand people on a single live global virtual event and has worked with groups as small as 14 CEOs in Europe. He is comfortable working in any time zone – be it Hong Kong, the Middle East, or North America, as you don’t become a top virtual keynote speaker without being willing to alter your sleep schedule.
His topics include disruptive innovation, pivoting amid the COVID crisis, future trends, innovation, exponential tech trends, leadership, thriving in a VUCA (vulnerability, uncertainty, complex and ambiguous) world, and change. Invite him to be your keynote speaker at your next virtual event and witness the difference Jim makes.
The Best Virtual Speaker for this Rapidly Changing World
“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste” goes the saying. This crisis is the perfect one for organizations to question the way they work, to question old policies and procedures, and to add new value for customers.
Jim understands that companies change at the speed of pain, and when in pain, organizations need new interventions and approaches.
Choosing Jim Harris as your next virtual conference speaker will inspire your team members and give them advice on how to reach their goals in this time of uncertainty.
Only the best virtual conference speakers can make a true difference with their words, and Jim Harris is one of those select few. Equipped with over 30 years of business experience, your next virtual conference with Jim can help your business reach its goals of increasing revenue, cutting costs, increasing customer satisfaction, and mitigating risk.
Check out Jim Harris’ individual speaking pages for a more detailed look at what he can bring to your next virtual conference. Speaking at a virtual event requires a speaker loaded with enthralling qualities, and Jim has those in spades.
Many Virtual Conference Platforms
There are many virtual platforms for virtual conferences and team meetings. During the pandemic one of them has surpassed all others, one that both attendees and the top virtual keynote speakers have grown comfortable using – Zoom:
During the pandemic, Zoom has at times been downloaded more than 3 million times a day – six times the average run rate of its competitors.
Jim Harris is an expert at whatever virtual platform your organization is familiar with: Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans Meetings, GoToMeeting, Hopin, Skype for Business or many of the other virtual conferencing platforms. Few world class virtual presenters are skilled on all these platforms.
Education & Networking
The top two reasons for attending conferences are 1) education and 2) networking. So, the question is, can virtual events do better in both?
Jim writes: “In the past, clients would hire me to present at events with three thousand participants. Networking was always by happenstance. How could I know out of the 3,000 delegates whose interests exactly matched mine? Or who had contacts that I needed to be introduced to?”
I was presenting to a 3,000-person conference on Hopin, a platform that can handle up to 100,000 people concurrently. Hopin asks you what your Linkedin.com profile is and your Twitter profile. It then searches both for keywords to determine your interests.
The networking function of Hopin is like speed dating for executives. Using AI to match your interests, you end up meeting someone for just three minutes who you will likely have much in common with.
This technology can give you a BETTER experience than in person meetings.
10 Reasons Why Virtual Meetings Will Be Critical for the Next Two Years
1- More Value
Here is a staggering statistic: 70% of the total cost for traditional meetings are flights, accomodation and meals. But with virtual meetings, companies can get way more bang for their buck.
Jim Harris used to regularly speak at events costing $5,000 registration for three days with 2,000 participants. By contrast, the same conference was put online with the same caliber of speakers for just $147 and had 3,000 attendees from all over the world. So, the cost for attendees was 97% less for the conference registration fee, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. The conference fee in this case represented 50% of the total cost of attending after airfare, hotel, taxis, and meals were considered.
2- Greater Accessibility
Rather than have hundreds of people at your conference, event, or product launch, you can have thousands. This means a higher ROI for your conference spend, and it means more value for your attendees.
Potential attendees who could not afford the cost to travel to your events in the past can now be involved in any of your virtual conferences and see for themselves the change that the best virtual speakers can make in their lives.
3- Creating a Permanent Record
In the past, if you wanted to create video of your event you had to pay tens of thousands of dollars for camera crews and equipment. But with online events you can record directly using many of the platforms for free.
For instance, with Zoom all you have to do is hit a single button to record your virtual conference. So, for no incremental cost you can create additional value for employees or association members.
Companies and associations can create a library of content that new employees or members can access. This adds permanent value to your virtual conferences without the production costs associated with in-person events.
4- Enhanced Networking
Virtual conferences can offer BETTER networking than in person ones.
Jim writes: “I was presenting at a 3,000-person online conference on Hopin. Between presentations, participants could go to a live, real-time networking tab. The Hopin system asks users to input their Linkedin.com and Twitter profiles. It then analyzes your interest and matches you with people with similar interests.”
“I’m interested in disruptive innovation, blockchain, exponential tech trends, and how to increase sales during the COVID crisis. The software matched me with people that I would have been unlikely to bump into at a 3,000 participant in person event. So, the networking on Hopin was BETTER than in person events.”
5-The Medium Is the Message
If organizations are expecting people to work virtually, it’s important for the organizations to lead by example. The last thing your employees want to see is a room full of people while they’re stuck at home.
Organizing virtual conferences with top virtual keynote speakers is a fantastic way to show your employees that your organization has bought into this virtual way of life.
6- Big In Person Meetings Will Be Last To Come Back
Large meetings will be the last activity to come back. See the infographic below provided by the Texas Medical Association:
7- Cost & Time
What’s the real cost of an in-person meeting? It’s not the registration fee; it’s the cost of travel, accommodation, and time away from the office – the biggest expense of all.
Here’s the cost of a conference of a professional association meeting on the East Coast with 300 delegates from across the country.
300 flights @ $800 average 240,000
300 delegates x 3 nights @ $150 night hotel 135,000
300 delegates x 3 evening meals at own cost $40 36,000
300 delegates @ $800 conference fee 240,000
300 delegates away from office 3 days @ salary of $350 day 315,000
(Based on average salary of $87,500)
300 delegates pro-rated association membership 30,000
Total real cost to put on conference to delegates $996,000
The real cost of putting on a small conference for 300 people is a million dollars!
But the conference planner only sees a budget of $240,000 – one quarter of that amount. Because the registration fees are the budget that the meeting planner works with.
8- WFH (Work from Home)
A staggering 42.4% of Americans are obese according to the CDC. This leads to higher incidents of diabetes and heart disease, both of which are conditions that increase the death rate among people who catch the novel Coronavirus. So, when North American companies begin allowing people to return to work, many will choose not to for health care reasons. Similarly, people who have a compromised immune system will be more cautious than ever before.
When we are able to host large in-person conferences and events again in the future, a certain segment of the population may not wish to participate. Jim predicts that events going forward will be hybrid – in person with an online component feature.
9- Is the Office Tower Dead?
Think about the challenges of owning first Canadian Place at King and Bay in Toronto. The 72-story building in normal times provided office space for 10,000 people. But with COVID restrictions in place, only two people can ride in the elevator at once. Think about the consequences. You wait for three hours to get up to the office, and when you arrive it’s just time for lunch, so you wait to go back down to the food court. Then wait another three hours to get back to the office. You get the point. It’s ludicrous. So, either regulations will have to change, or a vaccine will have to be introduced on a wide scale.
10- Time Frame for Vaccine Development & Global Roll Out
How Bad Is the COVID Pandemic?
How Back Could It Be?
How Long Will the COVID Crisis Last?
It is particularly important to have an understanding of how long the pandemic is going to wreak havoc on the meetings and incentive industry, and how long we’ll have to resort to virtual speakers and meetings.
If the pandemic is only going to last another month or two, the incentive to completely pivot operations is not that great. However, if the pandemic is going to last for one, two or more years, meeting planners, conference speakers and the entire industry are going to have to make profound changes to thrive. So, understanding just how long this will last is important.
Epidemiologists have predicted that if COVID-19 is allowed to run through the human global population unchecked, then 60-80% of all people would catch the virus. As of July 12, 2020, almost 13,000,000 million people worldwide have caught the virus and 568,312 have died from the disease. So, the current death rate is 4.4%. Doing the math on 7.9 billion people (the world population) that means between 4.7 billion and 6.3 billion people would catch it and between 200 and 280 million people would die from it.
Fastest Vaccine ever developed
Between 1998 and 2009 it took on average 10.7 years to develop a vaccine. And more recently the fastest vaccine ever developed was five years.
We had the SARS outbreak in 2002-2004 and MERS in 2012. Both were Coronaviruses like COVID-19. In fact, about 80% of these two coronaviruses are identical to COVID-19, but we still don’t have a vaccine for them. While we have had these two coronaviruses for almost two decades, no vaccine has ever been developed for a Coronavirus.
What is the significance of this? Why is it important to mention? Because if we don’t have a vaccine for two years, three years or even five years, companies and associations are going to have to pivot and proceed with events without meeting in person. This means more virtual conferences and increased need for amazing for virtual keynote speakers.
Explanation of Graphic Above
Less than 10% of clinical drug trials are ever approved. In Phase 1 of trials, typically 37% of drugs being tested fail. In Phase 2, a staggering 69% of remaining drugs that are tested fail.
In Phase 3, 42% of those remaining fail. That leaves only an exceedingly small number of drugs that make it to this penultimate stage where an additional 15% fail. This process takes such a long period of time in part because drug companies and the FDA want to ensure that the drugs are safe for humans.
And once the vaccine has run through clinical trials and been approved, it must be 1) manufactured and 2) distributed to 8 billion people. That will take time.
Some vaccines require two shots. For instance, the Shingles vaccine requires a second shot two to six months after the first injections. So, think of the logistic challenges of inoculating 8 billion people twice within six months.
I believe we will have a vaccine developed. I just don’t think that it will be in one year from the outbreak or even two years.
What is a Virtual Conference?
Virtual conferences allow remote participants to access live onsite meetings and events from their computers, even from the other side of the planet. A virtual conference is hosted entirely over the Internet; participants have no need to get together in a conference room. Through a conference website or video conferencing tools designed specifically for this virtual experience, participants can join virtual meetings with ease. A successful virtual conference is one with a relevant virtual keynote speaker.
In addition to the live events, virtual conferences include discussion forums, networking opportunities, a conference resource center, the ability to search for and chat with other conference participants, and the virtual keynote speaker. All of these are specifically designed to give virtual participants the same opportunity to get the same event experience as onsite attendees.
A video conference allows participants to not only hear but also see each other during a meeting with a computer video camera and microphone or the built-in camera on their mobile device. There are various kinds of video conference providers in the current market, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex and Skype. People who want to join a video conference need video conferencing software, a computer with a webcam and a microphone speaker equipped, or a mobile device and a fast Internet connection.
This type of virtual conference is often used when the virtual conference speaker can talk about relevant topics and hold discussions.
Why Host a Virtual Conference?
Virtual conferences help deliver your company’s message to drive leads and revenue, drive adoption, and build lifetime loyalty value. Meeting and event planners have been making the choice between in-person, virtual, and hybrid events for years, and each type of event comes with its own set of pros and cons. For instance, a webinar benefits from being virtual as it is purpose-built to cast a wide net to deliver thought-leadership, training, or some other content, whereas a user conference or regional training program is purpose-built to create 1:1 in-person interactions that face-to-face delivery enhances. When deciding whether to make your event virtual, consider what you hope to gain from the event and how well those goals can be reached virtually versus in-person.
However, with the ban on in-person conferences looking to stay set for the foreseeable future, virtual conferences are going to be forced to adapt and execute ideas that were kept to in-person meetings for so long. Therefore, hiring one of the best virtual conference speakers can be a huge boon to your virtual conferences.
Here are a few reasons to host a virtual conference:
- Accessibility: While the event is still being held in-person, virtual options allow you to accommodate attendees who are unable to attend in person.
- Budget: Your organization needs to cut costs and making smaller events and webinars virtual can help move money to the biggest event of the year that brings in the largest number of leads. It also helps to have a virtual or hybrid option when attendee budgets to travel are a concern.
- There’s no other option: Whether due to the extreme weather, travel bans, or an act of God, you’re forced to make your in-person event virtual or cancel it altogether.