New Since October 2021
Zoom Conferences are new, part of a new class of services called Zoom Events.
Conferences have several interesting features suited for larger, more complex events.
Like a regular onsite conference you might have attended in the past, a Zoom Conference allows an organization to schedule sessions — including multiple Meetings and Webinars — under a single conference. These sessions can be single-threaded, single-track where everybody attends everything, or concurrent, multi-track sessions where attendees can pick and choose which sessions to attend live.
Then attendees have the option to view recordings of the sessions they were unable to attend.
The Event Lobby
The main construct of a Zoom Conference is the Event Lobby, Here, attendees can view the conference session line-up, see bios of the presenters, make their own customized itinerary, and chat with other attendees.
Optionally, selected sessions can be “live-streamed” to the lobby, where anyone can watch the presentation. Think of it as a “live, big-screen peek inside”, where attendees in the lobby can choose which event they’d like to attend, or watch later via recorded video.
Like onsite conferences you may have attended, it’s possible to include a virtual “Vendor Exposition Hall”, where sponsors and/or free or paid outside organizations can have their own meeting space for welcoming attendees, presenting their products, and answering questions.
Vendors can even have take-away PDF information sheets that any “passer-by” can grab and take with them, just in onsite.
Zoom Conferences also provide an opt-in-or-out chat feature, allowing attendees to meet up with friends and make new acquaintances online in the Event Lobby. Attendees can search the attendee directory for other coworkers or friends.
What’s the Catch?
The biggest issue with Conferences is that there is a lot of planning and coordination involved. If you’ve ever planned an onsite conference, you know the magnitude is much larger than planning one simple meeting. A virtual conference is similarly complex, and requires a project management approach to planning.
Sessions need to be scheduled, and descriptions created for the session directory. Speaker bios need to be gathered, including photographs, any contact information the speaker wishes to share, and any handouts that attendees should have access to in advance.
Vendors, especially major sponsors of your event, need some time to understand how the virtual expo will work. They will want to get the best possible value from this event, and some education will be necessary.
Is a Zoom Event Conference Right for You?
If you’re interested in a large event, let’s discuss this as a possibility and make that decision together. Sometimes it’s a lot simpler to just have one all-day Webinar that attendees join in the morning and stay all day, while presenters and panelists come and go. But sometimes you’ve got a complex series of sessions that needs the flexibility that a Zoom Conference can provide.
A Note on Terminology
Words matter. Just to clarify, sometimes I talk about Zoom events (small E), where I mean everything Zoom has to offer: Meetings, Webinars, Conferences, and more. And sometimes I talk about Zoom Events (capital E), the specific product that permits an organizer to create a unified multi-day schedule, potentially with concurrent, multi-track sessions.
And by sessions, I mean Meetings and Webinars.