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What’s the right length for virtual event conference sessions?

At the recent Virtual Edge conference and in a discussion on Linkedin’s Virtual Event Forum, the subject of virtual event conference session length has come up. Or, as Stu Schmidt from Unisfair asks “how long is too long?”

In my view, virtual event conference sessions are still imitating face to face event content models and they need to evolve. People just won’t stay seated for more than an hour in front of a computer and no one has figured out how to create a virtual event coffee break.

Here are some thoughts on where I think things are headed:
1) The construct of virtual events and the design of individual sessions will evolve to suit the medium. An hour is too darn long for a single topic in a virtual event. We’ll see more TED Conference type 18 minute sessions.
2) Events per se will become shorter and more focused. To use an itunes anology, event organizers are still “producing albums” when what the world really wants is hit singles. Full day events are an artifact of the need to justify a physical trip to a meeting. As that disappears with virtual events, event experiences will become shorter and much more targeted and focused.
3) The stickyness of social media is driven by our insatiable desire to see what others are saying, especially in response to us or about us. In order to take advantage of this engagement motivator virtual event sessions will need to become conversations and collaborative discussions rather than lectures. Think about it, the fundamental construct of a conference session as lecture is thousands of years old.
4) Cumulative insights and interaction of an audience during a conference session will add value in this interactive and collaborative conference session environment via the Tweet stream and Twitter becomes an essential component of “sessions”.

What do you think?


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