Going virtual for events should no longer be a second-rate choice associated with sighing or gritted teeth. Virtual and hybrid events are creating equity in meeting attendance for NASDA, and associations worldwide. NASDA’s last in-person event was the 2020 Winter Policy Conference. We pulled this event off by the skin of our teeth and our last day in the office followed shortly after in mid-March.
In a recent article in Associations Now Daily News, virtual is identified as a “co-equal format.”
“Some people want to go to the in-person event because they want to network, or to touch different products at the exhibit hall trade show, or because their company’s paying for it and they want to hit up the buffet at Caesars. You’ve also got people who—due to the size of their company, economic factors, or commitments at home—are now going to be able to remotely experience this amazing opportunity that previously might have been out of reach for them.”
From feedback on all of our recent virtual conferences, we know that our virtual format is allowing more state staff to attend.
“I normally would not have had been able to attend but the virtual platform allowed me to participate.”- State staff attendee of the NASDA Winter Policy Conference
Since going virtual, attendance has increased 105 percent to our virtual 2020 Annual Meeting, up 192 percent for the Winter Policy Conference, and up 189 percent for the Tri-National Agricultural Accord. This means more exposure to NASDA, more exposure to our valued partners, and more exposure to the hard work you’re doing in the states. Going virtual also means the caliber of speakers who add value to our meetings is increased. The ease of clicking on a zoom link means we are able to confirm speakers who are otherwise unable to commit their time to us.
So what will Kentucky look like? We are working hard to make this conference a hybrid event. People will have the opportunity to attend in-person while wearing a mask for the entire conference (and self-monitoring for symptoms!) or attend virtually from their home offices. This means every state has an opportunity to ensure their voice is heard during committee meetings despite travel restrictions, budget restraints, or other commitments at home.
One thing is for sure, NASDA’s virtual format is so successful that it is likely a new permanent tool in our toolbox.