What is the Best Length for a Virtual Conference?

— 3 minute read

With a good number of events converting to an online event, many organizers are trying to determine what is best length for an online conference.

Can the same amount of days for a physical conference work the same for a virtual event?

Best Length for a Virtual Conference permalink

Through many years of doing online events, I've found the best length of an online conference is 1 to 2 days with about 6 hours' worth of content each day.

Ideally, you should keep to one track with a very focused, well-curated list of speakers and topics.

With this approach, the conference can become a more accessible event to produce and market.

Don't spread talks over multiple weeks or even months. If you have more content such as more speakers, more sessions, then add additional tracks over those same 1 to 2 days.

If you want to produce a more extended online event, the value diminishes for attendees, speakers, and organizers.

Cost to Attendees permalink

While attendees save on time and expenses on travel and accommodations for an online event, their attention is way more focused on watching their screens. That's going to be hard on the eyes and mind.

And with so many distractions at the office or home vying for their attention, it's hard for attendees to stay focused throughout an online event no matter how much they love the content.

And when you have attendees that are distracted or don't show up, the chat room or other online interactions are going to be minimal.

Cost to Speakers permalink

Also, if you schedule several events over a long period. The more likely a speaker's schedule might change and their focus as well. Their career goals might even change!

I had one speaker drop out of an event because, by the time the event, they had started working in an entirely different industry.

Cost to Organizers permalink

Having longer conference means more time is needed for planning those logistics.

One example is tech checks. With any virtual conference, you will need to do a tech check with each speaker. The more days means more speakers. More speakers means more tech checks. And each tech check needs time to do them right – as every speaker will have their own unique setup and challenges.

Conclusion permalink

While online events are a great way to reach a broad audience and often have cost savings associated without the need to pay for food or venues, they are not easy to produce with excellence.