by Rosie Stewart, Editorial Director & Systems Lead
As a ‘Supplier Member’ of the Independent Publishers Guild for many years, we were eager to attend the IPG Spring Conference on 8–9 June 2022. Our CEO, Tim Davies and Business Development Manager for education, Marquita Celestine attended the event in person with a stand in the exhibitors’ area. I decided to attend the conference online, using the two-day online pass.
The conference included a wide range of workshops, panels and keynote speakers. Particularly interesting topics for me included a two-part management workshop, a detailed introduction to metadata and a panel discussion on book pricing. Supply chain issues, sustainability, rising costs and the role of audio were all recurring themes throughout the sessions.
I was delighted that the IPG offered the online option, as it made the conference accessible to those with travel limitations, home-based responsibilities, or many other possible reasons. Last year the conference was fully online, and I was interested to see how this hybrid model worked out. Overall it was an incredibly positive experience; here are three key reflections.
1. It’s worth practising the tech in advance
The IPG conference was run through Whova, an events management software, which I found very straightforward and intuitive to use. It took a few minutes to set up my profile and download the app onto my phone, and I’m glad I did this a couple of days before rather than stressing right before the first session. I also spent some time looking through the schedule and adding sessions to my personalised agenda. The login information was sent out by the IPG well in advance, which allowed time to prepare. All of this put me in the right frame of mind for attending the conference and meant that I was ready to go when the first session came around.
I recommend giving the online set-up the same consideration that you would give your travel arrangements if you were attending the event in person. As well as ensuring you don’t have any last-minute technical hiccups, this gives you the right mindset and creates some anticipation for the event.
2. Catch-up is key
Just like in-person events, you can’t watch all of the online sessions at the same time. This makes the catch-up feature one of the best things about the Whova experience. All of the sessions are now available to watch via the app, which means you can rewatch sessions or catch-up on those that you missed.
Conferences can be overwhelming, so being able to take in the information at your own pace is a fantastic advantage compared to in-person attendance – or in addition to it. You have to be really disciplined here, though, otherwise watching the sessions can drop to the bottom of the ever-growing to-do list. I am going to try and watch one session per week, and try to avoid the trap of half-watching it in the background while doing other things.
3. Networking just isn’t the same
The Whova app offers several ways to network online, such as using the Q&A function to ask questions during sessions or exchanging private messages with other delegates. All of this worked well and helped me to feel included in the event. Having said that, it just isn’t the same as being there in person. Conferences are designed to create organic opportunities for conversation over coffee or while sitting next to someone at a seminar.
No matter how effective the online chat functions are, I don’t think they can truly replace the benefits of in-person networking. If meeting people is your primary aim for an event such as this, I would consider attending in person.
- I hugely enjoyed the IPG online conference and highly recommend it to anyone who is unable to attend in person.
- For both online and in-person delegates, the catch-up function is well worth looking into.
- For future events it is worth thinking about what you want to get out of the experience; if networking is your top priority then I suggest attending in person if you can.
For information about or to register for events IPG has scheduled, visit their website.