What will conferences look like in the future? We have suggestions.
Last updated: 27.03.2023
- Conferences of the future: climate neutrality and sustainability
- Conferences of the future: the role of man, the role of the machine
- Conferences of the future: Responsibility
- Conferences of the future: The foundation communication
By mid-2022, the big topic for us at events and conferences was no longer "Corona and Digital" but "Energy and Sustainability".
We increasingly asked ourselves the question: are digital events the necessary future even without Corona? At the same time we were sure that the exchange from person to person and face to face is important and essential, in the exchange from screen to screen a lot of important and good things are lost.
Will only climate-neutral events be allowed to take place in the future? There will be many exceptions. The upcoming G7 summit in 2023 will take place in Hiroshima. How much CO2 is consumed for this purpose? How many of our traditional federal or state conferences could be held for this? (A result is still pending, we stay tuned).
Together with the Berlin-based communications agency Berlin Realities GmbH, we are developing a white paper for ourselves, our partners and our customers on the key points of "Conferences of the Future".
In an interdisciplinary team of technicians, futurologists, interpreters, and contributors to associations and politics, we are developing an overview through interviews, articles, and surveys that will provide a simple and practical guide to sustainable, equitable, and meaningful events.
We started the idea in January 2023 and are currently collecting documents and conducting interviews. We invite you to participate in our work and join us.
Are you working on one of our topics or its fringe areas?
Preliminary: Fundamental considerations
1. much less waste, but a circular economy
It's easy for us to say, because our business has never been large-scale events or trade fair construction. One thing is clear: special constructions for 3 days that end up in the trash on the last day of the fair will have a hard time, but so will plastic give-aways that break after 7 days. Prepare food for 300 guests and only 50 show up. The less we throw away at each event the better. We'll do some research and find the right item at the event partner on January 19, 2023. Thank you!
2. climate neutral events
We have been working for accessible events for many years and are always a little unhappy with this term. Even though we strive to keep barriers as low as possible, it will probably never be completely barrier-free. We think it's similar with the requirement for climate neutrality. It's so difficult and abstract today that many in our industry don't even start. Beware: it's not difficult to relatively accurately measure CO2-value of an event, but how large are the CO2-impressions our guests? Is there still room for a nice evening event with show program or should we do without it? Here, too, we have found a good, reliable source.
We are reassured. The word "climate-neutral" appears a total of 68 times in the 88-page guide, while the word "climate-friendly" appears 130 times. Good! There is a step-by-step plan for "climate-friendly events". A rough guideline: Why not try to organize your event with a reduced CO2-emissions of at least 60 %. To make this happen, you should create a climate protection concept for your climate-friendly event. This is a good start. You will come across detailed questions, but the GRÜNE LIGA Berlin e.V. can surely answer them in its action guide
3. video conference or on-site meeting?
As early as 2021, we have already reduced CO2-emissions from videoconferencing and came across the comprehensive study by Jens Clausen and Stefanie Schramm of the Borderstep Institute.
The rebound effect is also well studied here. In the case of videoconferencing, the question is: Are we eating up the energy savings from fewer live meetings by a particular increase in the number of digital conferences? Power consumption for servers, high image and sound quality is constantly increasing, and yet the study concludes that even despite a huge increase in digital conferences, the energy saving is still there.
When should we meet on site?
Our communications consultant Steffen Höllein has a short answer: Whenever emotional and moving or complex topics are involved, it's better to meet in person. For him, hybrid meetings require special attention and qualifications in moderation and leadership. Two-class societies quickly emerge in hybrid events. Either the participants are at an advantage on site or at home. Nevertheless, hybrid solutions are also the future for him. The professional handling of camera, light and sound and a conducive speaking culture are becoming more common. More and more participants are demonstrating the skills and behavior that remote participation requires. Practice makes perfect.
4. AI, people and data
Tech guru Jaron Lanier: 'The danger isn't that AI destroys us. It's that it drives us insane'.
What can AI do?
At the beginning of 2023, the ability of ChatGPT 3 surprised almost everyone after all. In the exchange with AI specialists we have learned. What is currently happening is not a special development of AI itself, but that the technologies are currently linked and can be used by everyone. Is AI now replacing interpreters? We are watching the announcements from Microsoft and KUDO. Our prediction: it can only be a question of a short time until speech-to-text, automated translation and text-to-speech will be linked so well and quickly that such an automatic simultaneous interpretation will reach a sufficient quality for many areas. In parallel and much faster, it is likely that translated live subtitling will become a standard in many applications. In many cases where live interpretation was not possible, mainly for cost reasons, we await increased use of AI.
What can man do?
Feel and think. Remember: so-called artificial intelligence has little to do with thinking and responsibility. Perhaps in the near future interpreters will monitor the automatic systems or work completely autonomously, especially where we do not trust the automatic decisions and do not want to share data. We are certainly all well advised to use and cultivate what makes a human participant in an event. Being human, with its presence, politeness, hospitality and acceptance of responsibility.
I see: Data!
Collect, collect, collect. AI doesn't work without volumes of data, and these still mostly flow into indeterminable channels around the world today. We have long appreciated European legislation and the GDPR. Yes, it's not always easy for organizers and responsible parties, but it's essential and important for them and the participants for that. We assume that tracking, data snooping and spying on users will be made even more difficult by European policy and welcome this very much.
5. low barrier and diverse
Good to have you here. Inclusion and diversity are becoming a matter of course. For event, spatial, linguistic-communicative and technical accessibility are particularly important. Aktion Mensch has a checklist to get you started. Technical accessibility is the easiest, perhaps only because we have been dealing with it for many years.
Diversity has more to do than unisex restrooms. In the USA, a dispute is breaking out about woke society. Woke seems to be everything that is tolerant, does not agitate, does not discriminate, is committed and politically awake. So, yes: stay woke ? also at events and congresses. Many a faux pas from yesterday is in the details. In any case, we are very glad that lecterns are called lecterns today, and that not only language is chosen consciously and carefully.
6. we cannot wait for nuclear fusion
Many researchers and scientists hope that soon we will have the perfect source of energy. The sun on earth, the nuclear fusion reactor. Originally, a milestone, the experimental nuclear fusion reactor "ITER", was to begin operation in 2016; until recently, it was said 2025, currently 2028 is considered more realistic. We think it is right and important to strive for climate neutrality that also works, even if this innovation remains only a vision in the long term.
Model: ITER fusion reactor. Tokamak. Thermonuclear experimental power plant.
7. join in!
What questions are you interested in? What should we consider? We are in contact with many associations and institutions and are happy to pass on what we cannot answer ourselves. Not every question has a good answer, and not every answer is one we want to hear. Feel free to think and discuss with us on our question: What will conferences look like in the future?