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AFS Review: News

Clear Preferences Concerning Virtual Meetings Revealed by Survey Results

Monday, June 29, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Emily Bianchi

The results of our recent survey concerning virtual meeting preferences have given us valuable insights into how to tailor our first virtual meeting to your interests and circumstances. A large number of people responded to the survey, expressing high levels of enthusiasm for participating in a virtual meeting, but also suggesting that participants’ own circumstances will limit their capacity to engage.

Here is a summary of some of the most notable responses:

  • 90% of respondents are interested in attending, and a third are very interested in presenting in a virtual meeting. Most respondents (69%) are willing to present virtually.
  • Respondents are most enthusiastic to attend content related to research from the field (81.2%), keynote addresses (72%), sections meetings (64%), and issues of professional practice and methodology (57%). 
  • Though most respondents would prefer live presentations with Q&A (85%), many are also interested in recordings of pre-recorded presentations (60%) and discussions (47%) on demand, in part because they are unsure of how stay-at-home orders, alternate working conditions, or time zone differences may affect their schedule and availability. 
  • Many respondents noted that they’d miss the social and networking opportunities provided by the Annual Meeting. More than half of respondents (55%) would attend structured group interaction, and almost as many (46%) would take part in facilitated 1:1 networking.
  • As for scheduling, 79% of respondents prefer content not to exceed about 4-6 hours each day, and 66% suggest that live content should not exceed one week. 
  • For a majority of respondents, the biggest obstacles to participation were scheduling or capacity issues, such as the possibility of unexpected or unpredictable claims on their attention (62%), schedule inflexibility (58%) or having too little time to engage (54%). Additionally, written comments revealed high levels of exhaustion and burnout. 
  • Other significant obstacles included problems specific to virtual meetings in general (40%) or technical barriers to participation (23%).
  • Most respondents indicated that they would pay current registration rates or more to participate in a virtual meeting, but a substantial number could not (43%).
  • On the bright side, in addition to ensuring AFS members and partners are able to convene for an Annual Meeting, the survey results highlight the possibility that a virtual meeting broadens the reach and accessibility of an AFS annual meeting: almost 60% of respondents were not already registered to attend the in-person meeting in Tulsa.

See the full results.

Based on these results, AFS staff and committee members are at work to arrange a virtual meeting that will be smaller than a typical in-person meeting and also deliberately planned to be an effective use of the virtual space and participants’ time. This virtual meeting has the potential to broaden our audience and modes of meeting in innovative and accessible ways. 

We are also working on providing financial support for those who would not be able to participate otherwise.

We are eager to gather in any way we can, and are at work exploring the ways a virtual meeting can best foster networking and sharing ideas. 

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