If you had asked about Zoom calls, say, three years ago, I suspect many would not have known what they were, let alone how to use the platform. COVID certainly changed that over the last two years. Decades ago, we used acetates and overhead projectors during presentations, hiding the next line with a piece of paper so as to not reveal the whole message at once—perhaps in case the audience stopped listening to the speaker. Who knows? Then came the wonderful and highly professional PowerPoint program, which enables anyone to make up a slick-looking presentation with things flying in and rolling out. But wait! Zoom or other similar videoconferencing tools allow us to be there, with others, face-to-face (even if no bodies are present 😊).
COVID led to these becoming not just novelties but our new normal. Now, Zoom calls (or MS Teams or any of several other, similar tools) are all-too-familiar to us. From rarely if ever using them, now they are a daily occurrence, often several times a day. Our world has become full of ‘You’re muted’ or ‘Can you hear me?’ or ‘How do I share this document?’ or ‘I can see you, but I can’t hear you.’ These experiences have become part of everyday language and while it is easy to see the funny side, it is often frustrating, too. That said, what would we have done without it? If something like COVID had happened years ago, businesses likely would not have been able to work from home so easily. Teammates would not be nearly so well connected or able to stay in contact with each other or customers and partners.
In our professional world of auditing and training, videoconferencing tools enabled many to keep businesses going where before they might have ground to a halt. They were a godsend. Remote auditing and remote training have become accepted norms, which, if not perfect, are certainly good enough. For that alone, I believe these technologies have saved many businesses and we should be truly thankful for their existence.
So, is Zoom a blessing? Certainly. I for one would not be without these tools, but they do have limitations depending on how they are used. One area of limitation is that although they have allowed us to have conference calls, short and long, and to do our work remotely, when it comes to presenting ideas to each other, we so often just see a ‘talking head and a PowerPoint.’ Now, I do not mean to diminish anything that anyone has done this way, particularly over recent months and years. I am also eternally grateful to all those of you that have been such figures for our own virtual Expos and webinars. Sincerely, thank you. This said, we are acutely conscious of audience ‘Zoom fatigue’ and that, with the best will in the world, a virtual conference is not the same as one that occurs in person. Often, what people value in a conference, more even than the technical content and presentations, is the interaction with peers.
And so, as I have been hinting for some time, this year our virtual event, the Excellence in Auditing Expo, will come to you in a different form. This will include a modern platform with some very special features to allow a more realistic representation of a conference, where you will be able to (virtually) meet people, socially and professionally. You will watch our various presentations in an auditorium, and also be able to enjoy a foyer where you can build your professional connections in entertaining and innovative ways. Also new this year, all of our content will first be made available during live sessions during which you can participate and interact if you wish. All material will be recorded and available for you to watch and re-watch at your leisure (although that does miss some of the opportunity to interact live). Best of all, you still won’t have to travel, or book hotels, or take time off work. I won’t say too much more for now except to ask you to ‘watch this space’ as the details of the event are published.
This change is driven as much by the feedback that we have received from you about content and style as it is by our own wish to embrace technology to better serve you, our customers. So, as ever, we will greatly value any feedback you might have as you see this newly styled Exemplar Global flagship event for 2022. I will look forward to seeing you there! And yes, that should be possible…