Future of meetings
In December 2019, Zoom reported 10 million daily users. Three months later, the number of Zoom’s daily participants jumped to more than 300 million.
The COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically altered our daily routines, shifting our day-to-day activities from offline to online. Online lectures, meetings, and conferences skyrocketed following the pandemic. New conferencing platforms emerged while existing ones gained in popularity.
Expressions such as the ‘future of meetings’, the ‘future of work’, and the ‘future of learning’ have been used extensively, each referring to a specific field of our daily activities which have been impacted by COVID-19.
New challenges began emerging the moment we shifted to meeting online. Some of the setbacks are related to the existing digital divide between regions/countries that have the necessary access and capabilities to use information and communications technologies (ICTs) and the internet, and those that do not. Other challenges have arisen with the increased popularity and use of online platforms.
Tackling the challenges
Following the pandemic outbreak, Diplo launched its ConfTech project to assess the challenges and opportunities of the shift to online work and learning. Since then, ConfTech has been publishing guidelines on the use of various online platforms, and providing advice to event organisers and moderators, as well as tips and tricks for organising successful and effective online events. All of these resources are available below.
In May 2020, Diplo addressed the shift towards online meetings in its landmark Future of Meetings online conference which included almost 600 participants. The event explored the five main aspects of the future of meetings: technology, security, moderation, behaviour, and diplomacy. A summary of the discussions can be found in the report available here. The main aspects of the future of meetings will be tackled in the following sections.
Technology and security of online platforms
One of the recurring questions when organising online events is how to choose the right videoconferencing platform. The influx of conferencing platforms, each claiming to offer easy videoconferencing, leaves many meeting organisers puzzled. For this reason, Diplo has conducted a comprehensive and comparative survey of online meeting platforms and outlined the basic features of each one to help users select the right option.
It is also worth noting that a number of regions still face obstacles in regard to internet infrastructure development which, to a large extent, impact one’s participation in online meetings. This is why an increasing number of platforms enable low bandwidth utilisation, by, for instance, adjusting resource usage depending on network conditions.
Online meetings are also prone to numerous security and privacy challenges. The sharp rise in videoconferencing increased the possibility of security breaches of all kinds due to security limitations of platforms. They can occur through participants’ computers, via their internet connections and online meeting platforms, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex.
‘Zoom bombing’ reports have been in the headlines ever since the pandemic broke out. Uninvited participants have been hijacking meetings, classes, and conferences, and using obscene language and visuals. On the other hand, manyfold leakages of meeting recordings, transcripts, and participants’ data have come to public attention and led platform companies to tighten their security and privacy settings.
There are a number of ways users can secure their online events. For example, meeting hosts can require a password for meeting attendees, set up waiting rooms, lock meetings, keep their software up-to-date, and encrypt meeting resources, to name but a few.
The future of meetings: What to expect?
So, what will the future meetings look like? Certainly, online meetings and hybrid (blended) meetings are here to stay. Some of the reasons include the ease of attending a meeting from anywhere in the world, lower costs, and environmental benefits. This is why adequate digital skills, effective moderation, and understanding technology, security-related risks, and social contexts will remain the key aspects of meetings and conferences.
From our blog
Hybrid is hybrid: Testing the limits of hybrid meetings
30 November 2021
COVID-19 and Diplomacy, Future of meetings, Remote participation
In the world of event management, \'hybrid\' may just be the buzzword of the year. Hybrid meetings bring people together in a necessarily unconventional setting while lending a certain innovative cachet to proceedings...
X-Ray of the 76. UN General Assembly
12 October 2021
Cybersecurity, Diplomatic reporting, Future of meetings, International organisations, Multilateral diplomacy, Remote participation, Rights of future generations
After a year of online meetings, many heads of states returned to New York for the high-level session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session during the third week of September. Around 40% of the leaders delivered s...
One year of the ‘new normal’
24 March 2021
Looking back on 2020 is a bit different from our usual annual perspectives. Communication and work over the internet have taken a completely new meaning in the past 12 months. Prior to the global pandemic, we would ...
Innovation in online meetings: SEEDIG 6
20 September 2020
COVID-19 and Diplomacy, Digital diplomacy, Diplomatic theory and practice, Future of meetings
This year, the 6th South Eastern European Dialogue on Internet Governance (SEEDIG) on 21-25 September 2020 – the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) regional initiative for South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring ar...
Training and courses
Online Meetings and Conferences
Diplomatic Law: Privileges and Immunities
Starting 24 Jul 23
Internet Technology and Policy
Starting 24 Jul 23
Advanced Diploma in Internet Governance
Starting 24 Jul 23
Intro to Internet Governance
Starting 19 Feb 24
Launch: ConfTech Immersion Lab (Geneva)
Online Meetings and Conferences: How to Run Effective and Secure Events
22 Jan 21 -
Hybrid conference: The future of (multilateral) diplomacy
22 Oct 20 - 22 Oct 20
Start of the Online Meetings and Conferences online course
15 Oct 20 - 15 Oct 20
Launch of the Help Desk for inclusive governance
24 Sep 20 - 24 Sep 20
Launch: ConfTech’s Library on the Future of Meetings
17 Sep 20 - 17 Sep 20
Online conference ‘The Future of Meetings’
12 May 20 - 12 May 20
How to organise and run online meetings during COVID-19 times
17 Mar 20 -
DiploFoundation and Geneva Internet Platform at 10th IGF in Brazil
10 Nov 15 - 13 Nov 15
Diplo workshops on Day 3 of #IGF2013
24 Oct 13 -
E-participation Day: towards a more open UN?
19 Jun 13 -
21 May 13 -
[Webinar] Remote participation: from principles to practice
26 Feb 13 -
Remote Participation – Opportunities and Challenges for Multilateral Diplomacy
17 May 12 -
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