From Your Executive Director
It is hard to believe that it is already October and another Annual Meeting looms before us. It seems not that long ago that we were in Melbourne celebrating the 82nd meeting. This year's meeting will be nothing like last year's meeting, and nothing like anything we've done before. But we are confident that it will be wonderful in its own way.
Planning and preparing for this year's Annual Meeting has been a challenge unlike any other. None of us expected at this time last year that we would not be coming together in Pittsburgh to share knowledge and engage with each other both professionally and socially. We have come to realize that it is impossible to recreate a face-to-face environment in an online format. However, we have done our best to create a program that will transfer excellent knowledge to the attendees and allow for as much direct interaction and engagement as is possible in an online environment.
For this reason we are using two different platforms for the meeting. We are using an online platform called Bigmarker for all of the content sessions that do not require significant interaction between attendees and presenters. We will have both live and recorded sessions on that platform, and an opportunity for attendees to engage in Q&A with presenters after every session. There will also be exhibits, chat rooms, and a support desk on the platform. For those sessions that require direct give-and-take between attendees and greater levels of participant engagement, we will be using Zoom. We recognize that it is not ideal to have to transfer between these two platforms, but we thought this was the best course of action in order to allow for the best participant experience and a chance for you to catch up with colleagues.
Every day, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, we are having a coffee tea and cocktails hour on Zoom. This is an opportunity for attendees to socialize, to the extent that one can on Zoom, and catch up with each other. Staff will be available to create breakout rooms should groups of attendees wish to have a "hallway conversation." There will be chat rooms on the Bigmarker platform for each SIG to engage with interested attendees in a chat format. We hope that these spaces will allow for participant interaction and collegiality.
While this meeting format is not ideal, it does provide presenters and participants the opportunity to share knowledge, which is the primary purpose of the Annual Meeting. We remain optimistic that future meetings will include a face-to-face component, but we also recognize that the reality is that we will need to provide virtual participation opportunities for presenters and attendees in all future meetings. While this was on our collective to do list already, this year is providing a unique opportunity to fast-track those plans and give us experience in using online tools for virtual participation.
We are excited that we have nine outstanding workshops and tutorials, all of which have seen significant registration numbers to date. These will be held on Zoom to allow for maximum engagement and participation by and with attendees. You can register for a workshop or tutorial without registering for the full meeting, so I encourage you to do that if this is something of interest to you.
If you've not done so already, and wish to attend the annual meeting, whether it is just for one day or all five days of the meeting, please don't hesitate to register. The sooner you are registered, the sooner you will receive your credentials and have full access to the benefits of the meeting. While you can register at any time up until the last day of the meeting, we can't guarantee how quickly we can get you your login credentials in the case of the late registration. So don't hesitate to register now to get the most benefit out of your registration.
I look forward to seeing many of you online in the coming weeks. Please don't hesitate to reach out if we can be of any assistance to you in registering or attending the meeting, or in any other way!
All the best,