SLA2020: Virtual Presentations, Real Takeaways

What’s lost when in-person meetings and presentations transition to remote teleconferences and webinars? Plenty, we’re told.

Technical glitches can cause interruptions and reduce productivity. Attendees can more easily be distracted. Body language is absent, so critical emotional cues aren’t communicated. And the “flow” of conversations or question-and-answer sessions can become jagged or feel forced.

What’s not always appreciated, however, is that there are benefits to offering virtual events. They provide access to larger audiences than in-person events, and reach across more geographic regions and time zones. They can be recorded and viewed later at more convenient times. They’re less expensive to produce and attend, and they allow more efficient real-time sharing of documents and other resources.

These and other advantages were on full display at SLA2020, SLA’s first all-virtual annual conference. Originally scheduled for June 6-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina, SLA2020 was presented virtually over a two-week period in October, beginning with a kickoff session on October 5 and concluding with three “live” days that included two keynote addresses—one on developing a culture of belonging and the other on getting ahead and making connections in a socially distanced world—as well as health and wellness sessions and a karaoke/dance party.


“As someone who attended SLA conference annually for many years, I was uncertain about a virtual conference. I’m a convert! The clever use of the technology platforms used by all presenters has made this a pleasant and educational experience.”


While SLA2020 officially “closed” on October 16, the education sessions and keynote presentations are available to attendees through November 13. That means SLA2020 is not a two-week event but a six-week event, giving attendees even more time to access content, gain insights, and create value.

Judging from the initial feedback, content, insights and value were in abundance at SLA2020. Following are some of the many positive comments attendees posted in the chat windows of conference sessions and in the “lobby” of the conference portal:

“Enjoyed my first SLA conference experience! I was unsure how effective this event would be in a virtual environment. You exceeded my expectations! The use of ZOOM and other platforms offered the in person connection I needed . . . especially during these trying times. Thank you. #SLA2020″
—Michele Ramsey

“Loved the chair yoga session! Definitely something I will incorporate into my new wfh reality. Namaste! As someone who attended SLA conference annually for many years, I was uncertain about a virtual conference. I’m a convert! The clever use of the technology platforms used by all presenters has made this a pleasant and educational experience. #SLA2020. Bring on #SLA2021!”
—Karen Bleakley

“Excellent presentation with lots of actionable ideas and ways of looking at data with info pro expertise and skills relevancy. Thank you!”
—Deb Hunt

“Thanks for the info. I look forward to seeing the worksheets as my organization moves to our next steps.”
—Christina Hainault

“It is hard to believe that SLA Virtual has given so much to SLA Asia and me as well. Recognition to our efforts as SLA Asia, a gift as one of the first 500 registrants, overall Best Poster Award, a $25 Amazon voucher from LMD [SLA leadership and Management Community] in a drawing, and first prize in the Leaderboard ranking of the EXPO that includes a gift as well. Thank you, SLA, for hosting it so wonderfully.”
—Nabi Hasan

“Thanks to all of the sponsors and exhibiting vendors!!! (I am sneaking into your ‘booths’ to get info and will watch recordings of sessions I missed – Promise!!)”
—Susan Wainscott

“Great speaker and session. Actionable items we can do now!”
—Richard Hulser

“Thank you to @Diana Schapiro & the rest of the SLA staff for organizing & hosting SLA’s first virtual conference. It was very organized and appreciated the range & depth of sessions as well as the level of engagement. So thankful that access will remain open until 13 Nov! Like even with on-premises conferences, lots of conflicting sessions!”
—Christine Marie Geluk

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