Pivot…. unprecedented times…. new normal…. all our favorite sayings in 2020! But the Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advancements in Children (SENTAC) embraced them all for their December 2020 Conference and pivoted to a virtual platform to host a two-day joint conference with the Aerodigestive Society on December 4th and 5th.
There of course were many concerns as the decision was made to move in this direction. Would it cost too much? How would attendance be? Would the audience stay engaged? How would the technology hold up? How exactly do we do this?!? But the success speaks for itself. The two-day conference ran from 8am to 5pm both days and had multiple tracts with dozens of panels and speakers from around the world. There were six different abstract sessions with over 60 abstracts presented, three awards and on the evening of day one, a social academic bowl with teams from five different hospitals across the nation. In a normal year, the average in person attendance would be in the ballpark of 300–350……but they had over 550 attendees from 14 different counties including Australia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, US, and Canada. While year-end financials are still being finalized, the meeting generated a significant revenue, after expenses.
The positive feedback from both those that presented and those that attended was tremendous. What we are beginning to realize is that there are amazing outcomes from these forced changes that can carry us into the future and expand our reach, membership and information sharing in ways we never imagined…. or would have tried prior to these unprecedented times.