It's over 10 years since we ran Autism99, an online conference designed to bring people together to discuss this subject so important to so many people. That's not news, I know. But as Autism2010 draws to a close, I thought I'd take a look back at how a small idea grew in to something that has helped tens of thousands of people from over 160 countries.
The concept of an online conference is a simple one:
- ask experts to write a paper (or present a video) and make themselves available to answer questions online
- then invite everyone affected by autism to attend: people on the spectrum; their families, teachers and carers; medical professionals; and even policy makers.
Of course, below that lies all of the complexity of running a real event, bar the venue logistics. Authors need to be chased, editors and journalists buttered up to give you free coverage etc etc.
The results? Well here are some of my personal highlights over the last 10 years:
- Autism isolates people, and also make it difficult to travel to "real" events. This series of conferences has given over 50,000 people access to information and World experts, either for free or at very low cost
- We know (because they told us) that there have been many professional relationships and friendships formed through "attending" these virtual events
- The first few conferences were bespoke web sites. But in the end we managed to set Autism Cymru up with a conference centre so that they can run as many events as they want without any technical input
- In the last few years, Autism Cymru have have started to charge a low entrance fee for the conferences. It's not just Rupert Murdoch who need to make things sustainable, but our conversion rate was way higher!
- Did I mention that we had several World leaders (including Tony Blair) give opening addresses at that first conference Autism99? It was the time of dotcom madness, and we made the most of it for our clients!
If you'd like to build an unparalleled contacts book and be seen as thought leaders in your sector, talk to Nemisys about putting on an online conference.