2022 has been a milestone year for AMEE in many ways: we celebrated our 50th anniversary, welcomed a new CEO and appointed our first transatlantic president. It’s also the year we returned to face-to-face conferencing after the COVID pandemic and the first time we’ve attempted to run a fully hybrid conference, across all time zones. In the end, we welcomed over 4,700 participants representing 87 countries across the world, 2,055 speakers and 563 sessions, over 50 companies and 164 exhibitors, either face-to-face in Lyon or remotely via Swapcard.
It’s always a relief when the delegate feedback starts coming in and is overwhelmingly positive.
A large chunk of my conference time is always taken up with attending meetings but I managed to find time to attend a handful of programmed sessions. The quality of the work presented, particularly in the research paper and doctoral report sessions, was extremely high, but what surprised and pleased me most was that the quality of the presentations was also better than I remember from previous face-to-face conferences. Visual aids were better used and less text-heavy, people made better use of the microphones and their delivery was clearer and more engaging. Maybe this was just part of the excitement of being in a live setting again, but I like to think that maybe we’ve all learned something about giving more exciting and engaging talks from our enforced experience of not having a ‘live’ audience to interact with.
The biggest highlight of the conference for me was catching up with old friends and colleagues. Some I haven’t seen at all in the last three years; others I’ve spoken to frequently in video calls, but there’s something special about chatting about work projects over breakfast or discussing the conference plenaries in the hotel bar after a long day, that can’t be captured in the virtual space. I’m a big fan of virtual conferences, and it’s something I believe strongly that AMEE should continue to support, but on a personal level, I left the conference feeling energized and enthused about my work in a way that I didn’t expect to, having forgotten the benefits of being surrounded by people with a shared passion for a short, but incredibly intense, space of time.
So what’s next? Well, the feedback is still coming in – if you haven’t already given your feedback there’s still time; the survey will remain open
until Monday 26th September. Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’ll almost certainly retain the hybrid format but will make some changes to the virtual side to make the platform easier to use and navigate. We’ll report back on the key findings of the evaluation and our planned actions once we’ve analysed all the data, but in the meantime, don’t forget that you can still access the recorded conference sessions via your AMEE account – there’s a wealth of content just waiting to be discovered while you wait for AMEE 2023.