From 2 to 4 October 2022, I attended the AMCOA2022 conference at Sun City, and it reinforced my opinion that while we have been lucky to have virtual platforms in the past 3 years, there is nothing like the real thing!  This conference was attended by Medical Council Members and Practitioners from all over Africa, and it was officially opened by South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla.  It was attended at the venue by several hundred delegates (I don’t know the exact number), and there was also the option to attend virtually.

With there being the option of virtual attendance at a significantly reduced registration fee, and without the cost of accommodation and travel, why you may ask, would one want to attend live?  Well let me give you some reasons:

  1. Meeting new people
  2. Future collaboration potential
  3. Getting out of the office
  4. Socializing
  5. Change of routine
  6. Freedom from connection pitfalls!
  7. Revisiting the wardrobe
  8. Self-pampering

I think we have all realized and appreciated the benefits of virtual platforms when it comes to business operations, but we should not forget the benefits of real, live platforms.  I see a future with a combination of the two, I suppose a kind of hybrid model.  However, as a Facilitator and Presenter of workshops and training, I will always prefer to have my audience in the room with me.  I think part of the reason for this is that more than 50% of communication is non-verbal, and you just lose so much of this when presenting or interacting through a computer screen.  I’m sure audiences will agree.

At the AMCOA conference I met some fabulous people with whom I will keep in touch and perhaps collaborate in the future.  It was great to have three days out of my office, and the beach party that they put on at the Valley of the Waves on the Monday evening was an event where you would have thought everyone had known each other for years.  Although it was a busy three days, it was so different from my usual routine, it almost felt like a holiday.  When doing my presentation in one of the break-away rooms, I can’t tell you how wonderful it was not to have to worry about my connection dropping or that of my audience.  And to see the faces of the people in the room was simply fantastic!  Not to mention dragging out some of those old dress-up items from my wardrobe, that I have not had a use for in such a long time.  And finally, let’s not forget the pleasures of the little pastries and cappuccinos at tea-time, and the lunches that are often skipped back at the office.  The bank balance may have taken a bit of a knock, and a few extra hours on the exercise bike might be needed, but let me tell you, I can’t wait for the opportunity to attend the next one.

Yes, live conferences and workshop are quite simply better in so many ways than virtual ones, but thank you Zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet, Webex, and all your friends that I haven’t met for making the latter possible when it was all we had.   


Take care everyone.

Your Partner in Mental Health Matters @ Work,


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