COVID-19 and PreSum-20

Photo: AARP

Pity any news organization, journalist, or simple blogger trying to stay ahead of the curve on Coronavirus. Deeper sympathies for anyone responsible for a gathering of people, trying to act appropriately and not rashly. And if you are trying to do both things? Welcome to our world…

We are glad we didn’t try to publish this post last month, as it would have changed four times since. And of course, we are grateful that the Presentation Summit does not take place until August — at least we don’t have to act in desperate or harried fashion. We are trying our best to balance the caution that this global pandemic demands with the optimism and can-do attitude for which we are famous.

Here is what we think we know:

  • It might take years for public gatherings like the Presentation Summit to return to normal, and that which we call normal might be altered forever.
  • The wonderful international flavor that graces our conferences every year might not be as prominent, as global travel restrictions might remain in place throughout the summer.
  • We might have fewer people attending in general.
  • The family reunion-style hugs that many loyal patrons indulge in might be muted.
  • Our buffet breakfasts will be in strict adherence with CDC guidelines in place at the time. Omelettes and fresh fruit that require shared serving utensils might give way to individually wrapped muffins and single-serving yogurt containers.
  • Certain members of our presenting team might not be able to attend, and 11th-hour decisions might result in our breakout sessions going dark for a particular time slot.

The size of our event (capped at 200) has been below one of the thresholds set by King County. On March 17, the county dropped that threshold to 50 and soon after that instituted sheltering in place, banning gatherings of any size at all. As restrictions ease, King County is expected to roll back by those same thresholds — 50 people and then 200 people. There are several other factors that work in our favor, three in particular:

  • We seek out properties that give us elbow room. The Presentation Summit never crams you in like sardines in a can. 
  • We do not have a crowded exhibit hall like a big trade show does. In our exhibit area, we can easily create space between our exhibitors to eliminate close encounters of the unhealthy kind.
  • Ironically, holding a conference in the unofficial U.S. ground zero for the virus increases the likelihood that it will have run its course by August.

 It has never not been the case that we place the health and safety of all of our patrons above all other considerations and this year will only be exceptional in the degree to which that is visible. We will have hand sanitizers coming out of our metaphorical ears and we will have a medical professional on the premises 24 x 7 who will be completely up to speed with all CDC advisories and guidelines.

But we understand that exactly none of this might be within our control, or yours. If your doctor, your employer, or your government says you can’t travel, then you can’t travel. And we want to assure you that we will be as flexible as a small organization such as ours can be:

  • You will be able to designate a substitute to attend in your place at any time, including after the event has begun.
  • You can postpone your registration to 2021 and transfer 100% of monies paid to it. We will even divulge to you the time and place for next year. (Just how big of a deal is that? State secrets have been leaked from the White House more readily than anyone has ever found out about next year before its time.)
  • Every one of our sessions will be recorded and we will make available a virtual attendance experience, including high-resolution video, professional-grade audio, and access to our complete download site of all speaker handouts and example files.
  • And of course, if the conference is unable to take place, you would get a complete refund.

Events are moving quickly and this posting will be updated as often as is necessary. The information here is what we believe in our hearts as of March 27. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us any time and in any form. The Contact button at the bottom of the page provides all of the options.

We remain confident that, when safe to do so, we will be able to greet you at the Summit warmly and enthusiastically. Just maybe not with open arms.

Now that you have made it most of the way through this article, might you like to join our mailing list? We only send it out about once a month, it’s usually thought-provoking articles (occasionally thoughtless, so say our critics), and it’s never spammy.