Planning our 6th Expert Meeting as an online event was no easy task. In my article, you can find out how it came about and why the future points to “hybrid”.

Why the Expert Meeting is needed

As already mentioned in my last blog post, the Expert Meeting “Emission Monitoring at Facilities Requiring a Permit” takes place once a year. As a business unit manager in immission control, I initiated it six years ago.
The following points were important to me:

  1. Our customers should be informed at an early stage about new developments in the field of immission control
  2. The exchange of experience between authorities, operators and service providers (TÜV Rheinland) should be a priority
  3. Customer relations and loyalty are to be strengthened by this annual event

Participation in comparable events is usually quite expensive and the content is not exclusively tailored to the needs of our customers. So I came up with the idea of launching our own training event. The goal is to inform our customers about important innovations at an early stage and to convey the important content in an appealing way through practical examples and dialog with experts.

Expert Meeting 2018

The 3rd Expert Meeting 2018 – when on-site events were still possible

The organization is completely in the hands of a colleague and me. Together we create the program and think about which speakers we can invite: From plant operators to representatives of the authorities, lawyers, and politicians.

For our first event in 2016, we set ourselves the goal of generating 30 to 50 registrations. In total, we had 91 registrations.

A complete success! Since then, we have held an Expert Meeting every year until the Corona crisis.

Online events and their challenges

Last year, the 5th Expert Meeting was supposed to take place in spring. Due to Corona, we moved it to fall, hoping to be able to hold it as usual. We couldn’t, it was held online for the first time. The excitement was great, but everything went smoothly – a good basis on which we could build this year. After all, we also had to give up our hope of reviving the 6th Expert Meeting as a hybrid event. The risk was too great in view of the rising number of infections, so we immediately planned an online event.

Only the speakers, the moderator (that’s me), a colleague from the organization team and the technicians were present on site. Safety was taken care of: we had Corona rapid tests available, kept the distance rules and all those who were not in front of the camera kept their masks on. Nevertheless, the situation was tense and exciting. After so much planning, organization and effort, we hoped that everything would work out and that our participants would enjoy the event.

Ein Teil des technischen Equipments

The technical equipment

Above all, it is also something different for our speakers to speak in front of 100 people or into a camera. Whereas otherwise you get direct feedback from the audience, contact was limited to the chat function, which participants could use to ask questions.

A special challenge was added: Two of the speakers could not be present and had to be connected online.

The test run worked well, but technology sometimes has its pitfalls. Would everything go smoothly on the big day of the event?

Wolfgang Zieger von der MHKW Wiesbaden GmbH und ich als Moderator

Hybrid events are the future

Conclusion from the 6th Expert Meeting “Emission Monitoring in Facilities Requiring a Permit”: Even a Corona pandemic cannot stop our success story. More than 90 participants and only positive feedback. We give the participants the opportunity to evaluate the event as such as well as individual presentations.

That same evening, I received many e-mails with the same wording: “Great event,” “Very informative,” “All-around success”.

And I also received praise from colleagues and our boss. 

That’s simply the best feeling:

Something we’ve been working on for so long has struck a chord and turned out really well. That’s also what motivates me to keep going and to keep improving the Expert Meeting.

The world after Corona will change. As important as face-to-face exchange is, an online event offers advantages for many participants. It saves them travel time and overnight accommodation costs. Virtual opportunities can also be created so that conversations do not fall short during coffee and lunch breaks. An online-only event was the right decision given the circumstances. In the future, hybrid events will be the way to go.


Thorsten Noll

Thorsten Noll

Head of Technical Instructions on Air Quality (TA-Luft) and IED Systems in the Immission Control Department at TÜV Rheinland Energy

Thorsten Noll is Head of the Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control (TA-Luft) and IED Systems Business Unit in the Immission Control Department at TÜV Rheinland Energy. The focus is on emission monitoring of industrial plants. He lives in Woldert-Hilgert in the nearby Westerwald region and enjoys spending time in the countryside, where he is also privately involved in nature conservation and environmental protection. However, he is also regularly drawn to the road to go on a tour on his motorcycle. His career tip for you is: be determined, take on challenges, be open to change and always think positively!

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