Your participation in a virtual conference allows you to choose from a broader list of sessions and networking opportunities. You may also hear speakers you might not have been able to see before as well as network and learn with more people.
However, the biggest difference is your focus. You will not have the physical stimulation of people and big rooms that the in-person conference provides. Your focus will be watching a computer screen. Conversely, virtual conferences usually provide shorter programs each day over more than one day.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time:
Put the Event on Your Calendar
Review the schedule of events, choose the events and times of each you plan to attend, and insert them on your calendar once you have registered. Circulate your calendar to those at work as well as family members and friends. Even though you are not physically away, your focus is at the event and you want to make the most of it.
Learn How to Navigate the Event Program Platform
An hour or so before (or even the day prior) the conference, go into the event hub of the event platform to figure out how to go to sessions, adjust your audio, and work out any glitches. You can also look for an online tutorial for help. See our post on Zoom tutorials.
Live vs. On Demand Sessions
When deciding which sessions to choose, do not forget to check if they are Live or Recorded to view later. This may allow you to block out less watch time on your calendar if you can view recorded sessions at another time.
Make sure your concentrated learning is not hampered by your hunger. Plan for your coffee breaks and mealtimes, including what you will have and what you need to do to get it, i.e., order out, make it yourself, etc.
Long Hand is Best
Keep your hands off your mouse and keyboard. Maintain your focus by going to full screen and writing your notes in long hand. Forget the rest of your electronic devices as well. To communicate and network with other attendees, answer live polls and more using the mobile event app. You can set your cellphone to silent or “do not disturb” so all your attention is on the session.
Attend with Others
Events are more fun when you experience them with others. Discuss keynotes and things you found interesting with friends and co-workers after the event or by messaging key points during it. We are planning opportunities for engagement and networking – take advantage of them.
Stand and Walk Around
Make sure you build into your personal calendar time to stand, stretch, and walk so you keep yourself refreshed. If you are not on the screen, stand while watching. Moving can help you wake up and get you re-focused.
Virtual conferences are for learning and networking. Set appointments in advance with colleagues or friends to meet and network at the Happy Hours or in the Breakout sessions.
Create a time to Review, and Re-watch
Virtual conferences sometimes allow you to see content On-Demand during or right after the conference. Set aside time after each conference day to review your notes and view on-demand sessions you missed.
Remember to Make Connections as You Learn!
If you would like to learn more about this year’s PCW conference for nonprofits, visit our conference page.