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Top 8 Tips for Attending a Virtual Conference

It’s well into 2020, and the virtual event has become an inventive shift to ensure social distancing. While teams learn to work remotely, team members have the added challenge of navigating attending these virtual events and still glean great value from them.

Here are some best practices to help ensure that attending a virtual conference will provide valuable education and also a connection to the community.   

Tip 1: Create a space 

Let’s be real – getting to travel to a conference is one of the exciting perks. Part of this perk is getting to experience a new place with new people. While turning a home office into a unique cityscape might not possible, add something new and unique to your workspace. It could be as simple as a plant or as extravagant as new lighting. Moving your workspace to a new corner or new room can also be invigorating. Be mindful that there is a barrier or door that divides the workspace from your living space’s everyday distractions.  

Tip 2: Set strategic goals and takeaways for the conference

Now is the time to be super organized and intentional. Decide the top goals or issues the content of the conference can help address or solve. They will be important when planning out how to attend the event.  

Tip 3: Design your schedule like it’s an in-person event

Agendas at virtual conferences can be even more overwhelming than in-person events. While it’s still only possible to go to one session at a time, allowing for moments to digest information is still crucial to maximizing takeaways. In fact, it might be even more crucial since the work office’s and home office’s distractions will be much more than when being isolated at the event. When attending a virtual conference, be critical about the sessions’ content and organize them according to how they fit the goals decided in tip #2.  

Tip 4: Start the morning right 

If working remotely outside of an office, morning routines can be great for setting up the day for success. They become especially important when attending virtual conferences. Waking up in the same bed and sitting down at the same desk as always doesn’t encourage the same enthusiastic energy that a remote, in-person event can. Add something special to the routine to make an intentional mental shift – yoga, a special breakfast preparation, a walk or run, quiet time, or even download a free introductory app to learn a new language. Do something you may not have done before to make it a special and unique experience. Here are 6 tips for morning routine add-ons. 

Tip 5: Create a Network and get social 

Just because a conference is virtual doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities to meet new people and make those networking connections. If others in your company are attending, make it fun in your own way by adding a virtual get-together to your morning routine. If attending solo, reach out to those you may have met at previous events. Hosting companies and sponsors are working hard to recreate social events with virtual networking moments. Seek them out and add them to the schedule. If you tend to be introverted, look out for a future blog with a few extra tips for attending virtual conferences. And if you’re more on the extroverted side, don’t fret. There will be some tips about how to satisfy your superpowers too.  

Tip 6: Don’t forget the expo 

Even in-person expos can be challenging to navigate. The expo is where goal setting is also crucial. Identifying goals and issues can serve as a blueprint for what to explore in the expo. Knowing your most pressing questions can help in effective, direct communication with companies showcased in the expo spaces. These are also great spaces to explore if trying to decide which sessions or classes to put into the schedule.  

Tip 7: Leverage your technologies  

Again, treat a virtual conference as an off-site experience. Set an out-of-office message. Keep a finger on social media by setting up notifications for pertinent hashtags or mentions about the conference and participating companies or people. Use Zoom or Teams for coffee breaks with peers or acquaintances also attending the event. Or even cast sessions to a TV if it’s a special keynote. 

Tip 8: Meal plan 

It sounds strange, but it’s easy to take for granted the meals an event provides. Virtual conferences haven’t given up the long days and packed schedules. Use meal delivery apps, pre-prepare meals, and do the week’s grocery shopping ahead of time to keep evenings relaxed and errand free. After all, those evenings will serve as much needed downtime – or catch up time for those pesky work tasks.  

Making a mental and physical space for virtual conferences can be the difference between home office virtual burnout and a valuable couple of days that could propel projects and initiatives. 

Want more tips from this series like a Virtual Conference Packing List and Best Practices for After the Virtual Conference is over? Subscribe. 

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