12 ways to get more from a virtual conference 

12 ways to get more from a virtual conference 

Riley Cullen's Layout avatar

Virtual conferences boomed during the early months of the pandemic, and more than two years later, virtual attendance is showing no signs of slowing. 

That’s a great thing—going virtual has allowed even more industry professionals from all walks of life to attend the best conferences, share their experiences, and uncover new strategies for growth and improvement. In fact, about 67% of event planners say they will continue using hybrid events, even as in-person events are resuming across the globe.

Sometimes, though, attending virtually can feel less engaging than attending a conference in-person. In-person attendance is exciting, with a bustling lobby full of new faces and a refreshing change in scenery. It’s difficult to build that same sense of anticipation when you’re following along from your home office. While a virtual event is obviously dependent on its programming, which is out of your control, there are ways you can put in a little additional effort to get the most out of virtual attendance.

Use these twelve tips to devise a more engaging experience for yourself before, during, and after attending a virtual conference!

Before

Prepare thoughtful questions

The process of preparing a list of questions you hope to answer will help you focus your thoughts on exactly what you’re hoping to get out of a conference and get you in the right mindset for learning. Make sure your questions make sense for the content track you’re taking. For example, a developer conference may require more technical questions, whereas a designer or marketer’s questions may be more open-ended.

Block off your time

Do this so you’re not interrupted by colleagues, clients, or employees during your sessions. When people know you’re busy doing something constructive, they’re more likely to leave you alone. If necessary, set an away message explaining that you’re out for professional development and that you’ll do your best to reply to emails during breaks.

Start networking

If networking is one of your goals, posting on social media and using the conference hashtag or tagging the event is a great way to find others who will be attending. This allows you to start building connections before the conference date even arrives.

Eat breakfast

At in-person events, breakfast or snacks are often provided, so you’re getting something in your stomach without even realizing it. While it’s easy to skip breakfast and roll out of bed later when you’re attending from the comfort of home, a solid breakfast will help increase blood flow to your brain to keep you engaged. If anything, a quick breakfast will help you avoid the distraction of a grumbling stomach. Some people will need to dress in work clothes, do their hair or makeup, and “get ready” to feel fully prepared before a virtual conference, but at the very least, make sure you have something to eat.

During

Show up early

Make sure you don’t miss anything important—and that includes the chats that happen in the virtual lobby—by logging in a little early. Entering even five minutes before the scheduled start time gives you a chance to introduce yourself, interact with other attendees or presenters in the chat, and prepare your mindset for a day of learning.

Minimize distractions

This seems simple enough, but when you’re attending a virtual conference, distractions are everywhere. You may find you need to visit a coffee shop or a local library to truly remove yourself from the distractions of home. Just remember that the dishes or the laundry (or whatever else is distracting you) will still be there when the conference ends, so avoid multitasking and try to remain focused on the important information in front of you.

Take notes

There’s no possible way to remember all that was said during a virtual conference. Taking notes will give you a log of the most important insights you’ve gleaned throughout the day or days. We suggest taking hand-written notes if possible, because the physical act of writing out words will help you retain more of the information presented. That being said, any form of note-taking is better than none. 

Ask your unanswered questions

That list of questions you prepared beforehand isn’t just a thought exercise. One of the benefits of virtual attendance is that you can use the chat to ask relevant questions and get responses from peers or panelists in real time. This serves a networking purpose as well, because you’re putting your name out there as someone who’s engaged and driving conversations about the content at hand.

After

Create an action plan

Write down the ways you’re going to implement or learn more about your top takeaways in the coming weeks. One easy task to add to this list is to take the exit survey if conference organizers send one out. This can help them plan even more insightful content for the next conference!

Reach out to your new contacts

If you connect with anyone in the chat or during a breakout session, you’ll have to nurture that new connection. Strike while the iron is hot by sending them a quick message on LinkedIn to thank them for the great conversation. You can also reach out to presenters to thank them for their time or ask any lingering questions.

Share your new knowledge

Now’s the time to show off what you’ve learned. Create a post for your company blog or a quick graphic with an insightful quote from the conference to share with your followers on social media. This shows both current and potential clients that you’re a person who’s staying on the cutting edge of industry insights and excited about the work you do.

Take advantage of recorded sessions

If you had to miss a session in favor of a more relevant one, distractions got the better of you, or you simply want to soak in even more information from an especially powerful talk, check out the conference’s recorded sessions. If possible, try to figure out which sessions will be recorded beforehand. That way, you’ll know which—if any—of the talks will not be available after the conference, and you’ll take especially great notes during those sessions.

Start attending, start learning

Use these tips to become a more active participant in every virtual conference you attend this year. If you’re looking for a great event to add to your conferences list, don’t forget to register for De{CODE}

This global conference is celebrating the year of the WordPress developer with programming focused on Full Site Editing , Atlas and the future of headless WordPress, and innovations for Local (which recently surpassed 100,000 active users!). Click below to claim your virtual seat today!

Comments ( 0 )

Join the discussion