Conference season is here! Of course, this year it looks a bit different. Instead of signing in at the front table and snagging seats next to some new pals, you’ll be setting up your computer as the main stage.
For some, this is going to be a major learning curve. Virtual events can be tougher to follow and engage with. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of best practices to show up ready and take on any online event you choose to attend this year.
Don’t forget, if you haven’t yet, there is still time to purchase your MozCon Virtual ticket!
To get the most out of your online event, you need to go in with an intention. That way you’ll be more likely to gain something from the experience.
Ask yourself, what are you hoping to achieve? Some examples could be:
Many events will provide you with schedules ahead of time — look at them! (Pssst…if you haven’t yet, now is the perfect time to check out the agenda for MozCon Virtual.)
These schedules can help you go into the conference with a clear idea of how you’re going to spend your time. Going in with a plan will allow you to focus on the content of the event and your intentions each day, as opposed to wasting time frantically trying to decide what sessions you’re going to attend.
Once you know what your intentions are and you have the event schedule, determine what will be the most beneficial content for you. This can be especially helpful when the event has multiple tracks, very few break times, etc.
Choosing your sessions may come down to a process of elimination, and it’s much easier to eliminate sessions when you have some sort of goal in mind.
Things to consider when choosing your sessions are:
Your intention may be to broaden your horizons this year, so instead of opting to see presentations with the same topics or speakers that you saw last year, you may see someone new discussing something you find interesting but haven’t had time to explore. You may have a tight schedule and not be able to make anything past 3pm. If some of the sessions will be available after the conference, it may be worth checking out topics you wouldn’t have otherwise.
When you’re planning out your schedule, you need to make sure you build in time for breaks. This means time to eat, time to decompress, time to refill your coffee cup, and time to do work or home stuff.
Conferences usually have a lot of breaks and that’s for good reason. Ideally, you’re going to be learning a lot. But if you try to learn it all at once without giving your brain a break, very little of it will stick.
So, be sure to listen to your body. If you start to feel foggy or overwhelmed, take a break, grab some water, and move around a bit.
Something else you want to account for when planning your virtual event agenda is when you’re going to network. Some conferences will have time to network built in, but others won’t.
You’ll want to dedicate time to get to know the other attendees by joining conversations and adding people on social media. This will look a bit different in the virtual space, as you won’t be meeting for coffee or chatting in the lobby, but try to stay creative! Zoom chats and video calls are a great way to connect with new or old friends.
Check out our recent blog on networking online like a champ for more tips.
At the end of each day, take some time to reflect. Think back to what your intention was, what you did throughout the day to fulfill that intention, and what you can put into action moving forward.
This is a great exercise to ensure you’re making the most out of the event. Far too often, we take in all of the information and do nothing with it! That’s why we like to suggest creating at least three action items at the end of each day.
Okay, it’s the first day of the conference and you’re about to jump in front of the computer. BUT! Before you do that, you need to make sure you have everything you need to be successful.
Having a clean slate for notes will help you stay focused while attending any conference (virtual or otherwise). So grab a new, crisp notebook or create a new document file on your computer before you get started.
If you decide to go the computer route, be sure you close all other tabs and turn off notifications! You want to be sure that your attention stays on the conference.
With that new notebook or document of yours, you’ll want to take the most effective notes possible. With that in mind, here are a few things to take note of:
To ensure that you’re on track to capture each of these things, when you go into each session, write your intention for the session at the top of your notes page. Then, divide your pages by “what I learned,” “how to apply,” and “what to share.” This will keep your notes nice and organized and give you a visual cue on whether or not you’re getting what you expected out of the session. It will also make your end-of-day recap much easier.
When it comes to virtual events, one of the biggest benefits is that you often get the slide decks and video bundles afterward. We suggest finding out whether the event you’re attending offers those things before you start taking notes, as it may lighten your note-taking burden a bit.
Perhaps the most important things to have during a virtual conference are the snacks and drinks! As you know, at MozCon, we take this part very seriously, so we expect nothing less if you attend our virtual event.
Brain food can help you stay focused. Some of our favorite snacks are granola bars, nuts, veggies, and of course, donuts. However, you have full control over the spread this year.
Be sure to also have plenty of water and your favorite caffeinated beverage as well!
You’re ready to go! All that’s left is showing up. With virtual events, this can be hard to do. Especially if you know that the content is going to be available after the event is over. But there is so much to be gained by being a part of the live event and the conversations happening around it.
So show up, and show out!
PS: If you’re looking for a virtual event to attend this year, Roger is still hoping to give you a virtual hug at MozCon Virtual 2020.