15 Tips to Get the Most From Your Online Conference
RAFT Team, April 20, 2020
Virtual meetings provide great opportunity to move things forward. And we’re learning some great lessons as we move more towards the online space.
- Hour-long meetings can be replaced with a short email.
- Virtual communication requires flexibility, empathy, and patience.
- The virtual world can innovate!
Instead of canceling in-person conferences, many businesses and organizations are turning them into online experiences. As you navigate this new normal, you can do many things to prepare for video meetings and online conferences. Explore these planning tips to make the most of your time before, during and after your online conference.
Before Your Online Conference
Clear your calendar.
Close your email. Put your phone in do-not-disturb. Lean in to your conference experience. Talk to others in your home to see if you can work together to limit interruptions.
Invite friends and coworkers.
If you have friends or family who might be interested in your online conference, invite them! It’s great to have someone to talk with afterwards about your experience, what you learned, and how it changed your perspective.
Grab a notebook.
Set aside a notebook you can use to take notes. This will help you remember the content covered.
Take a few moments to review the online video conference schedule. Make a few notes of what you hope to glean from at least 3 different sessions. This will help build anticipation and keep your enthusiasm high. It will also help you continue to make your attendance a priority.
Prepare your food.
To minimize distractions on the day on your virtual conference, take the time to plan what you will eat and supplement with snacks and beverages.
- Plan for a simple breakfast the morning of your virtual conference. This will help you step unrushed into your learning with your brain and body already engaged and ready to learn.
- Most online conferences provide a brief lunch break. Plan this midday meal ahead of time so you have a more relaxed, refreshing break.
- Don’t forget to plan dinner. If your virtual conference is an all-day affair, you probably won’t want to spend much time preparing dinner for yourself. Even better, see if you can delegate this task to someone else for the day.
- Snacks and beverages will keep your mind sharp throughout the day.
Plan to network.
One of the best things about conferences is the ability to network. The same can be true for a virtual conference. Learn more about the speakers. See how else is talking about attending and reach out to them. Don’t wait for the conference to start these conversations. By getting to know other attendees, you’ll deepen your conference experience.
Plan to engage.
You may be tempted to remain a lurker in an online conference. The more you engage, the more meaningful the conference will become. If you're an introvert, you may need to plan ahead for this.
During Your Online Conference
Log in early.
Make sure everything is working BEFORE the conference begins. You don’t want to miss anything!
Studies show that when you handwrite your notes, you engage both sides of your brain and can keep the content longer. So rather than typing as you listen, grab your notebook instead. Capture the main points. Don’t capture things word for word like a transcription. Slow your brain down, engage in active listening, and translate what you learn to the page.
Take part in chat discussions and surveys during sessions. This deepens your understanding and makes your time more meaningful. Don’t let someone’s “celebrity status” intimidate you or keep you from asking a question. Most of these individuals are approachable and down-to-earth and enjoy the interaction.
Close any programs, tabs, and email while you’re attending your online conference. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Let yourself remain fully present and focused during your time.
If you’re in an all-day online conference, get up and stretch from time to time. This can reduce fatigue and gets your blood flowing again. Take a session standing up with your laptop, tablet or phone on the counter.
After Your Online Conference
Take a few moments to email the conference organizers to thank them for the time they invested in creating such a significant experience. If there was a speaker who shared something especially meaningful, thank them as well.
If you have questions that didn’t get answered during the conference, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask. Most speakers are very willing to expound more on a particular topic but find they don’t have the time to respond to everything during an online conference.
Share your experience with others.
If your online conference taught you a lot, helped you connect, or was a bright spot in your week, share that with others!
In sum? Dive into your online conference experience, remain present, and let it change you in positive ways. Take full advantage of these inspiring, educational, and life-changing virtual experiences.