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June 2024
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Maximize Your Online Conference Experience

Set yourself up for success when attending a virtual event.

By Amanda Mae Gray

Woman at desk taking notes while watching online conference

Online conferences and conventions provide the opportunity for more people to attend and learn than an in-person event might. However, being an online participant requires a different approach and mindset.

What can you do to set yourself up for success when attending an online convention? Below are seven ways to make the most of your virtual experience before and during the event.

Prepare Beforehand

Set up your space.

Creating an optimal conference environment might look different than your typical work-from-home or office life. Decide on a space that includes a tabletop with a comfortable, supportive chair. Clear your space of clutter and make room for your computer or tablet, phone, drink, snacks, and notes. Keep only what you need for the conference on your desk. This helps create a space that not only feels different but also keeps you focused on the conference. Bring in a new candle or some fresh flowers to make your space feel special.

Make sure you have items such as a notebook, pens, chargers for your devices, and headphones that are comfortable for all-day wear. Wearing headphones often makes it easier to stay focused and eliminates outside distractions.

Get snacks and drinks.

If you were going to the conference in person, what would you eat and drink? Take a trip to the grocery store to grab some of those special treats, including drinks that you enjoy and will fuel you. This is a great way to feel like you are still doing something special while keeping you focused on the conference.

Visit the platform, website, and agenda.

Become familiar with the technology of the event to make your experience go smoothly. If it’s an option, create a profile with a photo of yourself so that people can easily recognize you. The organization’s website can have great insights for the event so that you don’t miss a thing. Likewise, it’s good to review and print out the agenda to keep track of the conference schedule.

Maximize During

Get dressed for the day.

Think about how you would have packed if you were traveling to the conference. It’s easy to dress comfortably, but if you get ready as though you were heading out the door, it changes your mindset. Plus, when you turn on your camera (and you should turn it on if there is an opportunity), you will feel more confident.

Capitalize on networking.

Utilize the private message feature if available to connect with people who seem interesting. Have your LinkedIn or website link ready so you can quickly send it to others.

Reach out to the speakers after they present or while on networking breaks in virtual rooms. Follow them on their social media channels or send them a quick email on the spot should they share their contact information. It will make their day to know someone paid attention and you will have a new connection.

Use the chat feature.

Most platforms have some form of a chat or messaging feature. Add important points or quotes from the speaker, share a personal example, and respond when a speaker asks you to. This will help you remember the main points and give you the chance to easily network, plus it keeps you engaged.

Finding a fellow attendee to chat with during and after the event can also help you feel connected and remember what you’ve learned.

Take physical breaks.

Sitting all day for multiple days can be tiresome. Every hour, make it a point to stand up for 2 to 3 minutes. Stretch your arms above your head, move from side to side, and take a few deep breaths. Just make sure your camera and microphone are off while you’re doing this!

Creating an optimal conference environment might look different than your typical work-from-home or office life.

When there are scheduled breaks, go for a walk outside or around the house to move your body and get the blood flowing. If the event is hybrid, whenever the in-person audience does something physical, do so as well.

After the conference has concluded, review your notes and take time to figure out your action steps from your learning. If you have a colleague who attended as well, meet up for a coffee so you can chat about it. Switch things up from your normal routine to make the experience different and memorable.


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