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Making the Most of a Virtual Conference

September 10, 2020 | Strategy
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We're giving you the 411 on how to make the most out of your virtual conference.

2020 is the year for all things virtual!

We’ve gone virtual with meetings, fun-runs and major political conventions. Even happy hours are virtual, so it’s not surprising that professional conferences are shifting to a virtual model. Speakers, vendors and attendees are taking note and planning accordingly. And while you may not be able to casually meander through the exhibit hall, enjoy the passed plate of appetizers or congregate with colleagues outside of the keynote presentation, there are ways to duplicate those same experiences at a virtual conference with a little pre-planning and creativity. Because 2020 is a year that’s showing us all how to be resilient and creative. We’re marketers after all!

Plan ahead

Be sure to review the agenda and topics in advance of the event. Just like a traditional conference, a little research will help you select the topics that make the most sense for your professional development and the future of your organization. Don’t be afraid to use this time to branch out and learn a new skill or expand your understanding of an emerging topic. Bring some fresh ideas and perspectives back to your organization with the insight from those that have gone before you.

Many conferences are offering extended opportunities to view presentations and other course material after the fact. So even if you attend the obvious choices for your organization live, log back in and see what else is available that was pre-recorded. This is a perk that’s new (or newly free) in this virtual culture, so take advantage!

Make it a team effort

If you’re attending with others from your organization, try and break up the sessions so you’re each learning about different topics.  Regroup at the end of the day to share the most exciting lessons learned or more easy-wins that are ready to implement at your organization. Schedule in-person micro-groups with your team or other local colleagues, at a safe distance, to allow collaborative brainstorming and group reactions.

If you’re registered as the sole representative from your organization take this as a time to brainstorm with other colleagues and network. Be bold and take advantage of network opportunities!

Don’t be afraid to use this time to branch out and learn a new skill or expand your understanding of an emerging topic.

Create a space and protect your time

Remove yourself from your standard workspace so your brainpower and time are protected (like would be the case if you were in-person). And wear jeans and your open-toed shoes! Turn off email and text distractions if possible. When you have breaks between sessions check in at the office, but stay focused during the presentations to make the most of your investment.

Keep a conference notebook or journal

Set each day with an intention and end the sessions with some reflection. A journal will keep your conference notes organized and actionable. Try some of the following page headings to inspire your day and your note-taking.

Before the day starts:

  • Daily goal
  • Today I’m excited for
  • Distractions to avoid

Daily wrap-up:

  • Today’s wins
  • What I learned today
  • How I’ll improve

Raise your hand

Be a part of the conversation. Don’t worry if you’re not comfortable with the topics or feel like your input may not resonate. Just like we’re told as kids, there are no stupid questions and odds are someone else in the room is having a similar thought. Telling your story with your organization’s insights will help broaden the conversation and add depth to the other feedback.

Be social

Take note of dedicated hashtags, and share your tweets and photos on social media. It’s a great way to continue to engage after the conference ends and see how others are participating from their geographically diverse spaces in the virtual setting.

Join Us!

We’re attending the upcoming Navigating A New Reality – Health Care Leaders Confront the Future hosted by SHSMD and AHA’s Center for Health Innovation. The fun is happening virtually September 14th – 16th. Let us know you’re attending, and we’ll see you there! Don’t miss out. Register Now.

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