We may have become accustomed to endless Zoom calls, constant notifications from webchat and the routine of working from home but conferences moving online, naturally, takes some adjusting to. Participating from behind a screen isn't quite the same as networking across the event from café to show stand, but marketers have worked tirelessly to condense content and alter the structure of events allowing us to network and learn from a wider range of people, at our own pace. We've spoken to some of our colleagues to collect some top tips to take with you on your next virtual conference!
1. Research the virtual platform
The rise in virtual conferencing has seen a parallel rise in virtual conferencing platforms, unsurprisingly. Many of them are completely new to the most of us which means unchartered territory to venture into on the day of the speaker you just can't miss! It's always best to login and try the site out beforehand, more often than not the organisers will have uploaded a video on how best to navigate the platform and how to get to where you want to go.
Preparation is key here, no one needs the added stress of feeling lost and confused with a new site.
2.Make a hitlist of speakers and seminars to attend
One of the upsides to virtual conferencing is all of your speakers and seminars are in one place, no more will you be rushing from room to room and having to sacrifice talks that overlapped. By reviewing the event timetable and drawing up a list of people/companies you'd love to see, you'll be able to schedule your time more accordingly and all from the comfort of your desk chair.
Targeting the influencers before hand allows you to 1) justify your attendance to your boss, and 2)qualify if the event is of value to you.
3. Schedule your time
For the organisationally-minded among us, a scheduled week makes everything seem clearer and less intimidating. Treat the conference as you would a working day, timetable your events, one-to-one sessions and meetings so that you can know where you want to be and at what time. This also means you can block off your calendar for post-seminar note taking, group de-briefs and all important interruptions from your family.
A lot of these platforms allow you to add sessions to a built in calendar, ensuring that on the day you can just rock up and you already know how long you'll need.
4. Build in time for you
Conferences, virtual or otherwise, can be a fast-paced affair that leave you little time to switch-off and breathe, so ensure that you are scheduling time for you. Taking a moment to take a lap around the garden, weather permitting, make a cup of coffee or do a couple of stretches, this allows your eyes a break from the screen and your body a bit of movement to get the blood flowing.
By scheduling your time you know how long you have to make that cuppa, or do that lap so now you can focus with a boosted mood!
5. Attend with others
Working from home can be isolating, especially when conferences are so excellent for the social opportunities they give us. But being at home doesn't have to stop you from attending seminars and talks with your colleagues, share your schedules and pick functions that work for all of you.
Set aside some time afterwards to have a discussion and this will allow everyone to feel more connected as well as sharing different views to enrich the experience.
6. Set up appointments and network!
Just because we're not face-to-face doesn't mean we can't casually network with a range of contacts and leads across the event. Use social media for informal conversations and discussions on content and book out time with people within the event to video call for longer, more in-depth opportunities.
Good event platforms have granular search functionality, so use it to be sure you are engaging with relevant people and avoid time wasters.
7. Take advantage of cross-platform conversations
Use all the tools at your disposal to engage with colleagues and contacts: social media, emails and conference forums are all great tools to get involved with. They allow you to ask questions to specific individuals or ignite group discussions, as well as build your connections and your own influence level.
Although, we all know that notifications can be the biggest distraction so whilst in important seminars or meetings, ensure your alerts are silenced. This allows you to engage fully and make the most of your time. The notification will still be there when you're finished!
8. Make use of giveaways and free tools
There will be a number of free tools and giveaways available, make sure you take advantage of them, you'll be surprised at what people will give you for free if you just ask!
9. Set aside time to review and re-watch
Another perk of virtual conferencing is that the event organisers will most probably have an archive of resources whether it be case studies, seminar recordings or key discussions. You can revisit something you particularly enjoyed and catch-up on talks you weren't able to make. This assurance that everything is just a click away allows you to take the event at your own pace.
10. Take command of your next virtual conference
Now you've got all the knowledge you need to succeed at your next virtual conference!
If you're looking for a healthcare, technology and innovation driven event to attend, WiFi SPARK is exhibiting at the HETT Reset conference from the 8th-12th of February. We'll be engaging in discussions on a range of topics with our focus being on reducing patient isolation and bolstering emotional wellbeing.
Register now to put all your new virtual conferencing skills to the test!