Whether we like it or not, virtual conferences are the new normal.
At RocketRez, we miss in-person conferences. Getting to see our customers face-to-face, the occasional morning rush to make the first session (after being out way too late the night before), and laughing about great memories are all great parts of our industry culture.
One day we will get back to in-person conferences, but until then we still need to meet and connect. In the past 12 months, we have attended 8 Virtual Conferences.
Through them all we have begun to learn some tricks that help make the best out your investment in attending.
Here is our list to make the most out of them:
- Use a calendar link to schedule meetings
- Schedule time for breaks
- Bring your team
- Go to the virtual happy hours
- Prep your tech
- Turn your camera on
- Keep hydrated
- Dress for virtual success
- Bring paper
1. Use a calendar link to schedule meetings
If you make a calendar link, you can send it to people you want to meet with and they will be able to book time with the open availability you have designated. It is a great timesaver, avoiding the back and forth of emailing available times between multiple parties.
Calendly offers an easy-to-use, free version to connect to your calendar.
2. Schedule time for breaks
Each show will have an agenda that often includes a block of free time between sessions.
In some ways, virtual conferences can be just as tiring as in person conferences. Scheduling time to take a mental and physical break is a really good idea! Being in front of your screen for long periods of time can be tough on your eyes.
Go for a small walk and get your body moving between sessions. This could also be a good time to connect with your team midday on how things are going.
3. Bring your team
Virtually, of course. Just like in-person conferences, we suggest you go to sessions with your key team members. You each may recall different pieces of the session and it helps to know you're going "together."
Make plans to catch up and discuss keynote sessions with your coworkers, or message them throughout about points you found interesting. Have your company chat open, be it slack, teams, zoom chat or skype. Talking in real-time is helpful to keep the dialogue as you would at in-person conferences.
It can also be great to reconvene with your team at the end of each day to review key meetings and takeaways.
4. Go to Virtual Happy Hours
Grab a cocktail/beer/wine and connect with others from the industry. It isn't the same as in person, but in some ways it can be better.
We have had lots of fun going to these and have made some great new connections (not to mention the cost savings!).
5. Prep and know your tech
Here is a suggested pre-show checklist:
- Familiarize yourself with the platform that the conference is hosted on. In most cases, Zoom is used.
- Choose a quiet and bright spot in case you end up on camera and chatting.
- If you cannot avoid background noise try this cool feature in Zoom
- Test your video settings - (Zoom tutorial).
- Check mic settings (Zoom tutorial).
- Use the emojis, otherwise it can feel like a one way conversation.
6. Turn Camera ON
It can be hard to connect with someone when we can't see them. If you are comfortable and it is permitted, it is highly recommended to go on camera.
7. Keep Hydrated and Energized
Keep water and your favorite caffeinated drinks nearby. Take moments to stretch. This will help keep you focused and energized.
8. Dress for Virtual Success
This one goes for working from home in general. According to a study performed by psychological scientists at Northridge, Columbia and California State University, our clothing has an impact on our thoughts and our ability to think in an abstract manner. It affects not only how others perceive us, but how we perceive ourselves.
Likewise, according to a study published in the Human Resource Development Quarterly, “Respondents felt most authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire but friendliest when wearing casual or business casual attire. Significant two-way interactions were found between dress preference and mode of dress worn on self-perceptions of productivity, trustworthiness, creativity, and friendliness.”
9. Bring Paper
Taking notes on paper will help you concentrate while the sessions are going. It seems obvious, but keeping you off your mouse and keyboard will help you focus and grab key points better.