By: Nusrat Ahmed
The Covid-19 Pandemic has dramatically impacted our way of life, especially in professional settings. The shift to the hybrid world of work can be confusing and frustrating at times. Professional conferences, which play an important role in our professional development, had to pivot to a virtual format during the pandemic. However, the concept of a virtual conference isn’t something new. Although gathering in-person has unique benefits, attending a conference virtually can be just as rewarding if you follow some simple steps to prepare in advance.
Still feeling hesitant? It’s totally normal and okay! I’m happy to share my experience including some important tips to help you get the most out of your next virtual conference.
Tips before the event
Review the agenda: Taking time to review the agenda for the conference ahead of time to help you feel prepared. You don’t want to waste time reading the descriptions and miss the beginning of the session you wanted to attend.
Decide to attend sessions that fuel your interests: Build your excitement for the day by making selections early. Of course, you can change your mind later and attend more sessions if you’d like, but deciding on a few to start is the best way to approach the day.
Review your technology to avoid any tech-related issues during the event: Technology can be unpredictable sometimes, but do your best to make sure it works in your favor on the day of the event. Check your connections, make sure you’ve downloaded the right app, and use the best method – a computer or tablet. Although a cell phone would serve the purpose, it is best to use a computer or tablet to help you better navigate through the conference sessions. Being comfortable with the technology will help you save a great deal of time, anxiety, and stress.
During the event
Carry a positive mindset: Be excited and “show up shakin” as Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, licensed therapist and public speaker, says. It’s okay to be nervous, but it’s important to be open and optimistic about it. You’re here to learn, grow, and develop, so enjoy the process. From my experience as an emerging young professional, at my most recent virtual conference, I felt I had renewed energy, fresh ideas, and the motivation to make change.
Take notes: I can’t stress enough how important it is to take notes during the sessions. Taking notes will help you reflect back on your experience and you’ll feel productive about what you’ve learned throughout the day.
Discuss with others: Sharing your takeaways with others is a great way to boost productivity, engagement, and excitement among your team members. You can schedule time to debrief over lunch or a meeting the following day.
Network, Network, Network: Interact with your fellow attendees, add them on LinkedIn, keep in touch, and definitely reach out to discuss more and receive guidance. The goal is to build strong professional relationships and connections that will help you in your career path and life.
After the event
Review your notes: Sometimes when there’s a lot of information to take in, key points can get lost. In case you miss any important details from your favorite session, your notes will come in handy.
Implement what you learned: It’s time to take what you’ve learned during the conference into practice at work or even in your personal life. What ideas can you share with your team members to improve work flow, best practices, etc.? How can you put into practice what you’ve learned for both productivity and personal well-being?
The next time you feel hesitant trying something new and different, know that it’s your cue to keep going! I’ve found that it is best to not to consider virtual events as a substitute for in-person events and instead view them as another opportunity to familiarize myself with the digital platform of work. The digital option will most likely continue through the pandemic’s recovery and beyond since our world is technologically growing and developing. Therefore, it is important that we’re able to keep up with these changes as change is vital for growth and development. With a bit of adjustment, preparation, and positive attitude, you can make it worth your time and energy!