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5 Tips for Attending a Virtual Conference or WordCamp

5 Tips for Attending a Virtual Conference or WordCamp

Whether you’re working from home for the first time, or you’re a experienced virtual commuter, you’ve probably been spending more time online these days. Chances are you’ve been invited to or seen a virtual conference as they’ve started springing up to replace the in-person events that have been cancelled across the globe. 

As a remote worker, I’ve been attending meetings online for a while but participating in WordCamp San Antonio this year marked my first virtual conference. The event was well organized, packed with information, and attended by people from all over the world!

Here are my top 5 takeaways for virtual events.

1) Remove distractions

It’s easy to assume that enjoying a virtual conference will mean being able to clean the house, watch the kids, or get some light handiwork done. Unfortunately, multitasking doesn’t really work for most people. Attending a virtual conference is similar to enjoying an in-person conference. 

During in-person conferences, the only distractions are the people in the same room (and maybe the computer or phone in front of you). Once you step into a conference hall to listen to a speaker, you have one focus. Remember to retain that mentality when you step into a virtual conference room by removing external distractions. For instance, it helped for me to close the door to my office during sessions so I wouldn’t hear people in my house watching Netflix.

2) Be on time

Arriving late to someone’s talk means missing critical information that sets the stage for what you’re there to learn about. Arrive on-time to virtual talks in the same way you would in-person. Heck, why not try showing up a few minutes early to make sure your audio and video setup is working well?

Consider setting a reminder on your phone, or adding an appointment to your calendar.  Online sessions are often recorded (and therefore watchable later), but don’t rely on that (sometimes recordings can fail). Attending live can also give you the opportunity to join the chat and ask real-time questions.

3) Take advantage of time in-between sessions

One of the great things about a virtual conference is that you can switch between rooms quickly. Saving the 5 minute commute in-between sessions gives you more time to network and meet new people virtually. At WordCamp San Antonio, attendees were even encouraged to ask speakers questions in-between sessions. 

At an in-person conference, one person can sometimes monopolize the limited ‘between’ time of a speaker. At a virtual conference, a speaker can usually field more questions, and the answers are accessible to all!

4) Make sure your environment is comfortable

If you’ll be attending the conference all day, you’ll want to make sure your environment is as comfortable as possible. Bring snacks to keep your energy up and remember your favorite beverages. Consider using a pillow, moving your computer screen, and adding external speakers or headphones if you’re watching in a place with lots of distractions.

5) Get dressed

This last tip might seem a little silly, but it’s one of my favorites. When I don’t get dressed like I’m attending an IRL conference or meeting, I don’t feel as confident. If I don’t feel confident, I might not feel like sharing my video camera (a must for remote workers and remote conferencers) or engaging as though I’m attending a real conference. Getting dressed is my way of telling myself (and others) I’m ready for business.

In the office with my best business shirt.

What virtual conferences have you been to? 

Have you attended a virtual conference lately? Are you working from home for the first time? I’d love to hear from you. Send me a message on Twitter @ifyouwillit.

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