VIRTUAL CONFERENCES: DO’S AND DON’TS
Though you may not physically be attending conferences this year, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend! With several trade shows going virtual, we thought we would help you out by providing a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” to help you navigate the virtual exhibit halls.
Put yourself on mute
While many hosts typically default to muting all attendees, some do not. Make sure you are on mute if you are not currently speaking. Being at home means dogs barking, kids laughing, and lawnmowers revving, so make sure you are on mute to avoid anyone else hearing this noise pollution.
Use your camera if possible
If you have a webcam, use it! Especially if you will be participating in the conversation. It helps people to see a face to a name and voice, and one day when we are all in person again, people will easily recognize you!
Use a background if you have the option
Tools like Zoom let users select backgrounds so that the entire world doesn’t see the inside of their homes. Having a simple background can be a great way to promote your brand or your school without having to leave the comfort of your home. This also prevents viewers from getting distracted by anything going on around you.
Attend the virtual sessions
Because you might not get the chance to attend sessions in person this year, it’s crucial you attend any virtual session you can. Districts everywhere are using this as a platform to exchange advice and share their stories about serving students in the midst of a pandemic. By attending these sessions, you can get advice from your colleagues and learn some new tips and tricks.
Visit the virtual exhibitor booths
Vendors are still on the show floor, even if the floor is digital. The pandemic has not only changed your day-to-day operations but also changed how vendors serve you. Check out their virtual booths to see what new products and services are available to you!
Download the appropriate platform and get familiar with it before the sessions begin
Zoom, Ring Central, Google Meetings, Microsoft Teams, and more! Don’t wait until your sessions begin to download the appropriate apps. Try and get a feel for any tools you may use so that at the start of the session, you aren’t losing time working out the controls versus paying attention to the content.
Keep the camera on if you won’t be sitting at your desk the entire time
Whether it be during scheduled breaks, or you have to get up to use the restroom – turn off your camera before you get up from your desk. This way no one sees an empty chair at an empty desk – or sees what goes on behind the scenes at home. Many people have had some pretty embarrassing stories about not turning off the camera when they get up, no reason to have your own story too.
Wear relaxed clothing (that everyone can see)
Even though you are at home, don’t wear pajamas when attending a virtual conference. You never know who you will be having a conversation with. Make sure your hair is done and you look the way you would in the office. If you want, feel free to pajamas from the bottom down. If you choose to do this, definitely follow the first “don’t rule”, and make sure no one sees this when you get up!
Schedule meetings or phone calls during the sessions
Even if you aren’t participating in a session, that doesn’t mean you aren’t busy. If someone tries to schedule time with you at the same time as a session, choose to attend the session. Being there live is only going to happen once, and while the recording may be available later, it’s not quite the same.
Work on side projects or play around on your smartphone
It can be really easy to get distracted with other tasks that are so easily accessible from your computer. Close all your windows and browser tabs necessary so that all you have to worry about, is focusing on the content at hand. Place your phone in another room so that you are less likely to get distracted by apps like Facebook and Solitaire.
Ask a question without reading the chatbox first
The beauty of chatboxes is that you can easily go back and look at previous questions and comments. The chatbox is accessible to everyone, so if you ask a question someone has already asked and received an answer to, you could end up polluting the conversation with noise. If you find that a question has not been answered yet, and some time has passed, then feel free to ask it again. Moderators can sometimes get overwhelmed or even respond to people privately by mistake.
You can only experience a live virtual session once. Showing up late means missing out on the potential need-to-know information and can leave you confused the remainder of the time. Show up on time to make sure you catch housekeeping notes, and agenda items, and can stay on track throughout the whole session.
Take advantage of all of the virtual conferences you can. Many of them last as little as one day, or one month, so plan your schedule wisely. It may not be the same as being in person, but the information is just as valuable and more crucial these days more than ever.