With so many virtual events popping up, we all need to consider strategies when it comes to tuning in.
A few weeks ago, we looked into some considerations for virtual events for hosts. Speakers, content, form, and audience engagement all require specialized care and planning when it comes to putting an event together — but that audience also has to think on how best to approach these events.
Which events should you attend?
Perhaps the biggest question of all from an attendee’s perspective is this simple one. Of course, the inundation of newly announced virtual conferences, panels, and webinars is making that increasingly less simple. There are, to say lightly, a lot of events emerging on our screens these days.
There are several keys to choosing which inbox invitations to follow up on, though, as you consider where to spend your screen time.
- What would you get out of it?
- Is this an informative event, a sales pitch, a deep dive into technology you’re using or considering investing in, a networking-heavy event, a panel presentation from thought leaders you want to hear from?
- What’s your goal? Do you want to learn, think, chat, buy, sell? Is this event geared toward that goal?
- Is this event different from another one you’ve just attended?
- Are those differences substantial enough to invest another hour/half-day/day to the subject matter?
- Are you available at that time?
- If not, will a recording be available after the fact? Will you actually take the time to watch that recording?
Once you’ve decided you’ll attend an event, what kind of attendee will you be?
Most virtual events have a Q&A and/or live chat function available during/between the presentation/s. Will you participate? Do you prefer to be more passive?
These answers go back to your attendance strategy in the first place; if you want to learn and absorb information, it may be that questions you had in mind come up anyway and you aren’t yourself necessarily engaged. If you’re looking into a new-to-you technology to potentially invest in for an installation, reseller agreement, or other more hands-on relationship, being more proactive and vocal (keyboard-vocal, that is) would make much more sense.
Signing up for a webinar pretty universally gets you onto a mailing list from the host; presumably by signing up you are interested in what the hosting entity has to offer. If not, ready your inbox for a flux of new newsletters and outreach.
One issue I know I’m not alone in accidentally experiencing with virtual events is unintentionally letting them turn into background noise. It can be all too easy to check an email that comes up on my primary screen and let the voices on the other monitor carry on while I then check a second email, then…
In some ways, sure, it’s on the event to grab and keep your attention, but as so many are increasingly learning during these work-from-home days it ultimately is your responsibility to keep your focus where you need it to be.
You Don’t Have To Attend Every Event
That leads pretty neatly to another helpful reminder: you don’t have to spread too thin and try to attend every event.
As a journalist, it certainly behooves me to pay attention to as much of the industry as I possibly can. This is why I’m often attending panels and speaker sessions during the in-person conferences typically happening right now; I want to hear, to learn, to get information directly from those who are doing and leading in the industry. Even at these events, though, I eventually have to accept when making up my schedule that I cannot physically be at every session I want to — this is a lesson I’m still working personally on extending to this age of virtual events.
So here’s a reminder or, if you need it to be, permission: you don’t have to do it all. You can’t conceivably attend every event. It’s okay.
Attend, learn, engage, interact — as you can. Overextending your virtual presence can become as wearying as is the same in person.
Attend what you can. Engage where you can. Continue to look out for yourself, though. Get your own daily work done, carve out time for additional events around your functional priorities.