As the world continues to evolve during the coronavirus pandemic with more focus on social distancing and telecommuting, virtual conferences are becoming more commonplace in nearly every career field. They negate the cost and hassle of traveling, often internationally, and you still get to share your awesome ideas from the comfort of your own home.
Here, we explore some best practices to keep in mind for virtual conferences as we kick off the 2022 conference season. While these suggestions have become almost second nature to now-experienced virtual conference attendees, it’s always good to get a refresher.
Maintain In-Person Mentality
Thanks to the power of Zoom, we can telecommute right from home. But with this luxury often comes watching your colleagues sitting in their pajamas because they literally just woke up. For all virtual meetings, but especially virtual conferences, it’s always good to keep an in-person mentality. This means remembering to get dressed up with a clean appearance as though you’re literally there at the conference itself. This includes full professional attire, not just a nice button-down shirt on top with shorts that your audience won’t see. Don’t shy away from going all out.
In the age of telecommuting, it’s easy to forget that your audience isn’t just looking at you, but what’s in your entire frame. Presentation and networking always matter, and it’s important to present yourself as professionally as possible in all aspects to make a better impression on your current and/or potential employer. Digital backgrounds can seem fun, but they are still in their infancy and are often distracting for an audience if your digital background doesn’t quite blend with you or your attire. While digital backgrounds are becoming very popular, especially in science, presenting a more organic background such as a full bookshelf surrounded by items relevant to your talk gives a far more professional appearance. This will actually make your audience far more attentive to what you’re talking about because your background is actually your best way to demonstrate your overall work ethic.
Rehearsal Is Still Important
Delivering a virtual conference presentation is much the same as an in-person conference. The majority of the time you’re engaging with your audience, clicking through slides, and pointing when necessary. However, virtual conferences deal with far more technological barriers than in-person conferences, specifically your internet connection. This is why it’s just as important to rehearse several times in the days and weeks leading up to your virtual talk. Do all of your slides fit? Are your videos loading correctly? Do have every talking point down to the letter? Does your background display a professional setting that correlates with your talk?
While virtual conferences are becoming more commonplace, it’s always important to treat them like in-person conferences. Dress professionally, display a professional background, and always rehearse several times before to ensure everything is working as it should. Like in-person conferences, virtual conferences are a fantastic way to network and meet new people. Go forth! You got this!