Tips for Attendees

Making the Most of a Virtual Conference

Tara Luther and Allison Suchon, Promega

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2020 has been a year of changes for all of us. We’ve learned how to keep in touch while socially distancing. We’ve learned how to work from home with furry co-workers who encourage us to break from the traditional 9-5 routine. We’ve learned how to make changes to our labs to stay safe and productive.

For many of us, this will also be the first time that we attend a virtual conference. While it’s easy to focus on what we’ll be missing by not gathering together, there are advantages to moving to the virtual space. By making the most out of your virtual experience, you’ll be able to walk away with valuable insights, a robust network, and valuable information that you can use in your own lab.

To help, we’ve put together a list of tips that will help you maximize your experience at ISHI this year.

Keep an Open Mind

Whether consciously or unconsciously, you may be thinking that you will not learn as much from an online conference as you would in person. This can be especially true given the interruptions that COVID-19 has already caused to our daily life. ISHI may look a little different this year, but we have taken care to plan an agenda that will provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use in your lab. Going in with an open mind will strengthen your motivation and willingness to participate.

Organize Your Session Schedule

This year, you’re in charge of your own agenda! While sessions will be pre-scheduled to allow for Q&A with the speakers, they will all be available on-demand after. Taking a close look at the conference agenda beforehand will allow you to prioritize which sessions you want to watch first.

Whether you missed a session or were hoping to go back and spend more time on a session, you have all the control with an online conference. All sessions will be available on demand for at least 30 days after the conference, so you can take your time viewing them. Pause as needed to take notes. Reach out to a speaker as you’re watching for clarification. Take advantage of participating in a conference that fits into your schedule.

Set Time Aside for Learning

It’s easy to assume that you’ll have time for online learning, but time always manages to slip away throughout the workday. Set some time aside before the conference begins or block your calendar so that you’ll be able to focus on watching the sessions. You can even set reminders for sessions that you want to be sure to watch live.

Minimize Distractions

Whether you’re working from home, the office, or the lab, distractions are bound to pop up. Limit them by setting up a quiet space where you can participate in the conference. Silence your phone, block your calendar, and consider putting a “do not disturb” message on your email.

If you’re logging on from home, try to find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted by your furry, four-legged “co-workers” or children won’t come bounding into the room like you’re being interviewed on the BBC. But don’t worry about dressing up. Go ahead and wear those pajama pants and fluffy slippers.

Familiarize Yourself With the Tools

Don’t wait until the day of the conference to test out the platform on your device. Test your audio and ensure a strong WIFI connection. Laptops or desktop computers work better than viewing on a smartphone, though the platform is compatible with mobile devices.

Make Sure You’re Receiving the Latest Communication from ISHI

We will be sharing updates on ISHI 31 via email and social media. Make sure that your email address is accurate in your registration and that you’ve added Cvent and ISHI to your address books. Consider following ISHI on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to keep up with the latest.

Print Out Workshop and Session Materials Ahead of Time

If you’re the type of person who likes to take notes during sessions, make sure you print out and organize the presentation slides before the conference begins so that you’re ready. General Sessions slides will be available to download from our website.

Be an Active Participant

It can be tempting to slip in and out of sessions without participating during a live event and remaining anonymous is even easier online. Resist that temptation! What you get out of the conference depends on what you put in. Introduce yourself in the chat and see what new connections you can make. Is there a topic that you’re interested in discussing? Start a conversation! Do you have a question for the speakers? Don’t be afraid to connect with them.

You never know how the connections you make today will benefit you tomorrow. It’s also a good way to feel closer and more connected to the presenters and other attendees, even if you’re far apart and have a computer screen in front of you.

Join a Virtual Community

Participate on our social media channels like our Facebook page or LinkedIn Group. Use the hashtag #ISHI31 on Twitter and Instagram.

Involve Your Peers

Just like in-person events, it can be more comforting to navigate a virtual conference with someone you know. Whether you’re in the same room or not, having a peer to discuss the sessions with can help with comprehension, allow you to compare key takeaways, and will increase your attention span.

Schedule 1:1 Sessions with a Specialist

One of the best things about attending an in-person conference is visiting the exhibit hall to learn more about all the latest technologies and products in one place. Meeting with vendors is not limited to in-person events, however. You have the ability to schedule 1:1 meetings with all of our vendors without ever leaving the platform. You can choose a time that fits into your schedule and stay up to date without leaving your office.

Take Breaks

At in-person events, you typically move room to room to different sessions, can check out the snack bar, and are talking with new people as you roam. You’ll want to make sure you do that during the virtual ISHI, too. Get up, walk around, stretch, and get some brain-boosting treats to keep yourself alert.

Most Importantly, Don’t Forget to Have Fun!

In addition to all that is listed above, we’ve planned a virtual ISHI game where you can compete with your colleagues for a chance to win registration to ISHI 32 next year. We’ll also be asking you to get creative and submit photos each day for a chance to win other prizes. Keep an eye on your inbox as more details will be coming soon!

To learn more about this year's program and reserve your spot, visit our website: