How to Prepare for Your First Virtual Conference

Recently, I took the opportunity to attend the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. Usually, it’s an in-person conference, but because of good ol’ crazy 2020, they went virtual this year. I had to give it a try! Although I wasn’t sure what to expect at my first virtual conference, it was an amazing experience. Not only did they fill my head with tons of information about writing, but I also learned a great deal about what a virtual conference is like. Here are three things to help you get ready for your first virtual conference.

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How to Prepare for your First Virtual Conference

Set Up Yourself

Get ready for the day. Put on mascara, brush your hair. Throw on a clean shirt and even a nice pair of pants. Although the other attendees may only see your head-shot, you will feel so much more put together and confident. Dressing up a bit from the usual quarantine slouch will make you look professional even through a screen.

Whenever I had my camera on I felt more there. Seeing the other attendees’ faces added an element of personal interaction to the sessions.

Set Up Your Workspace 

Gather all the materials you think you’ll need for the classes before they start. Although sessions may be recorded for later viewing, live calls don’t have a pause button. You don’t want to get up in the middle and miss something important.

Suggested Materials:

  • Water bottle to sip on throughout the day
  • Snacks (though I’d recommend turning off your camera before munching away)
  • Notebook
  • Session Handouts (as provided)
  • Pen plus a backup
  • Earbuds
  • Computer charger

Also please, please, check the background behind you. I guarantee others don’t want to see the old plates, stacks of mail, and clothes thrown on the shelf behind you.

Don’t forget to tell your loved ones you are attending a conference. Just because you’re not leaving the house doesn’t mean you’re not “going” somewhere. Let them know so they don’t barge in on you. Maybe set up an office in another room for when you’re taking calls if you don’t already have a designated workspace.

Set Up Your Mind 

At the beginning of this conference, I attended a session angled at the newbs (me!) that was a great reminder I’m going to plug in here: conferences have highs and lows. There will be times where the flow of information will exhilarate you, like a dip in a swimming pool of drinking water after a long drought. Other times it’ll overwhelm you and you’ll feel like you’re drowning. That’s okay. It’s normal. It’ll happen. It happened to me (especially right after lunch breaks in that muddy mid-point of the day). When you have time in between sessions, take breaks from the computer. A walk outside to clear your head and stretch is a must! 

Also, beware of the after-conference crash. I was simultaneously excited to get to work and exhausted. I’ve felt the same way after other conferences, but usually during the drive home. This time, however, I had never left home in the first place.

I want to give a shout out to all the faculty at KCWC for making the conference possible, offering it at the price you did, and working so hard before and during to keep the technology running smoothly. Thank you!

I am hoping to attend this conference again in the future (fingers crossed for in person) but I would definitely attend other virtual conferences.

Have you ever attended a virtual conference? What did you think?

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  1. What a great article, Natalie! I love the pictures of you actually participating in the conference. Gave your article a realistic touch. KCWC did do a fantastic job on their very first online conference, and you did a wonderful job of preparing attendees for the same experience. I missed the in-person experience of a real conference, but I was amazed at how much networking and interaction took place during this virtual event. Hope to see you “in person” next year!

    1. I would love to go to KCWC in person and am hoping to attend next year! I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  2. Great article Natalie. I haven’t attended a virtual conference before but your insights are helpful in knowing what to expect.

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