How To: Make the most out of attending a Virtual Conference

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How To: Make the most out of attending a Virtual Conference

By Rahul Balakrishnan

Virtual conferences have been emerging in popularity for years now, but with the emergence of COVID-19, they have exploded as an industry necessity. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing: 

  • You still get all the amazing information and insights from speakers
  • You reduce the time and financial commitments required to attend these events in person

At the same time, virtual conferences are an adjustment. They create new challenges for attendees, like the potential for technical hiccups and the inability to network face-to-face. 

Arthan’s endeavour of ‘Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future’ starting 22nd June 2020, will bring together multiple industry experts, policymakers, founders and senior leaders from leading Foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, across the globe to speak about critical discussion points on specific thematic tracks such as Fundraising, Talent, Education and Women Leadership in the Social Sector. 

With that in mind, I felt it is pertinent to share some tips on how to make the most of your participation.

Tip#1: Prioritise Panels and Network Effectively
Treat a virtual conference as you would an in-person conference with respect to your calendar and task load. Prioritize the time to be truly present in the experience, engage with the sessions and presenters, and use the chat and other networking tools regularly to connect with other attendees. These events are meant to foster cross-geo, cross-functional learning and break down knowledge silos. Q&As, chats with other attendees, and reaching out to participating partners to ask about their solutions are great ways to find out new tips and tricks to put into practice right away.

Tip#2: Minimise Distractions and Calendarise your time
Minimize distractions. When you’re watching alone, it’s easy to ‘multi-task’ and get distracted. Instead, try to reduce notifications, grab a notepad, and get ready to start learning! There’s a ton of opportunity for networking – right from the comfort of your own couch! Make sure to take advantage of our conference hashtags #ArthanBuildingCSOs, live chats, social media handles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram) or any other way to connect with attendees and speakers. We are using Zoom which provides you with an option of linking the event on your calendar directly ensuring you don’t miss out. Usually, summits only run for a specific amount of time so if you don’t block out time to attend, you may miss the entire conference.

Tip#: Plan for last-minute glitches and technology issues
Always have a backup plan! As we all know, live-streaming and virtual tools can fail without reason, so it’s crucial you aren’t scrambling for a new solution during crunch-time. Make sure you have plans in place for all those ‘worst-case scenario’ moments. Remote events offer chances for distraction or complete focus and comfort, depending completely on you. You need to take responsibility for that.

Tip#4: Have an end goal in mind and be active
What I learned from my own experiences of being an attendee at multiple events in the past is that the connections you make an effort to create and nurture during that virtual experience become exponentially stronger when you do get the chance to meet in-person at another event. Don’t participate passively in the virtual conference — be active. Have an end goal in mind with respect to the particular speakers you would want to connect to post the conference. Make detailed notes of some quotes you hear or some of the deep engaging questions the panels spent time on. These quotes, thoughts and your own interpretations on certain views raised during the conference could be a great starting point to a deeper engagement post-conference.

While the current circumstances forcing events online might be temporary, the trend of digital events likely isn’t. Now is the time to embrace the present and indeed embrace this transition, and jump headlong into virtual conferences, to benefit your career and your organisation.

We look forward to having you onboard for this endeavour towards Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future. Please check the links below to register now.

Track1: Future of Fundraising
Date: 22 June 2020
Link to Register:

Track2: Talent – Future of Jobs
Date: 25 & 26 June 2020
Link to Register:

Track3: Future of Education
Date: 3rd July 2020
Link to Register:

Track4: Women’s Leadership in the Development Sector
Date: 14 July 2020
Link to Register:

We look forward to your participation.
For any concerns or questions, please write to us at

Photo by Judit Peter from Pexels

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