You Ask, I Answer: Tips for Getting The Most From Virtual Events?

Erika asks, “What are your tips for getting the most out of virtual events as an attendee?”

A great question given the changed world we live in. First, prioritize what’s transient – what are the things that you can only get during the virtual event? Sessions are generally recorded and you can go back to them later. What won’t you be able to access when the event is over?

Second, what’s your burning question?

Third, how many people can you ask your burning question to and where? Virtual events are better for this sort of thing than real life ones!

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, Erica asks, What are your tips for getting the most out of virtual events? As an attendee? This is a great question given the changed world that we live in, and the fact that we’re going to be going to virtual events for at least another year.

So if we’re going to invest the money, the time, etc, we need to get the most out of them.

So virtual events are typically going to be a combination of a few different things.

There’s, of course, the talking heads sessions, there may be some live sessions, there may be some networking and other activities and stuff that go with that.

And of course, there’s the usual stuff like the vendor halls and things.

So the first thing that you want to do with any kind of online event is look at all those different activities and make note of which things you will have access to after the event and which things you won’t.

So what are those transient, intangible things that are going to fade away? As soon as the event is over? Sometimes that may be like a chat rooms? They have I’ve seen some events like have have speed dating and other networking things, breakout rooms, etc.

What are those things that once events over you, that you simply won’t be able to get access to? Chances are, it’s going to be a lot of live stuff.

So live chats, q&a is asked me anything’s those are all stuff that you want to prioritize, you want to put that at the top of your list, what stuff will there simply not be a chance to get back to later, the sessions, the you know, the all the recordings and stuff, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be able to access those up to a month after the event if not longer.

So it’s probably a pretty safe bet that you can make note of the ones you want to attend.

And then obviously, get them get the recordings, whenever you want.

To have a discussion with attendees about a session, you may obviously need to attend those sessions, particularly if the event is structured in such a way where there’s a session, and then there’s like 20 minutes of live q&a with the session presenter as a fairly common thing.

So you may want to sit through the sessions.

With a virtual event, you got to book the time, you got to pretend that you’re at the actual event.

You know, one of the things that’s great about real events is it takes you out of the space that you’re in every day, and put you in a situation where you are more receptive to learning because you’re not at the office Well, right now you’re at the office, right? You never leave the office.

And so, for these events, you have to act as though you are not available.

So setting all your stuff on Do Not Disturb not taking calls, not booking meetings.

It’s hard.

That’s really hard.

I, I know how difficult that can be for a lot of people where they don’t feel like they can escape the office, you got to try even I mean, you could even go to the maybe illogical extreme of like booking a hotel room, you know, locally, and just, you know, spending the day there where you’re not at the office, just to put yourself in a different mindset.

Second thing with any event, live or virtual in person or not, is to come up with your burning question, what is the question that you need an answer to? No matter what the event is? That, you know, that’s what you want on the event, you’re going to ask as many people that question as possible.

Whatever your burning question is, Hey, does anybody know how to, you know increase the the memory window of a T five transformer? Does anybody know? How to get related keywords for your SEO tool? Does anybody know how to get LinkedIn analytics? Whatever your burning question is, make sure that you have it, you’re clear on it.

And you’ve already googled it and stuff so that you’ve got the easy answers.

Now you can get the more sophisticated answers that will help you make the most of any event.

Frankly, it helps you make the most of any interaction period.

Because if you are talking to somebody with purpose, there’s less chance of wasting your time there’s less chance of wasting their time.

And you get provable value when you get back to the office when you get back to your normal work life.

Third, with virtual events, how many people can you ask your burning question to and where and this is where virtual events actually have a bit of a leg up on real world events.

When you go to real world event and you sit down at you know the table the meal times and you’re surrounded by you know eight to 10 other people all eating hotel chicken or standing in the buffet line.

You You haven’t experienced there, which is good.

You know, you can certainly listen to what other people have to say.

But it can be tricky because you know, some people are louder than others.

Some people don’t feel comfortable talking in front of others.

Some people just talk over other people all the time.

You don’t have that problem virtually.

Right.

So you know, the events Facebook group or slack group, or wherever your event is happening, it’s, it’s networking, that’s a great place to be able to ask your burning question to a lot of people a lot more people, more people than you could sit down with at a table and be able to sensibly hear their answers.

So bring that burning question and hold on to every single person and say, Hey, has anybody figured out how to access LinkedIn analytics from from an API or a web scraper? or whatever? The The, the burning question is that you have Doing so will get you more answers and probably better answers.

I know, I’ve had the experience of asking somebody, and, you know, you’re sitting at the table with them at a mealtime.

And it’s awkward, they feel like they have to say something, even if they have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, and they have no credible information to offer on the topic.

I’ve sat down with people who feel like they just have to have something to say no matter what.

You don’t get that, again, in virtual environments, right, you’ll get as much you will get, you know, the standard, you know, mansplaining here and there.

But for the most part, people who have actually something to say on the topic, in a virtual environment will will contribute and people who don’t, won’t feel a social obligation, like they’re sitting next to you.

And they’re like, uh, huh, hi.

You don’t get that in the virtual environment.

So that’s, the third thing is to make sure, a fourth thing, make sure that you’re asking your burning questions for as many people in the places that the event is set aside during the event, because again, that’s going to be one of those things that’s transient, once the event is over.

It’s going to be harder to ask people those questions.

The same is true with the various speakers and things, even if the speaker is not in the live things, right.

You know, they a lot of his sessions are pre recorded at many events, you can absolutely, you know, with greater context, you know, tweet at them or hit them up on, on wherever it is that they are, and say, Hey, I just watched your session at content marketing world.

And they’re like, Oh, yeah, that’s right.

That’s This Week, isn’t it? I have a question for you.

Can I ask you a question? Right? It’s it is contextually more relevant to cold outreach to a speaker at the event that they’re speaking at? Then it would be say, other times the or not, but I think that would be that many people who’d be jerks and say, like, no, you’re not allowed to talk to me? If I’m not at the event.

But certainly, from a context perspective, it makes you sad to say, Oh, that’s right.

I just, I just did that workshop on on AI for content marketers.

Yeah.

What’s your question? We can have a conversation about the workshop that you did, because even if I as a speaker didn’t attend, any other sessions can at least, hopefully Remember what I said in my own session, and answer questions for it.

So that would be again, one of those things that from a context perspective, use that time during the event to ask questions relevant to the event to people who are who are presenting there.

Again, it’s a good opportunity to do that.

So those would be my main suggestions.

prioritize the transient, set up the environment, figure out your burning question, and then ask those questions.

That question is to as many people as possible and get as much information as you can on your burning question.

If you’re about to head into an event, like you know, content marketing world, or marketing products, or whatever, and you don’t have your burning question, take the 30 minutes to really boil that down, right to Google some stuff.

And to get to a point where you’re like, Oh, yeah, this is a question I’ve not been able to find the answer to it will pay dividends for weeks, months, years to come.

I’ve had burning questions that have given me a couple of years of things to research and work on some great question got follow up questions, leave them in the comments box below.

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