Getting the Most out of Virtual Conferences

By Heather Morrow posted 08-24-2020 08:50


Friday morning I had the great pleasure of joining Joy Heath Rush and Shy Alter to discuss how one could get the most out of Virtual Conferences

We had a lively discussion around the following questions:  How can we make the most of a virtual experience? How is networking virtually different from networking in-person? What are some tips and tricks for networking virtually?

Below recaps some of the notes from the chat and some thoughts I had shared with Joy when I volunteered to be a “non-expert” on the panel. If you have time, please check out the recording. You can find it here.

You can control your Zoom Settings and these are a few that I have found helpful:

  • General>Use Dual Monitors
  • Screen Share>Enable Side-by-side mode

The updated version of Zoom has an enhanced touch up my appearance and the ability to adjust for low light.

Also, in Zoom, you can Rename yourself. For increased networking opportunities, I recommend putting your full name and where you work.

During the sessions, you should try to be present. This means really listen to the presentations. 

  • Eliminate distractions – just like in a real live session, silence your phone.
  • Disable Outlook notifications.
  • Use your Out of Office Assistant to set the expectations of those who might email you.
  • Ask questions in the chat during session to engage with the speakers and others in the audience.

If you attend a great session, spread the word – so that others can catch it in a re-broadcast or the recording. Share what you have learned on social media. #ILTAsonit

Look for opportunities to asking questions/network after sessions:

  • Watercooler chats
  • ILTA Discussion Boards

Make note of who is in your session and connect on LinkedIn.

Reach out to the sponsor vendors to learn about their tools. 

Make a plan (before Monday).

  • If there are two sessions you are interested in, see if one is being re-broadcasted for a different time zone
  • Broaden Your Horizons. Check out sessions that you might not normally attend.
  • Even though the day is full, use the scheduled break times to take breaks.
  • Get a lot of rest, so you are bright-eyed and bushy tailed

Below are the valuable notes from the chat during the session

  • Here’s the specific link referenced by Shy when he was talking: (Shy Alter)
  • I’ve been testing USB microphones that work best for those at home. The top two I’ve found are the Blue SnowBall and the Tonor TC-777. Also the best speakers I’ve found are the Bose Companion 2 Series iii. (Scott Rolf - Tucker Ellis LLP)
  • ILTA>ON Keynotes will be through Zoom Webinar and the Educational Sessions are Zoom Meetings. (Katie Desir)
  • I have tried to recreate the in person experience of saying hello to friends in that time before the session starts. If the software allows, I often send individual chats to people I know that are also in the session to say hi, how are you, etc. (Holly Riccio)
  • Plan a virtual watch party! (Joy Heath Rush)
  • Love that “virtual buddy” idea. (Holly Riccio & Stacy Brown)
  • ILTA had a Buddy System at ILTACON last year. It was really nice. (Bárbara Rocha)
  • The chat feature at LegalSEC was great since you could talk with people like you would have in person (except when you needed to refresh and lost all of your history!!) (Chris Hunt)
  • So true, Chris! For ILTA>ON, the chat history will stay in the online communities - so no worries with refreshing! (Samantha Surillo)
  • What things can attendees do, not only for themselves, but to contribute to the group experience? I’d call it etiquette. Heather talked about some of this. I’m thinking along the lines of...If a hundred people log in to a session and say hello then the chat races by. If someone posts something substantive then you miss it. How do we get people to open up a little more in the virtual environment, to ask the same questions in a virtual session that they would in an in-person session? (Mark Manoukian)
  • At my firm, when we attend virtual events, we usually organize group chats to share our opinions on the sessions and insights on how to put the things we learn into action. (Bárbara Rocha)
  • And depending on the type of the conversation/chat, we can maintain some parts of the dialogue (converted to text) for further studies, such as “People Analytics” to help HR with insights. It is a great opportunity brought by COVID-19, in my humble opinion. (Fabiano Viana)
  • The hallways hangs will allow random group pairings too! (Samantha Surillo)
  • I wish there was a virtual business card that you could hand out to people! I saved everyone’s cards at ILTACON and would write down on their card what we spoke about and what we had in common. Then I went back to those cards after the conference and emailed folks and met up with them in Facebook and on LinkedIn. (Stacy Brown)
  • There will be a “add contact” feature for ILTA>ON which will add the person to your ILTA Network on the ILTA website so you can continue the conversation after the conference! (Samantha Surillo)
  • Setting up an account at is a great way to drop a simple url with a configurable business card. (Scott Rolf - Tucker Ellis LLP)
  • After connecting with people I met at a conference on LinkedIn, and after the conference is over, I will sometimes just reach out and see if we can have a call to talk about what we both thought of the conference, etc. (Holly Riccio)
  • Keep in mind that Monday is free for everyone, so if you haven’t registered yet please do! Even if you can’t attend that day you will have access to the recordings afterward. (Julie Brown)
  • Are the ILTA backgrounds available to us all and, if yes, where are they? (Tara Doyle)

  • Kudos to the ILTACON committee and the ILTA staff! It is not easy to pivot like this from in person to virtual. (Holly Riccio)

And finally, a few additional thoughts . . .

  • Ask yourself why is being at the conference is meaningful, important or purposeful for you?
  • What stories can you share, your lessons learned?
  • This is an opportunity to crown source the expertise.

Click here to learn more about VoiceVoice. It is the application ILTA is using for the Watercooler sessions.

To continue this conversation further, Stacy Brown has asked “What is the best way to use social media to connect with my new friends from ILTA>ON?”

See you at the Watercoolers!