I’ve asked our team members at Healthy Teen Network what they do to get in the groove of virtual conferences and their answers may shock you!
By Mariah Cowsert
October 12, 2021
Have you attended a virtual conference during the pandemic and found yourself more distracted by the beckoning call of your to-do list than focused in on learning with peers? We’ve all been there but don’t fret! I’ve asked our team members at Healthy Teen Network what they do to get in the groove of virtual conferences and their answers may shock you!
Okay, so maybe they won’t shock you, but we do hope that you find them useful when getting geared up for any virtual professional development events that you may have on deck.
So, let’s dig into our tips for virtual engagement!
1. Set up out of office messages and limit time on staff chat platforms.
Numerous staff members shared that they minimize distractions while attending virtual conference sessions by setting an out of office message and limiting use of chat platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack.
While you don’t have to go MIA completely, setting a boundary for limiting or halting work altogether while learning is helpful for both you and your colleagues!
2. Settle into your space.
Do you love a having a warm PSL to start the day in the fall or tend to reach for a snack to ward off brain fog in the afternoon? Get cozy and bring your favorite beverages and/or snacks to your workspace before diving into your virtual conference day.
Not only will this help to get you energized and stay fueled up to absorb more of what you may be learning about the latest innovations in sex ed or how to advance your career in the field, you’ll have something familiar and comforting to keep you grounded (and not Zoom’d out!).
3. Get moving!
Maybe your ideal virtual conference means you get to join via audio and do the latest Yoga with Adriene video on YouTube during sessions or you get the perfect opportunity to take stretching breaks between speakers without looking out of place in a room of attendees (although we wouldn’t judge!).
Find a way to get moving in a way that works for you to keep your energy up past the mid-afternoon slump! Don’t want to leave your desk but want to get moving? If you’re able to, you can add a DeskCycle pedal exerciser to your WFH set-up (or in-office desk) to keep moving even if you’re sitting, like Gina, our Director of Communications at Healthy Teen Network. Just don’t forget your water bottle before you get started!
4. Use the buddy system.
Everything is better with a little support from a friend or colleague, and virtual conferences are no exception! Is there an upcoming virtual conference that you know your co-worker would be jazzed about, or a friend who’s been looking to shift careers into the sexual and reproductive health field but isn’t sure where to start?
Attend the virtual event together and de-brief afterwards to exchange information about what you learned. Janet, our President and CEO, shared that she feels more engaged and excited about learning whether in-person or online when she’s attending with a partner. It may even be useful to have a group chat going during the sessions to stay connected throughout the conference!
5. Check in with family or roommates (and pets!).
We all love to see people’s pets on Zoom, but maybe you’re not too fond of your dog barking at a squirrel they see outside while you’re trying to present or take notes.
Deb, our Senior Manager of Capacity Building and Evaluation, shares that she always has treats ready for her dogs and an action plan in case there are interruptions during a conference or meeting. Do you have other family members or roommates who also work or go to school from home? Check-in before the virtual conference to let them know what you’ll be up to and to help coordinate (if needed).
Whether you’ll be joining your next virtual conference from an office, your bedroom, the kitchen table, or your closet, we hope you’ll be are able to find some quiet space to listen, learn, and engage.
Want to get more connected with other folks who are working in creative ways to advance our field?
Join us for #HealthyTeen21 coming up on October 19th and 20th!
This year’s conference will include a combination of traditional video conference sessions, a special podcast session featuring GenZers who are taking the sex ed world by storm, and a session focused on professional development.
Don’t miss out, there’s still time to register.
Mariah brings an artistic lens to nonprofit communications in her role as Digital Content Creator. With the bulk of her experience working in social services and at affordable housing organizations—she has a passion for diving deeper into (and helping bridge the gap between) health care and housing. In her free time, Mariah can be found tending to her growing jungle of houseplants, making collage and textile art, reading Mary Oliver poems in nature, and experimenting with new vegetarian recipes. Read more about Mariah.