Tips for the #NASPA22 Virtual Experience
#NASPA22 is rapidly approaching and we are excited for everyone to participate both virtually and Baltimore. If you have never attended a virtual conference, or even if you have, here are a few tips and tricks to increase your focus and make the most of your time.
There are many benefits and some challenges to the virtual conference experience:
- You can avoid hectic travel whether by plane or car
- You can have reduced anxiety about being in crowds during the pandemic
- You still receive all kinds of amazing information and insights from the presenters
- You can reduce the financial and time commitments typically required
- You can attend in all sorts of comfortable attire and if you are on the introvert spectrum, attending virtually is just more relaxing
But let’s face it, it is challenging to get uninterrupted conference time when you really are not away from your usual environment. There’s also the potential for technical hiccups and the inability to network in person. With that in mind, we have a few strategies to provide a more intentional and fruitful conference experience:
- Download and begin perusing the My NASPA app
The My NASPA app, accessible via the web or an iOS and Android app, includes all session information and is your virtual program book. Take some time before the conference begins to play around in the app and learn about all of the virtual experience options and educational sessions. Find out how to access sessions, select the sessions that sound the most interesting to you, check your audio, and work out any glitches. Be sure to build in extra time before and after your selected sessions so that you can maximize your ability to focus, learn and process. Your #NASPA22 experience is in your control.
- Block off your calendar
Our work never stops, but when you are attending #NASPA22 it should be put on pause—even for only an hour or two at a time. Please do not throw away the time you have to learn and to connect with colleagues and friends. Once you select your sessions and add them to your calendar in the My NASPA app, create an “out of office” message in your email account so you can attend uninterrupted. Make sure your colleagues, supervisor(s) and direct report(s) know when you’ll be busy and ask them to avoid contacting you during these times if at all possible. Try to make an effort not to check email or your phone while you are in sessions. Attend high priority sessions from your home or someplace away from the office where you will not get easily distracted.
- Consider going old school!
Think about taking your session notes on paper. To focus more on the information being presented, keep your attention on the screen, but your fingers off of the keyboard and mouse. Go full screen!
- Build in breaks
Do not feel confined to your chair. Be proactive in building in breaks in between sessions to stand and stretch or take a short walk. And, if you are not on video during a session please don’t be afraid to stand. Any activity, even something as small as standing or walking in place, can wake you up and get you refocused on the content being presented. Also, don’t forget to plan out your meals and snacks to avoid the “hanger!”. For a fun treat, consider getting a yummy snack or coffee delivered to keep you moving forward.
Make sure to click on the Discord icon in your My NASPA app to connect with other attendees. Think of the #NASPA22 Discord Community as the virtual hallway or NASPA Commons. Once there, you can join a Conference Crew or connect with pet lovers, other wordle enthusiasts, or members of your NASPA region.
Conferences can feel pretty overwhelming to navigate and networking events can be intimidating. In an effort to increase community, connection, and learning - the Conference Crew program is a small group experience available to any registered #NASPA22 participant. Each crew will be made up of no more than 25 participants and 1-2 crew leaders (Crew Captains). Crews will utilize Discord to meet, interact, and maintain engagement with your crew.
Any co-workers planning to attend the virtual conference? Watch the sessions together. Consider making plans to catch up and discuss keynote sessions after the fact or message them throughout about points you found interesting.
It is important not to leave the conference just online or in Baltimore. Build in an hour at the end of the conference to reflect and collect your key take-aways. You may even share your take-aways and session notes with your colleagues, supervisor(s) and/or direct report(s); particularly if they align with university, divisional or departmental priorities. You may not be able to attend every session or virtual experience activity; but having a plan in place came help ensure that you can attend what is most important to you and to ensure that you are fully present. We look forward to seeing you in the #NASPS22 Discord Community, or in a session, or at Trivia. Enjoy the #NASPA22 Virtual Experience!