9 top tips to get the most out of virtual HR events

Emma Stevens
Last updated on 9th June 2020
3 min read

We’re getting into HR event season, but not as we know it.

In a matter of a few short months the world of work turned upside down by COVID-19, resulting in the majority of office employees working from home, including many HR and People teams.

Not only has this radically changed the way we work, it’s also affecting events season, where HR and People conferences have either been postponed or, in many cases, moved online.

So, with online events being a first for many attendees and event organizers alike, how do you get the most out of it? Whether you’re attending CIPD’s Festival of Work in June, HR Grapevine’s HR Technology event in July, or any other HR events this season, we share nine tips for ensuring you get the most out of them.

1. Get your conference sessions sorted in advance

Don’t leave looking at sessions until the last minute.

Festival of Work, for example, have many streams and sessions which could overlap, so to avoid any unnecessary stress it’s worth taking a look at these in advance and planning your schedule early.

Also, check with the event organizers to see whether they’re recording the sessions, too. If so, you may still be able to check out the sessions you miss first time around – one of the many benefits to attending an online event.

2. ‘Switch off’ from work

Putting your out of office on and diary blocked out for the day would be the norm if you were attending an event in-person. This is even more important for a virtual HR event.

Whilst it might be possible to answer the odd email, it’s tempting to switch from conference mode into business as usual. It’s a good idea to follow the same process you usually would if you were attending the event.

While you may be more available than you would if you were attending in person and it might be possible to find time to answer the odd urgent email, it means you’ve still given yourself the time to focus and get the most out of your day.

3. Test your technology before the day

There’s nothing more frustrating than technical issues – something you might be familiar with, after all the hours spent working from home in recent weeks.

To understand how the conference platform being used works, and to get some idea of which areas you’ll need to access, some events may enable you use the platform ahead of time. If they do, take a look around and get familiar with of all of the different functionalities it has to offer.

If you don’t get a glimpse of the platform before the day, event organizers may give tours the morning of the event or ‘how-to’ documents so you can navigate your way around with ease.

4. Take notes and ask questions

You might be tempted, especially if the sessions are recorded, not to bother taking notes at an online event. However, note-taking means you’ll be able to pick out those nuggets of crucial information and brainstorm any ideas sparked.

 Note down any questions in the chat box functionality too, and make sure you still ask questions.

5. Take regular breaks

Events usually have breaks between sessions, so make the most of them.

Take the opportunity to get away from the screen, stretch your legs and grab that much needed cup of coffee, so you can go back feeling refreshed and ready for the next speaker.

6. Follow the event on social media

Do you use social media at events to follow conversations and join in? If not, now is the time to start.

Follow the social media account handles in advance of the event and be sure to check out what hashtag is being used. Then, on the day you’ll be able to follow the conversation. It’s a great way to see what other people have thought of the different sessions and to engage, and network, with others.

You’ll usually find any hashtags and social media accounts they’re using via any email communications you receive, or in your registration pack.

7. Try out any interactive features

Raise your hand. Enter the virtual networking chat room. Turn on your camera during a booth session.

Interactive features may seem gimmicky but they’re there so you can have a true, immersive experience – just as you would if you were at the event in-person.

8. Network, network, network

Just because you’re not attending a session in person doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities to network.

Many events portals have an area where you can network with fellow HR and People leaders and join in group conversations around topics. There may also be panel sessions for certain events, including Festival of Work, where you can ask any burning questions around certain topics and join the conversation.

9. Don’t forget the exhibition area

Do you ever see a stand on the exhibition floor and avoid because it looks too busy? This is the perfect opportunity to browse around with ease.

Take a good look around and go say hi to the vendors there. It’s likely that a virtual event is a first for them as it is you, so it’s a great opportunity to network and ask any burning questions you have.

If you’re attending Festival of Work or HR Technology, we’ll be there! Be sure to visit the virtual stand and say hi to the team.

Also, if you’re attending Festival of Work, we’ll be speaking on 11:30am BST on 10th June so come to the session to find out all about what 500 HR leaders said are the biggest changes happening in HR. We’ll also be speaking at HR Grapevine’s HR technology event in July, discussing how you can raise your game and remote experience with HR automation.

 Don’t miss them—we look forward to seeing you there!

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