I was really looking forward to the ACS coatings show this year in Indianapolis and other shows throughout the year. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way and now I have participated in a variety of webinars over the past seven months. It occurred to me, that we generally know how to attend trade shows in person, but none of us have a lot of experience sitting in front of the computer and listening and learning and asking questions if we have any.
It takes a different set of skills to stay attentive and also to work through any language or technical difficulties. The webinars generally have improved in quality, and as people have become more comfortable with the mode, the presenters have improved their presentation and delivery skills. The webinars are more than that – more than just webinars. That is the case in two upcoming sessions; with Coatings Trends & Technologies, which is live September 8-11, 2020 and U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange & Specialty Grains Conference 2020, August 24-27.
While the conference presentations are done webinar style, these virtual events offer networking, meeting scheduling, chatting with other attendees, etc. In terms of getting the most out of these events, it is important to take advantage of the networking aspect. For example, with CTT, the portal opens a full month before the event, so that attendees can go in early if they want, browse the literature from the exhibitors, see who else is attending that has indicated similar interests, and schedule meetings/appointments. It will be very important for attendees to indicate their areas of interest, so that they will have the opportunity to contact (and be contacted) by industry colleagues with the same interests.
With a webinar you normally get to see the program, which includes the keynote speakers, the technical speakers and the posters. The nice thing about webinars is you can see how long a talk is, and work that into your schedule. Many times I’ve had to walk out early from tradeshow talk because I wanted to make it over to see someone else.
- Decide if you want to attend the webinar. Look for familiar names or topics interesting to you, or useful in your work.
- Since you don’t have to worry about multiple tracks, attend some talks that are ones that you might not have otherwise attended live. Become educated, learn new things and meet new people.
- Look over the keynote speakers because they generally set the tone for the rest of the webinar.
- Look over the titles, talks or posters that will be given. Take notes on specific topics. It is not necessary to take detailed notes as you would need at a live tradeshow.
- With virtual webinars, take the time beforehand to set times with people on topics that are important to you. This is a true networking opportunity.
- Set the time aside for the talks. Take notes if necessary, and ask questions if they are needed.
- Many virtual conferences have an overall evaluation form and also individual forms for students presenting. Take the time to make an evaluation that is meaningful and that will help the student grow.
- Summarize the webinar, and make notes for the next time it is given.
This year’s U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange will be an all virtual event, allowing registrants around the world to engage in a way that is accessible to everyone. Live panel discussions and other presentations will be streamed, as well as sessions on new developments in U.S. Soy. Attendees will receive a notification when events go live. Sessions will also be recorded for viewing at a later time if desired. The option of one-on-one meetings with others at the event will also provide a personal networking connection.
Through the virtual trade show, attendees can connect to learn more about product and service offerings and meet directly with representatives.
The speaking aspect of the webinar is also good for new presenters, since technical people are tagged as poor speakers and presenters. I’ve seen a lot of people get some much-needed experience in the webinars. And it is a lot less daunting making a video that will be presented to several hundred people then standing in front of a room with the same number of people.
Attending a trade show has many advantages, but webinars have advantages as well. You don’t have the costs of travel and entertainment which can be more costly than the conference itself. Meals may not be as exotic, but they are probably more healthy prepared at home. In addition, most live conferences run several tracks simultaneously, making it impossible to see everything, hear everything, and learn everything. With a webinar, particularly in the new formats, you can watch the keynote speakers and technical program speakers at your leisure. The talks are often recorded, and can sometimes be shared with others. In addition, you get a targeted audience, one who is interested in what you have to offer, and they are all relaxed and comfortable and not hurried or harried. New ideas and trends are brought to your attention, your industry knowledge increases, and you can see what competitors are doing.
This is all well and good, but if you come unprepared you can potentially expend time and energy unnecessarily. Therefore, before you think about attending a webinar, think about the following things you can do well in advance of registration to ensure that you are properly prepared to reap all the benefits on offer. Some of the items are specifically for webinars and some of the topics are more focused on virtual conferences.
Whatever you do, it’s no different than preparing for a trip to visit some landmark. You do the same thing in a way. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the talks, the people attending and ancillary talks.
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4 Responses to “How to get the most information from a webinar”
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