The internet provides – unlimited access to anything you would ever want to learn about. Google’s initial decision to brand itself as a spin-off of the term “googol”, defined as a digit with one hundred zeroes after it, is both descriptive and overwhelming.
With so much content vying for your attention, it is a challenge to filter out the quality from the fluff. I dare say the ratio is very low on the quality and maxed out in the fluff range.
With the invigoration of online learning, while the world battles the current pandemic, the newly WFH initiated may too easily see filing their days with “professional development” as an easy distraction from focusing on work.
Conferences have gone virtual, trying to keep relevant and connected to their communities. It all sounds good in theory but in practice?
I was looking forward to attending a live conference event a week ago. It was easy to access, the theme was not only timely but focused, the speakers were eloquent and insightful, but it was lacking something.
What is that something?
When it comes to a conference, the takeaways from the sessions can vary from top-notch too forgetful. But what always takes it out of the park is the engagement you get from being in the same space not only with the presenter but other attendees as well.
So for a conference that normally hosts up to a thousand or sometimes ten thousand participants, transitioning online to the same audience will be lacking.
- No more between session conversations with others in the hall.
- No more opportunity to speak to the presenter in person after the talk.
- No more escape from ’the office’ and take in new ideas without distractions.
So where does that leave us in a digital world?
How can we recapture the best parts of a conference while isolating in our own home offices?
- Smaller is better. Choose events where you aren’t anonymous. This provides the presenter with a way to keep connected with you and the others and gauge how the discussion is going. Glassy eyes and the telltale signs of someone multitasking instead of being engaged.
- Free is never free. If there is an event online that is offered for no fee, expect your cost to be your attention, and don’t be surprised when you get pitched for a product or service. Sometimes there is high value, but more often than not, I’d rather read a blog post on the topic faster than the time and effort to attend a video webinar. If you pay for the sign-up, you can expect to get more out of the time and effort and you are more likely to be engaged and get the value out of your time, in both content and interactions with other attendees and the host.
- Do the research. Instead of reacting to the latest social media post or sales pitch email vying for you to sign up for their amazing webinar. Take the time to make a list of skills and topics that you want to learn more about.
- Make the time in your schedule for learning. Be proactive about your schedule and figure out how much time you want to set aside per week or month for professional development.
- Engage. Don’t be passive with your education. If you sign up for a seminar, then know in advance what you intend to learn and what questions you need to be answered. Keep your multi-tasking to taking notes and messaging with other attendees during the event.
Needless to say, when the world re-opens and you feel more comfortable to attend an event in person, you might even find yourself even more engaged at conferences than you ever were before. And if you are in the market for 1 hour online learning sessions, the Creatives Roundtable offers some great opportunities – check them out!
Written by: Crystal Reynolds, Crystal Ink