virtual author conference

Tips for your next virtual author event

There’s never been a better time to attend a virtual conference as an author.

Although the rise in popularity of virtual events was largely down to the pandemic, people soon wised up to their advantages and their prevalence has continued post-covid.

There are a lot of reasons to favor virtual events over those held in person. First, it removes the time and travel barrier, allowing more people to attend. Second, it’s often cheaper to attend a virtual conference than a face to face event. Finally, you can attend in the comfort of your own home, able to focus and get the most out of the experience.

So if you’ve got a virtual event on your calendar some time during the rest of 2023, how do you make the most of it as a writer? 

Follow these quick tips to maximise your return on attending a virtual writer event this year.

Know your intention going in

Never underestimate the power of the human mind and subconscious to work on your behalf even when you’re not aware it’s doing so.

Consider one quick example. Have you ever taken the time to do your homework about a particular purchase, like a brand of clothing or a car? And then, suddenly, you end up noticing that brand everywhere all of a sudden?

Of course, the brand was always there. The only difference is your brain is now primed to pick up on it. The same principle very much applies to attending a virtual writer conference.

If you know the time of information that will best serve your author aims and goals ahead of the conference, your brain will naturally pick it out and retain it in a way that wouldn’t occur if you hadn’t set a deliberate intention.

Take the time to look at the program ahead of an event and conference and make a conscious effort to focus on the most useful parts for your personal aims and objectives.

Prioritize your time and focus

Sometimes, virtual events will offer you a choice of different speakers to listen to at any given time.

Even if that’s not the case, and you can only listen to a single presenter at any given occasion, there are still times when you’re likely to be more focused and have higher energy than others.

Therefore, it’s worth singling out the key speakers and events you want to pay attention to. That’s not to say you can’t attend any others! Instead, it’s about ensuring your times of peak focus are aligned with the information that will benefit your writing career the most. 

It’s also worth checking if you’ll be able to access recordings of the event after. If so, it might change your approach in terms of attending the most engaging speakers live, as you’ll always have access to all the information after.

Proactively network

One of the most common arguments made against virtual conferences is that they don’t offer the same quality of networking opportunities as face to face events.

While it’s true that there’s a certain level of closeness and connection that comes from spending time face to face, that’s not to say it’s all together better than virtual. It’s more a case of advantages and disadvantages. 

For example, you might be able to more consciously seek out certain people at a virtual event, as everyone is equally accessible. In person, you may end up socializing primarily with the people you end up next to in line for coffee, for example.

Also, networking at virtual events allows more introverted people to make connections which they might not feel comfortable with in person. 

Look for follow up opportunities

A big mistake some authors make when attending virtual events is seeing them as over after the last talk finishes.

Instead, a virtual event should be seen as a springboard to something better. How, exactly?

Say, for example, you attended a virtual writing conference and heard a speaker give a talk that deeply inspired you. You might want to make a point of seeking out their books, seeing if they were appearing anywhere else, or subscribing to their mailing list.

If you managed to network successfully with your fellow authors, you might want to check with them which other events they are attending, or form some accountability groups together.

No matter how you go about it, the virtual writing conference should be a powerful starting point, not a self-contained, done and dusted event.

Translate information to action 

Perhaps the worst thing you can do as an attendee of a virtual writing conference is to treat it as interesting information f or even entertainment, without breaking it down into action.

Ultimately, you should attend writer events with the aim of learning something useful. Something you can test out and hopefully gain valuable results from.

It’s better to pick a few key ideas and test them out thoroughly rather than trying to test everything you learn in a haphazard and shallow way. You’ll always be able to come back to other things in the future. 

Taken to its extreme, it’s arguably better to pick the single, most helpful idea of all and put it into practice rather than testing too many things. Focus on depth over breadth.

Are you ready to attend a virtual event?

Hopefully you now see that it’s largely down to your attitude and preparation to get the most possible out of your next virtual event. 

Just because an event is hosted over Zoom or a webinar platform don’t think of it as any less valuable than if you were attending in person. If you find a single valuable idea during the course of the talks, and take committed action to put that idea into practice, you are likely to recoup the cost of your ticket many times over.

Above all, you need to be disciplined heading into the event. Just because you’re attending it at home it’s not an excuse to have Netflix on in the background or to scroll through your phone from time to time. 

Instead, you need to silence your notifications, put yourself in the best frame of mind possible, and make a promise to yourself that you will extract every drop of value from the event. 

Ultimately, try and find events that come with solid word-of-mouth recommendations rather than just slick marketing. Try and match these with content that serves where you are at in your author career and where you want to get to next. 

By doing that, and following the ideas you’ve just read, you are likely to walk away from the event feeling it was more than worth your time. 

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