Virtually nothing better: 14 HUGE take-aways from a virtual conference

In the next day or two the Case Foundation will be releasing their report on lessons learned hosting the Millenniall Donor Summit back in June, a virtual conference on…you guessed it….Millennial Donors.  I was honored to be an official blogger correspondent and live-blogged every session.  I just got a sneak peak of the report and there are TONS of great take-aways for planning OR attending a virtual conference – here are (a few) of the biggest and best.

1. The Price is Right

All Bob Barker and Plinko jokes aside. To attend this conference you paid the $75 registration and needed a computer with internet connection. Are you kidding? No hotel. No airfare. No cab rides. No parking. No $7 bottles of convention center Mountain Dew.  Attendees saved a BOATLOAD and all were happy for it.

2. Do I smell cookies?

Ever walk into the exhibitor hall and someone’s baking cookies? Works like a charm. We couldn’t do that, but got close. Visually it rocked. The virtual exhibit hall looked just like one. I took advantage and used virtual carrots like free beer and girl scout cookies to draw people into my booth.

You could enter booths, download materials and chat with booth reps.  The keynote room also looked like it but didn’t have people hogging outlets for charging their laptops/iPhones and old dry muffin wrappers from the morning’s continental breakfast.

3. The Net-works

I’m pretty sure I engaged more in the virtual setting than in person. Not only can you carry on several conversations at once in chat rooms and via Twitter, but watching the #MDS11 hashtag you could basically follow the highlights and sound bytes of the other sessions.  This is happening more and more as in-person conferences grow in their use of technology but being virtual – #MDS11 was jam-packed with tweeters.  Also – no need to pass the microphone around the room until the 17 people who wanted to comment said their piece. We all said it at once and (*gasp*) actually discussed issues and moved the conversation forward (my apologies to the man/woman who likes to attend conference sessions and take 6 full minutes to ask their question leaving no time for the presenter to answer, or for others to engage…nah, I take that back. Stop it.)

4. Tech-know

The technology is there. It’s suggested that you log on at least 15 minutes early. I’d shoot for a test-run the day before in case you need to update your browser or try a different one (some struggled in Opera or Mozilla – apparently Safari or I.E. was best). I’d imagine that the use of tech also allowed the conference conveners to pull in the rockstars they did. Without a hefty donation or speaking fee, I’m not sure that leaders from Livestrong, Do Something, Zoetica, Sparked, American Red Cross, oh and Jean Case and Barbara Bush – would’ve made the trip.  They, like all attendees, logged in from their desk and presented from their trusty webcam.

5. The other 9

For attendees, these will keep you engaging and happy all day long.

  • Warn your twitter followers a couple times before-hand apologizing for blowing up their steams
  • Stay home – don’t rely on weak wifi, there’s no time for moving locaions
  • Make a comfy spot near the fridge
  • Make a comfy spot for the dog so they don’t paw at your leg annoyed you’re there but not giving them any attention all day
  • Hydrate
  • Be ready to toggle between views, screens, twitter, presenters, etc.
  • Write notes on paper as opposed to typing so you don’t loose the presenter when switching between Word, Evernote, etc. and the conference website
  • Eat better – have healthy snacks ready or you’ll still feel like you ate conference food all day
  • Personally thank presenters and attendees – hard to do this in person. Easy peasy on Twitter.

If you missed the conference, here’s all the posts my tired little fingers could muster…

Millennial Donors are already here

Win the lottery! (and a free pass to the Millennial Donor Summit #MDS11)

20 reasons why NOT to attend the Millennial Donor Summit

What to watch for at #MDS11

10 reasons #MDS11 is a dream…before 9:45AM

Livestrong and Mr. Youth don’t disappoint #MDS11

What I learned about Trust in 10 minutes from @Julien at #MDS11

5 Reasons @Sparked can change the volunteering world (from #MDS11)

7 ways to Create Killer, Engaged Fundraising Campaigns (from #MDS11)

A fireside chat with Jean Case at #MDS11

Thanks for reading! Want more? Don’t miss a post.

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