How to Effectively Attend a Broadcast Event

Cassandra Langley, GBA Communications Specialist

Broadcast events may seem like the holy grail for multitaskers – you can theoretically maintain your regular, full workload, while also soaking up new information from speakers. You can keep one eye on your emails,  one ear on the current conference speaker, and one foot out the door for your next on-site meeting.

However, fragmenting your focus doesn’t do yourself or your firm any favors. Conference organizers and event venues go to great lengths to ensure meetings can take place with minimal interruption, but broadcast events lack the spatial control to do so. It’s important to implement a few best practices for attending a broadcast event so you can make the best use of your time and get the most out of the conference. Here are some ideas:

Make a pre-event plan. What are your goals for the event? Do you want to make connections? Get new ideas to present to your firm? How do your personal goals for the event fit with your career aspirations?

Tell your supervisor, coworkers, and/or mentor you’re attending a broadcast event and show them the agenda. Your supervisor can help you align your event goals to your career path. They may encourage other employees to register to attend with you.

Consider leaving your office to go to a favorite local remote working spot. A quiet corner of your local library will have minimal distractions and will take you out of your familiar setting (without having to completely leave town) just enough for you to remember what you’re supposed to be focusing on.

Set busy time on your calendar so no one requests meetings. In many cases, event platforms will integrate with your work calendar so you can add sessions seamlessly, but you can also do this manually by blocking out the entire day or just the times you will be actively attending a session.

Share on social media that you’re attending the event, along with a link to the event’s webpage for more information. Ask event organizers if they have a graphic they can send you or if you can use the event logo to go along with your post. Not only will this help support the organization and event, but it will also make it easier to connect with others in attendance and strengthen your professional network.

Explore the event platform or website before the event begins. Get familiar with where to find speaker information, session descriptions, the agenda, discussion groups, and resources. Many times, we plan to circle back to resources after the event but quickly get swept away with other duties and demands.

Close your office door and place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside, or at the entrance to your cubicle or workstation. An open door invites visitors and allows outside noise and activity to pull your focus.

Here’s a sign we made for GBA Fall Conference attendees.

Use headphones. Even if your surroundings are quiet, headphones help narrow your focus and stay engaged during the broadcast event.

Take notes during sessions. You can write down notes in a notebook (plan this beforehand so you’re not scrambling for sticky notes as a speaker is presenting). Start with a fresh, blank page and pen ready to go. Studies have shown that we remember things better when holding a writing utensil!

However, with handwriting going the way of the mechanical pencil sharpener, taking notes on your laptop or other device is better than not taking notes at all, so type away.

Create a new Word document dedicated to your event notes and list out the sessions you’re attending in advance, along with the speakers. This makes it easy to follow up with questions or comments during or after the presentation. You can also use the built-in notes apps on macOS and Windows for easy recordkeeping. If you have dual monitors at your workstation, have one screen dedicated to your event notes and the other dedicated to the presentations and sessions.

Silence notifications. You can silence all notifications on your phone or select apps. Here’s how to do this on an iPhone and an Android. You can set a schedule or set them to remain silent until you turn them back on.

Get up and walk around between sessions. Many broadcast events leave time between sessions, like in-person events do. Take this time to pop out of your office and do a lap around the building or your home. Grab a snack. Getting your blood flowing will help restore your zeal for the next session. Both broadcast and in-person events can be draining as you try to retain so much new information.

After the day or each session, make a note about your favorite thing from the day – what was most relevant to your job? What’s one thing you can take away and start using immediately? What’s something you need to tell a coworker about that may help them? How can you apply the new insights gained within your firm?

Participate in the chat sessions so other people see your name and can connect with you, too. Treat the event like the interactive experience that it is.

Don’t shortchange yourself because you’re attending an event online rather than in-person. You can get just as much value out of the educational sessions, group discussions, and networking opportunities as you can attending an event in a physical location in the company of others. Use a few or all of these ideas to maximize your time and financial investment.

GBA’s Fall Conference – a broadcast event –begins October 17 and it’s not too late to register! Learn more.