Who’d have thought we’d all miss user conferences and trade shows? After years of attending them we now find ourselves longing for convention centers and hotels, mile-long exhibit halls and messy finger food served on toothpicks. Ah, the good old days. But the reality of 2020 is a virtual reality, at least as far as meetings are concerned. So, what should we, as an industry, be doing to get the most out of virtual conferences?
First of all, don’t assume today’s virtual meetings are the same as yesterday’s webinars. Companies and trade groups are spending lots of time and money to change this experience, making it more collaborative, engaging, and, frankly, more interesting. And today’s virtual meeting technology has a created as close to a “live” experience as possible.
Also, don’t forget the obvious benefits for virtual conferences. No travel expenses and no extra time away spent getting there (which is usually a Saturday or Sunday, right?) and getting back. So, they’re extremely time and cost efficient.
Remember why we go in the first place. Training is the number one reason most folks attend user conferences, and there’s plenty that can be learned remotely. At our CalyxVision® 2020 user event in August, for example, they’ll be 20 hands-on training sessions with live Q&A.
In developing our program, we asked our clients and training experts what the most common skills and tasks that users are looking to master. Things like, how to create templates and reports; how to prepare LEs and CDs; and how to implement digital processes for your borrowers. The training sessions will be led by experts from our Professional Services Group and will be tailored to Calyx’s different software offerings (Point®, Path®, Zenly® and Zip®.) Beginner, intermediate and advanced sessions will be available to match attendees’ needs.
In addition to training, attendees come to conferences to be exposed to new ideas from marquee speakers and leading industry experts. CalyxVision 2020 has that covered as well.
Our keynote will be Josh Linkner, a nationally recognized entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author, venture capitalist and start-up mentor. His live presentation – “Big Little Breakthroughs: How Small Everyday Innovations Drive Oversized Results” – will stream on Tuesday, Aug. 18, from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. CT. It will explore the power of inventive thinking and creative problem solving in day-to-day situations.
In addition, there will be industry panels, led by executives from Plaza Home Mortgage®, Caliber Home Loans®, Freedom Mortgage® and Oak Tree Funding; as well as a presentation by top GSE officials on the new URLA and what it will mean to our industry.
No industry conference would be complete without an exhibit hall where attendees can browse and ask questions of current and/or potential service providers, right? Our Interaction Hub will be open each day during designated times that don’t interfere with valuable training and sessions, so attendees won’t miss anything.
The virtual booths will be fully staffed so visitors can get live answers and set up one-on- meetings meeting for demos.
Finally, what kind of user conference/trade show would it be without a little fun and a chance to win some amazing prizes? All that and more will be part of Calyx Vision 2020.
How to get the most out of virtual conference
With so many major tech conference – Apple, IBM, Microsoft, CISCO—going virtual, a cottage industry of learning experts has sprung up to help attendees make the transition as well.
Here is a sampling of some of their best advice:
- Do your pre-event diligence and schedule the sessions you want attend, just as you would a regular business meeting. [How can they do this with Calyx? Are there .ics links on the agenda they can click on to automatically download to their calendar?]
- Block off time to attend and don’t let yourself be distracted (I know this can be a challenge working remotely but setting aside blocks of time makes it more manageable.) Avoid multitasking.
- Commit to your own engagement and be “in the present.” Take notes (even if there are slides). Write down questions and ask them.
- Dress for the part. Okay maybe you don’t need to wear a sport jacket or heels while sitting at your computer but consider wearing the same business shirt or top that you’d wear on a corporate video meeting.
- Attend with a colleague, or better yet a group. Decide which sessions you want attend, and chat real-time with them, using text or other instant messaging platforms. Consider doing a post-session de-brief on Zoom or Microsoft Teams.