Advice to help you thrive in your higher-ed career. (No longer active.)

September 1, 2020

From: Denise K. Magner

Subject: The Quick Tip: How to Make the Most of a Virtual Conference

With so many academic conferences going virtual, they've become less exclusive and more affordable than in-person meetings. But how do you decide which meeting and which sessions will best fit your needs?

If you’ve never “attended” a virtual conference before (and sometimes, even if you have), it can be confusing to figure out which set of sessions will be a meaningful and useful fit for you. Here are some ideas to help you select, engage with, and get value out of your next virtual academic conference.

  • Get narrow. Maybe, like many faculty members, you've opted to spend your conference dollars first on virtual meetings that will strengthen your teaching-with-technology bona fides. As you scroll through the program, look for narrowly conceived sessions that will help you learn or improve a specific skill.
  • Get small. Choose events that attract a small number of people — say, under 150 — or find small communities within large online events. Before you attend, find out how to connect with other participants and send messages to a few people via social media or email so that, during the conference itself, you see at least a few familiar names on the online roster. Just having one or two “conference friends” makes virtual events less impersonal and more engaging.
  • Get ready. The most common reason people don’t get value out of a virtual event is that they don’t make time for it and give it their full attention. During a face-to-face conference, no one expects you to keep working with colleagues back home (at least, not as much). Establish the same expectations for online conferences.

Continue reading: "How to Make the Most of a Virtual Conference," by Thomas J. Tobin

Thanks for reading The Quick Tip, a free newsletter from The Chronicle. Twice a week, we’ll send you fast advice for your job and your academic life.

Suggestions for what you’d like to see here? Other thoughts? Please email Denise K. Magner, a senior editor who compiles this newsletter, at

Featured Resources
  • First Person
    How to get the most out of a scholarly meeting.
  • First Person
    In which I sit through a conference panel and do not obtain enlightenment.
  • Advice
    Want to advance your career? Improve your institution? Our academic experts have guidance for you, and we’ve made it easy to find.
Denise K. Magner is senior editor of The Chronicle’s advice section, which features articles written by academics for academics on faculty and administrative career issues.