Making the most of your conference experience

Use the following strategies to make the virtual 2020 OSBA Capital Conference and Trade Show a beneficial and unforgettable training and networking experience. Also, view the “Virtual Training and the Open Meetings Act” to be compliant during your virtual training.

Attend as a governance team
Although you may be in your own office or home, make a point of participating in the Capital Conference with your district’s leadership team. Encourage other members of your district staff to attend sessions relevant to their jobs and meet with Trade Show exhibitors to learn about new products and services being offered.

Explore the conference learning platform
The 2020 Capital Conference will be hosted via an online learning platform provided by eventPower, which you may not have used before. To make the most of your time during the virtual event, take an hour or two before the conference begins to play around in the event hub. Find out how to access sessions, check your audio and work out any glitches.

To help you become familiar with the learning environment, OSBA will hold a conference orientation on Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. You will learn how to log in to the virtual conference and update your attendee profile; view session information and create your personalized schedule; find Trade Show exhibitors and conference sponsors; and use the chat and Q&A features to engage with other attendees.

The conference orientation will be recorded and posted for you to view at your convenience. Exploring the platform prior to the event will help you get the most out of the virtual conference.

Limit distractions
When you travel to an in-person training or conference, you’ve allocated time to focus on the professional development being presented. It’s important to do the same for a virtual conference. Review the session listings and add the ones that interest you to your personal schedule to plan your time at the Capital Conference.

It’s tempting to multitask when watching an online presentation or participating in a networking event. Doing other things can distract you from fully engaging in the event and ensuring you get the most out of your Capital Conference experience.

Devote the same attention to the virtual conference as you would an in-person event:

  • block out time on your calendar to attend the conference and close your office door;
  • set an out-of-office alert on your email and close your email window and other browser tabs;
  • notify those most likely to call, text, drop in or otherwise interrupt that you will be unavailable and put your phone down.

Engage with attendees
Take advantage of networking opportunities during the Capital Conference. Join a Networking Session to learn about and discuss topics such as new school board member engagement, OSBA region events and the top five questions with OSBA’s chief executive officer. You also can participate in chats led by other associations and organizations that impact Ohio public education.

Use the Q&A and chat features during learning and spotlight sessions to ask questions and share best practices with other session participants. Session presenters will be on hand to answer your questions and provide additional insights.

Use the hashtag #OSBACC to connect with conversations on social media and learn what education leaders across the state think about the different sessions.

Take a break
Just like an in-person event, the virtual conference experience will have scheduled breaks, including 15-minute breaks between concurrent learning sessions and a one-hour break for lunch. Use these breaks to stand up, stretch, take a walk and stay hydrated. This will help you stay alert as you learn new information and interact with exhibitors and other attendees.

In addition, special events such as Morning Yoga, a Coffee Chat and Afternoon Refresher Breaks ensure you are energized for a day of learning.

Review and replay
The conference learning and spotlight sessions will be available for on-demand viewing through Dec. 31, 2020. You can return to the virtual conference to watch additional sessions, which provides an invaluable learning opportunity.

Other tips

Before the conference

• Plan which sessions you will attend. If there is more than one person from your district attending the conference, get together to coordinate your schedules to get the widest possible exposure to available programs.

• Review the listing of Trade Show exhibitors to plan which booths to visit.

• Review the tentative schedule and plan your days at the virtual event.

During the conference

• Use the chat feature in the virtual event and while in sessions to exchange ideas with board mem­bers and administrators from other districts.

• Visit the Trade Show to learn about the latest in education-related goods and services. There’s sure to be some money-saving, value-added information to pick up from the nearly 200 vendor booths.

• Keep a daily log of what you do; you’ll be surprised how much you’ve covered.

• If you use social media, share your thoughts and engage with other attendees on Twitter by using the conference hashtag, #OSBACC.

• Visit the OSBA Pavilion in the Trade Show to chat with OSBA staff. Whether answering questions or holding a brief consultation, OSBA staff will be available to attendees Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; and Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

• Stop by the OSBA Help Desk to chat with OSBA staff if you need guidance is using the virtual conference platform. The OSBA Help Desk will open Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; and Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

• Allow some time for rest and relaxation. The Student Achievement Fair, Art Show and Performance Showcase, complete with student performance groups and artwork, is a great place to relax and learn about innovative programs at other school districts.

After the conference

• Send out news releases discussing the sessions you attended or participated in. For the most im­pact, include some personal impres­sions you had of the meeting in the form of a direct quote.

• Make sure you report on the conference at your next board meeting or write a summary of the meeting for board members and administra­tors who did not attend. Make sure that reporters, editors and news directors from the local media get copies.

• Return to the virtual conference through Dec. 31, 2020, to visit exhibitors booths or watch learning and spotlight sessions on-demand. The virtual conference will remain open through Dec. 31, so be sure to return to check out areas you may have missed during the live event.

• Publicize ways that the ideas you picked up at the conference will save your schools money, add to dis­trict efficiency and improve student achievement.

• Review your notes while they are still fresh and share the information, including handouts, you received with others in your district.

• Remember that planning for next year’s conference begins immediately after the event. If you have any suggestions, please share them with OSBA as soon as possible.

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