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First (Virtual) Conference Experience

Eliza Sylvia, Ph.D. Student in the Department of Communication, shares her experience about participating in her first (virtual) conference.

So: you’re going to a conference. Congratulations! You have survived the grueling process of generating a worthwhile idea, reading, reading, reading (and probably some more reading after that), eventually constructing an abstract, then a full paper, until it’s ready for submission to an upcoming event. Your acceptance letter is the shining gold star sticker that you have worked so hard to receive.


Unfortunately, the hard work does not stop there. You may have completed the most academic portion of this process, but now a road of administrative tasks and social preparation lies ahead of you.


During the summer of 2020, I completed my first journey down this path. I had two presentation applications for a social science paper I wrote accepted to two conferences in July. It was a thrilling, terrifying, humbling, and above all else – educational experience. My only previous experience with presenting had been in a classroom setting, a relatively simple and coordinated activity. While this is great to receive feedback and enhance your presentation style, it does not really prepare you for the full conference experience.


Things I learned through my first conference experience


Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent health practices that happened this summer, my first experience in the world of academic conferences was completely virtual. However, many of the things I learned will still be applicable when we make the shift back to in-person events.


1. Find out where your conference is being held and if there is a time difference.

My first online conference was held at a university in A