Why You’ll Love Attending a Virtual Writers’ Conference

Northern Colorado Writers (NCW) is hosting their annual writers’ conference April 24–May 2. The cool thing? Most of the conference is virtual.

“I’m tired of attending virtual events,” you say. I hear you. It’s been a long year of Zoom and Google Meets and Microsoft Teams. Perhaps the idea of attending yet another video call has you wanting to crawl back under your covers—or drive up to the mountains and take a hike. And I’ll admit, attending a virtual conference means you don’t get to go somewhere new and see beautiful mountain scenery. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, almost every other aspect of a conference can be achieved from the comfort of your own home.

NCW is using a blend of Zoom and Whova technologies to get as close as possible to the in-person conference feel. With interactive video-call classes, a digital exhibitors’ hall and bookstore, and online networking opportunities, NCWC 2021 will help you learn from and interact with fellow writers and publishing professionals just like in years past. The conference boasts over 50 learning sessions, plus expert panels, networking events, and social hours. And it’s all virtual.

So here are four reasons you’ll love attending a virtual writers’ conference!

1: Virtual Learning

Screenshot of Whova conference agenda
A snapshot of the conference agenda

Let’s start with why you should love any writers’ conference: the opportunity to learn more about your craft. Writers’ conferences are chockful of classes on a variety of topics on both the craft and business side of writing. And here are just a few of the awesome virtual sessions at NCWC 2021:

Whether you write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, or anything else, this conference has something for you. I’m personally looking forward to teaching my class Where the Heck do I Put this Comma? A Punctuation Refresher (for a sneak peak, check out my post on commas in dialogue). With over 50 topics to choose from, the conference provides a virtual wealth of knowledge.

The Whova app makes it easy to review the agenda and add the classes you want to attend to your calendar. It’ll even remind you before each class starts.

2: No More FOMO

“All of those classes sound amazing,” you say. “How can I possibly choose which ones to skip?”

As someone who regularly struggles with the Fear Of Missing Out, I appreciate this question. Throughout the five days of the conference, up to four sessions will be running concurrently (Check out the agenda). You’ll have to choose which ones you want to attend in real time—I recommend you focus on presenters you’d like to ask questions of and talk to live. But the great news is, you don’t have to miss out on a thing. All conference attendees will have access to the recordings of each session, keynote, and panel.

That’s also great news for those whose day job interferes with the conference schedule. Attend what you can, and watch the rest at your leisure.

3: Virtually Stress-Free Networking for Introverts

Screenshot of Whova virtual networking
I’m looking forward to seeing how other people answer their silly ice breaker questions. Avocados are where it’s at.

The virtual conference also takes virtually all of the stress out of networking. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun (and let’s be honest, that’s not really my only one in this post). But seriously, as an introvert, I understand the social anxieties that come with attending an in-person conference. If you just wanted to learn, you could do it from the safety of your own home, right? Right. So the point of a conference, then, is to meet other like-minded people. I know this logically, and yet, when I go to a conference in person, I find it incredibly difficult to turn 90 degrees and start a conversation with the stranger on my right.

Cue the virtual conference! With Zoom meetings, you can keep your mic and camera off in those moments when social anxiety is too much. And then join in when you feel comfortable. Even better, the Whova app makes it easy to start conversations through private messages and forum discussions. It’s got some fun ice breaker questions. You can easily approach other writers and industry professionals to ask the questions foremost on your mind. NCWC 2021 has some top-notch faculty who will be just a click away.

Through Whova, you can keep track of who went to different sessions with you and seek them out later. And with profiles full of bios and social media links, Whova networking is close to my dream of a video-game-like interface for life. Now I can look at someone and see all their stats!

4: Gamify Your Conference

Screenshot of Whova virtual point earning
My ice breaker answers earned me points!

Speaking of video games, I am a big fan of gamifying my life. My productivity and habit-building improved enormously when I started using habitica.com to keep track of my to-do list. Earning fake money and imaginary pets is, for some reason, enormously satisfying to me. And NCWC 2021 is taking that feeling to the next level by providing the opportunity to gamify your conference experience.

As you participate in sessions and conversations, you will earn points and take your place on a leaderboard of all the conference attendees. Join the competition to win some some amazing prizes. Examples include a new laptop, free 2022 conference admission, books on writing, gift cards, and more.

Screenshot of virtual exhibitor raffle drawing
A beautiful raffle prize

And speaking of prizes, you can earn a pretty awesome selection of door prizes simply for being at the conference. Plus, in the exhibitor’s hall, you can access all kinds of raffle drawings and coupons for services related to writing and publishing. So even if you don’t earn a lot of points, you’ve got chances to win!

But I have to say, I think the real victory from the gamified conference experience is the encouragement to participate more fully. Even as I was exploring the app for this post, I found some really cool businesses and learned some fun things about different presenters and participants. The quest to earn points has already tricked me into networking more effectively than I ever have at an in-person conference. Sneaky sneaky Whova.

Hope to See You Virtually!

A virtual conference is really the best of both worlds. You can learn and network like before, all from the comfort of your own home—and you control the schedule. Plus, the digital arena provides new and exciting ways to interact and benefit from your experience. You will love it! Can’t wait to see you there 🙂

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