By Sharon Muza, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
It’s conference time
Summer for those in the Northern Hemisphere is a time to kick back and relax, because the living is easy. Lazy days of summer may at times feel unproductive. Did you know that by registering for the 2017 Virtual DONA International conference, you can BE productive while relaxing under the shade of a nice umbrella? Are you ready to learn and connect virtually July 27-29, 2017.
This year’s conference is one that does not require any travel expense or time, missed births or postpartum shifts, packing of suitcases, or any inconvenience because it is totally virtual. Additionally, registrants can view conference sessions for up to 90 days from the start of the conference. You get to “attend” all the sessions, some live as they happen and others in the conference archives. You can even go back and watch them again and again during that 90 day period until you are satisfied.
A virtual conference means that birth and postpartum doulas along with other professionals and consumers who participate can learn and connect virtually from wherever they are located around the globe. With technological advances in virtual conference platforms, attendees can interact with each other, the presenters and exhibitors and are able to watch presentations in real time.
This year’s theme is “Cultivating Connections: It starts with us” and the program is jam-packed with leaders and innovators who work with families during the childbearing year. Attendees can learn from amazing plenary speakers such as DONA founder Penny Simkin (What Do Doulas Really Do? The Value of Connection), Nancy Morhbacher (The Best Start: Strategies to Reduce Early Feeding Problems), Carol Sakala (Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth: 2017 Cochrane Update) and more including Hakima Tafunzi Payne, Christine Morton, James McKenna, and Hermine Hayes-Klein. Concurrent speakers include Gail Tully, Lorenza Holt, Heather Plett and Morgane Richardson and many others. You can learn more about all the speakers and topics at the above link, and remember – you can view them all live or for 90 days after!
Happy 25th Birthday DONA International
Coinciding with the 2017 Virtual Conference is DONA International’s 25th birthday event. DONA is proud of our history and what we represent and we are in the mood to celebrate our contributions to improving the birth and postpartum experience for many families around the globe. The theme “Cultivating Connections: It starts with us” does not just refer to the connections between doulas and clients but with other professionals, our colleagues and our communities. This conference event is an opportunity to plan a birthday celebration with the other DONA doulas in your community. Consider setting up a social event in your area to celebrate with your peers using DONA International’s Birthday Party Pack to get you started. Filled with party theme ideas, games, recipes, and fun suggestions to really kick up the celebration, the DONA Party Pack has everything you need to throw a fantastic 25th Birthday party in perfect DONA style. Attendees might even consider wearing the brand new conference T-shirt to the bash!
DONA International is interested in your 25th Birthday Party celebrations. Share images, video clips, and more on social media using the #itstartswithus hashtag. Make your post or picture public and you will be entered to win a drawing for some fantastic DONA prizes just for sharing your activities!
If you are still on the fence about attending this great virtual conference learning opportunity to cultivate connections, earn continuing education hours and increase your knowledge and skill set, check out this video from experienced virtual conference attendees, sharing why they love the virtual conference experience.
Do some doula marketing
DONA International has thought of everything for the 2017 DONA Virtual conference and 25th Birthday Party. To create buzz in your community about doulas, DONA International and our 25th birthday celebration, DONA International Director of Marketing and Public Relations Melissa Harley has prepared a press release that you can customize and share with your local resources. Access that press release here.
Tips for maximizing your virtual conference experience
Similar to an in-person conference to there is a lot to take in and many hours of valuable content to absorb. Attending a virtual conference is certainly different than traveling to an in-person event. In-person or virtual, attendees are participating for the purpose of learning new topics that enhance their service to their clients, increase their own knowledge and expand their skills.
When participating in a virtual conference or webinar, it can be easy to start multi-tasking or become distracted by other things on your device or computer. There might be a tendency to listen and watch with one eye and ear, while using the other to get some work done. This might not leave you in the best position to fully absorb and take up the information that is available to you. Here are some suggestions and tips on how to get the most out of virtual webinars and conferences.
Test your equipment in advance. Make sure that you have downloaded the conference application and tested both the visual and audio portions in advance of attending. Virtual conference platforms have techs standing by to help you through any technical difficulties you might be having.
Log in a few minutes early. You want to be all ready to go without fussing at the last minute.
Close other open online apps and pages. Not only does this help free up bandwidth for your system, so there won’t be any distortion or lags, but it also helps you to focus on the content being delivered. Turn your phone on silent, so you don’t get distracted by texts and calls.
Have printed material ready. Print out (if you are printing) any worksheets, documents and slide decks that the speaker has shared in advance of the session. This way you can be ready to fully participate and follow along.
Consider childcare. If you have children that might need attention during your viewing, consider having childcare plans to allow you to focus and be fully present. If children make it hard to watch live, remember that you can always circle back over the next 90 days to catch up with what you missed.
Take notes as the session proceeds. You may want to jot down some notes, ideas or questions as things move along. It will help you to be effective with the information you are learning, and better be able to synthesize it after.
Be ready to participate. There may be quizzes, polls, “hand raising” chat features and other opportunities to participate in “listen mode” and you want to do so if at all possible. It makes the event more active, keeps viewers engaged and it is a lot of fun.
Remain and engage through the Q&A. Even if you don’t have any questions of your own, you may find it very useful to hear what other participants are asking, as well as how the presenter responds. The learning continues during this important part. Make an effort to ask a question yourself during the live presentation. It helps you stay more tuned in. Others may be interested in the same question that you are. If you are watching the session recorded – consider emailing the presenter with any questions after you view their session.
Take action as soon as possible. Try to implement, practice or synthesize what you just learned. The sooner you can apply your new knowledge, the sooner you will take in and own what you have learned. Write down your next action steps with a due date and hold yourself accountable. You paid good money for this information, so the next step is applying it to your practice. Don’t consider the webinar or session over until you do!
Share what you learned. Social media is a great place to continue the discussion and share some big takeaways. It creates an interesting conversation with peers and colleagues and positions you as a subject matter expert among clients and potential customers.
Complete the evaluations in a timely manner. Providing your feedback to the conference or webinar organizers is very valuable to them and the presenter. When the event is fresh in your mind, your information can be articulate and accurate. As time passes, the details become fuzzy and you may not be able to provide useful evaluations.
Bring on the fun and learning
There are many benefits to attending a virtual conference, but getting the most out of the experience takes planning, preparation, and intention. Your continuing education opportunities are valuable uses of your time and money. Keep these tips in mind as you get ready to “Cultivate Connections” with other professionals as passionate about families during the childbearing year as you are. If you have not registered, head on over to the DONA Virtual Conference page now and get yourself signed up. Also, remember to sign up for conference text updates to be kept totally up-to-date. Info at the above link.
With this outstanding speaker line-up and the amazing 25th Birthday Party celebration, along with the ability to access virtual conference material for three full months, there is no reason not to be participating. Go register now to be sure that you don’t miss one single component of this amazing opportunity. Are you an experienced virtual conference goer? Do you have any tips you might add in our comments section that we have not covered? Share your wisdom in the comments section below.