There have been a few conferences and talks that I have wanted to attend, but unfortunately couldn’t due to factors outside of my control, such as chronic illness, time, distance, or finding out about awesome stuff after the fact. Most recently, I had to miss a conference I was really looking forward to due to an unexpected hospital stay, but I was still able to watch all of the talks I was most excited about. Here are my tips for dealing with professional event and conference-related FOMO, or fear of missing out.
Check for livestreams
At many major conferences, popular sessions have livestreams on the conference website or on the speaker’s website. I discovered this when I missed a keynote due to being stuck in traffic, and I was thrilled to be able to follow along and hear the inspiring words of the speaker. Some conferences also host livestreams on YouTube or other video streaming sites, so check around before the event if you can.
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See if the talk has been recorded elsewhere
I was telling one of my professors about a talk I really wanted to go to at a conference, and I was frustrated that I would not be able to be in two places at once. My professor then told me that I should search the title of the talk or the name of the speaker to see if the talk had been posted elsewhere, and I was thrilled to see that it had been recorded by the speaker themselves and posted online, and that it even had captions! Some people also post transcripts or recordings on their websites.
Follow the conference hashtag
Is there a conference hashtag circulating on social media? I was able to find many links to talks and conference materials using the conference hashtag on Twitter, and I was thrilled to see people were sharing this information in accessible formats. I also was able to easily find speakers that I could connect with on social media.
Contact speakers and see if they can send slides or a recording
Once upon a time, I had to miss a talk I was super excited about due to a migraine. I decided to look up the speaker on social media and send them a message asking if they could send me a link to their slides or other resources from their presentation because I was really sad to miss their talk. All of the speakers I have reached out to have gladly sent me their slides, materials, and even conference recordings for free and have been happy to answer my questions as well. I’ve also done this for people who wanted to read through talks I have given at smaller events.
Look for a master document with links for talks
At the end of many conferences, the conference hosts will send out a master document to attendees that contains speaker information and links to talks if available. This document is also posted on social media most of the time. I have referred to these documents many time when writing posts as well as reading more about sessions that I had to miss, and have found that this is invaluable information.
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Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies
My friend and I were once talking after a conference about our favorite booths, and they mentioned a company that I had been wanting to talk to about accessibility-related stuff. At first, I was super sad I didn’t get to see them in person, but my friend kindly gave me the company’s contact information so I could reach out and give feedback about one of their products. Some conference brochures also contain contact information for companies next to their booth names.
Look for a virtual pass
Some conferences allow attendees to attend virtually and receive access to all materials and conference resources in real time or shortly after the conference. I’ve taken advantage of this resource a few times and found it to be incredibly helpful, as I could watch talks from the comfort of my college dorm without having to worry about missing classes or getting lost in a random city. Check the conference website to see if this option is available.
I know that following a conference online does not fully replace the excitement of attending in person and the fun experiences and connections that can come from meeting professionals. However, I’ve found that these tips for dealing with conference FOMO have helped me tremendously with being able to learn new things from unique speakers, whether I am torn between attending three talks on the conference hall or stuck in bed dealing with issues related to my chronic illness. I hope these posts help others avoid conference-related FOMO as well!