Connection Point reached out to Apryl Alexander-Savino, director of conferences for the Association for Talent Development, about the ATD Virtual Conference and learning opportunities that talent development professionals can look forward to in the the months ahead.
The ATD Virtual Conference was a brand-new venture for ATD. What has been the greatest takeaway from this week of virtual learning?
We are so accustomed to in-person events, and we wanted to deliver a quality experience that would resonate with the audience and provide opportunities for networking and engagement that are similar to a face-to-face event.
The biggest takeaway was how the virtual learning platform actually enabled more interaction in so many ways: the chat and Q&A features enabled people to engage around session content in ways that would have been disruptive in a live session room or that get truncated into a five- to 10-minute conversation after a session while you’re trying to run to the next one. Also, the number of people who were able to direct link to their social media accounts to keep the engagement going outside of the event was beyond what we could have hoped for.
With all the world events recently, it’s so easy to focus on all the things we can’t do, but the joy of this week has been seeing how we have all adapted and engaged despite those challenges. I think the biggest takeaway is really to be open to the opportunities, risk failure, learn as you go, and be authentic in the process. We’ve seen that in our own work, with our presenters, and with our attendees this week.
And the learning isn’t over just yet for Virtual Conference attendees right?
Not at all. The conference platform will remain open for 90 days, so registered attendees can access all of the content, continue messaging others, post in chats, and learn about the sponsors through September 6, 2020. For anyone who missed a live session, we have posted recordings of most of the live sessions already and should have all of the recordings up by the weekend.
There is no change to the site or to log-in details, so attendees can continue to participate just as they did this week. We encourage them to take advantage of all of the sessions for a veritable summer of learning.
For those who weren’t able to register and attend the Virtual Conference this week, you still have the opportunity to register and access all content through September 6.
What’s next for ATD? What type of learning events can talent development professionals look forward to in 2020?
While we would love to meet face to face, we know that many companies have extended travel restrictions through the end of 2020 and that most of us are still uncertain about how a large group gathering can come together safely with all of the unknowns around COVID-19. Instead, we are going to take all of the best practices from the ATD Virtual Conference and deliver different but equally compelling virtual programs this fall. Stay tuned for details on these programs and the planning as we continue through the summer.
Looking ahead to 2021, can talent development professionals start thinking about in-person ATD events such as ATD TechKnowledge and the ATD International Conference and EXPO returning next year?
Absolutely! We recognize the need for collaboration and learning to create more innovative talent development solutions for the future, and we believe events such as ATD TechKnowledge and the ATD International Conference and EXPO that bring together thought leaders, innovators, and practitioners to solve challenges will be more important than ever.
As we look ahead to 2021, we all face new considerations around attending conferences, conducting business, and traveling to meetings. Just as many companies are innovating to overcome the challenges this pandemic presents, we are adapting to the evolving situation. This includes our planning and preparation for ATD TechKnowledge in San Antonio, Texas, and ATD 2021 Conference in Los Angeles, California.
We will be transparent with our plans and expectations so people can gauge their comfort level and so that the field can learn from what we are doing. That said, we ask for flexibility and understanding as we progress through the planning process and determine the best ways to make this happen. We will regularly update the Attendee Experience page of the individual conference websites with information about how we are planning the events.
We expect to make changes and enhancements to the event experience to accommodate current health, safety, and physical distancing recommendations from the leading international and national agencies while following any state and local guidelines. We know these guidelines and recommendations may change, and our promise to you is that we will deliver the best experience we possibly can while following top experts’ and agencies’ recommendations. We are committed to convening face to face and facilitating the dynamic conversations, unparalleled education, and fun that you have come to expect from ATD’s events while doing so in a responsible manner using best practices, innovative ideas, and technologies from across industries to deliver an exceptional experience.
What can TD professionals do to stay informed of the new learning opportunities?
ATD has a plethora of learning opportunities. One of the best ways to say up to date is through ATD membership. You’ll be in the know about all the latest offerings, resources, and opportunities. New content is published every week; TD magazine is a treasure trove of information for talent development professionals; our books are top-notch, practical resources; and our courses are highly rated. As an association, we try to meet people where they are with the resources and opportunities they need, so I’d encourage people to dive in!
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