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How to Get the Most Out of Your Virtual Forum Experience

We are just under a week from the Alliance’s 15th annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum (October 29 – 30, 2020). This year’s Forum is fully virtual, which may be a new experience for many of this year’s attendees. Are you feeling a little underprepared when it comes to participating in this year’s Forum, or do you just want to make sure you have checked all the boxes in order to ensure this year’s experience is as seamless as possible?

Here is my advice for how to make the most out of your virtual Forum experience.

1. Set up your user account on Sched

A screenshare demonstrating how to go from accepting your Sched invite, setting up your password, and updating your Sched account information.

You should have received an email from our event platform, Sched, within 24 hours of registering for this year’s Forum. In order to create a personalized calendar, receive important updates about your sessions, and access the Zoom links to the sessions, you must create an account on Sched. If not in your inbox, check your Spam folder. Contact us at support@allianceforthebay.org if you have further questions.

To create an account, follow the link on your email invite titled, “CREATE YOUR PROFILE + SCHEDULE.” This link will take you to Sched so you can create your password, update your profile information, and set your privacy settings. Once finished, click “Save Settings.”

2. Create a personalized schedule on Sched

Screenshare of setting up a personalized schedule on Sched.

After setting up your account on Sched, you can go on to create a personalized schedule by clicking the circles next to each session title on the Schedule page. On each session page, you’ll find the session description, presenter bios, and the link to Zoom for the session.

With your schedule set, you’ll receive day-of email reminders, get updates from speakers on any important information or resources to help you prepare for your session, and can integrate it into Google Calendar, Outlook, and Apple Calendar.

3. Integrate your personal schedule into Outlook, Google Calendar, or Apple Calendar

Screenshare of syncing Sched personal schedule with Google Calendar.

After creating your personal schedule, you can sync your schedule to Outlook, Google Calendar or Apple Calendar. Select the smartphone icon at the top of the Sched homepage and click on the type of calendar you want to sync to.

4. Download Zoom for Desktop
All sessions for this year’s Forum will be hosted on the video conferencing platform, Zoom. If you have not already, download Zoom for desktop. Zoom is free and no account is required.

5. Join a session on Zoom

Screenshare of how to add to join a Zoom session from Sched.

When a session you plan on attending is about to start, navigate to the session’s page on Sched. At the top of the page, you’ll find a yellow button called “Open Zoom” or “Video Stream.” Click the button and the Zoom webinar or meeting will open.

6.  Come Prepared to Share, Engage, and Listen

A community mosaic with responses prompted by the question,

(Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

There is so much to see, do, and learn at this year’s Forum. We strive to improve the learning experience by making the Forum a safe and inclusive space. As such, the Alliance holds ourselves accountable to our Forum Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Guide and we encourage all Forum attendees to do the same.

I also suggest you think beyond Zoom by interacting with a Chesapeake Collective activity during the Forum. Chesapeake Collective is a creative platform for diverse voices to express their vision for a healthy bay watershed. While it does not include all of the diverse voices that make our watershed whole, it provides a platform and an open invitation for contribution by the people whose voices the dominant narrative often overpowers or leaves out entirely.

7.   Tell Us How We Are Doing

Audience member asks a question during the plenary presentation at the Forum.

(Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

We depend upon your feedback to improve the Forum experience. Please fill out the feedback request at the bottom of you each session’s Sched page.

8.   Have fun!

There’s no campfire or impromptu evening jam session this year for the Forum, but we hope you will join us in having a little fun virtually. On October 30th, deck yourself out a day early in favorite work-appropriate Halloween gear. 

Plan on taking a nature break between sessions? Take a picture of your surroundings and share it on social media with #ChesForum and #ChesCollective. The best photo will be selected after the Forum and will receive a prize!

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Jenny McGarvey Senior Program Manager, Virginia Office

Jenny is a senior program manager based in the Alliance’s Virginia office. She serves a dual managerial role over the Chesapeake Watershed Forum, ForumPlus, and Chesapeake Network, and aspects of our Chesapeake Forest program.

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