How Does a Virtual Conference Work?

For me, state, regional and international conferences are all about networking with old friends and meeting new folks in the vision field, listening to innovating presenters, and checking out cutting-edge technology. Participating in a session and then chatting about the session afterwards with like-minding colleagues - is priceless! Sitting down to discuss issues, share ideas and brainstorm solutions is - almost - as important to me as sitting in the sessions. So how does this networking piece factor into a virtual conference? 

I'm amazed at the social interactions available during a virtual conference! Let's take a look at one virtual conference platform, called 10times. This is the platform that the SOMA conference is using. (Southeastern Orientation and Mobility Association)

Getting Started

You do have to register for the desired conference to join. Once registered,  join by selecting the provided conference link. The virtual conference is set up similar to a face-to-face conference. Let's go explore the 10times virtual conference platform!

Virtual Conference Areas

The column on the left has 7 buttons that enable you to move around to different areas in the virtual conference.

  • Floor: The Floor shows ALL the events (sessions), vendor booths, etc.
  • Stage: The Stage shows all the events that are currently happening. If the conference has four threads running at the same time, you will find only those four sessions which are currently live.
  • Lobby: The Lobby lists all the people who are on the platform. If the person currently is not in the Lobby, you can leave a message for that person. The person will receive the message alert if he/she is on the platform; if the person has left the platform, he/she will receive the message the next time he/she is on the platform.
  • Lounge: The Lounge has tables where you can sit and chat with friends and colleagues.
    • Each table has a maximum of 4 people.
    • Click on Watch (button in the right column) to listen in without joining the group; the group does not know that you are listening in!
    • The group can click on Private (button in the right column) so that no one can listen in or join.
  • Booths: The Booths are the vendor booths. Each vendor can set up his/her booth with information, link to website, etc. The vendor can position his/her camera to show and demonstrate products. Anyone can leave a message for the individual vendor.
    • Vendors can have individual discussions with visitors.
    • If the vendor is available, their button will say "Enter".
    • You can also leave a message while you are talking with the vendor. This is a nice feature if you want to share your contact information, etc.
    • If the vendor is currently in a discussion, leave a message for the vendor.
  • Handouts: All the session handouts are organized by session and available here.
  • Help Desk: Have a question? Conference organizers and volunteers are available here. Chat live or leave a message.

Personal Settings

On the right side of the screen is a column with your personal settings. Additional options may be available, depending on where you are in the conference room. The standard options are:

  • Mic: Mute or unmute your device.
  • Camera: Turn your camera on or off.
  • Present: Share YOUR screen.
  • Discuss: This option is used differently depending on where you are on the platform.
  • Polls: Session presenters may ask participants surveys or polls during their session.
  • Leave: Select Leave to leave a session or where you currently are.

Note: Areas like the Lounge have additional options such as Watch and Private.

Dona Sauerburger and friends created this YouTube video to demonstrates how the 10times virtual conference platform works. See Donna's video below.


Note: The SOMA conference (Dec. 14 -15th) is using the 10times virtual conference platform. There is an Open House Saturday September 26, 2020 and Tuesday Sept. 29, 2020  for conference participants to explore the virtual conference platform. This Open House is only for those who are registered for SOMA. Go to the SOMA website for more information about the conference.

Wow - just wow! Who knew that a virtual conference could be so much fun! I think I'll go join Dona at table 2. . . 

How Does a Virtual Conference Work Pinterest pin