ACES 2021 Online was full of new experiences and opportunities for both presenters and attendees.
After the success of the online modality used for the 2020 conference, ACES decided to host the 2021 conference completely online again. The conference offered 24 virtual sessions with two keynote speakers: Alaina Lavoie, communications manager at We Need Diverse Books and Anissa Gray, senior editor at CNN.
The 2021 topics ranged from diversity in the editing profession to Word macros.
Virtual networking was another big part of the conference as building in-person connections has been limited by the effects of the pandemic. Laura Poole, owner and founder of Archer Editorial Services and recipient of the ACES 2020 Robinson Prize, said that her favorite part about attending in-person ACES conferences was making personal connections.
“Sadly, online conferences make networking a little harder. It happens organically at in-person events: in the presentation room, during breaks, at meals… The networking I’ve done in person has led to many unexpected career opportunities and a legion of good friends,” Poole said.
However, there were different ways attendees could communicate with each other and with presenters. The Pathable platform offered a chat feature during the scheduled session times through which people shared their thoughts and responded to others. Furthermore, there were live sessions that enabled a more personal interaction with presenters.
In addition to those networking innovations, the conference offers easier access to all sessions since attendees will be able to view sessions through the end of July.
Lavoie shared that she looked forward to the accessibility that virtual events offered to new people that are not usually able to attend in-person events.
“I think that the virtual modality will allow for increased access and might make it possible for people to attend more panels and events than they normally would (because going to so many in a row can be exhausting and you have to fit in a lunch break),” Lavoie said.
Both Poole and Lavoie agree that online conference attendees have to take a greater initiative by engaging with others during and after sessions, exchanging contact information, reaching out to speakers and connecting with others through social media.
The excitement and expectations for this year’s conference were really high.
“I think one of the best side effects of virtual events is that they’re opened up to many new people who might not have otherwise been able to attend,” said Lavoie.
“The limited sessions will make it easier to choose what to attend (a real dilemma at live conferences!) and will increase attendance and engagement in those sessions,” said Poole.