Article Features by Katie Pebler

2020 Annual Conference & Expo
Maximize Your Virtual Annual Conference Experience: 10 Ways to Prep Like a Pro

Katie Pebler is conference program manager for the League and can be reached at

It’s time to get ready for the 2020 Annual Conference & Expo! Are you excited? We are! Preparing for a three-day virtual conference will be different from preparing for a face-to-face conference. You don’t need to book a hotel or airfare, but you can take many actions to help create a valuable and memorable experience.

Enjoy this list of top 10 ideas to get the most out of the event.

1. Take time to familiarize yourself with the technology.

We know, we know — few people like to learn new technology, but the League has designed an easy-to-use and interactive website specifically for the Annual Conference & Expo. After you receive your unique login a few days before the conference, take some time to familiarize yourself with the features of the conference platform.

2. Review the session descriptions and bookmark the session materials page.

The lineup of sessions may be hard to choose from, so it’s a good idea to pick your priority sessions. Recordings of the sessions will be available for viewing for six months after the conference, so you’ll want to decide which to attend live and which to schedule for later viewing. All session materials will be posted as they are received online at Staff highly recommends that you bookmark the session materials page to easily pull up the presentations you will see.

Pro tip: Spend a few minutes adding your must-see sessions to your Outlook or Google calendar, and include time to review recorded sessions after the conference.

3. Attend the sessions from the best seat in the house.

The Annual Conference Opening General Session begins at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Join us from your preferred remote spot with your favorite snack, a notebook to jot down your take-aways, and a good set of speakers or headphones. Make sure your water bottle is filled and ready to go, and plan to watch a couple of sessions in a non-office setting, such as your backyard or patio. All you need is your laptop or favorite mobile device. Cue the slippers!

4. Find new ideas and state-of-the-art products and services inside the Virtual Expo.

The first-ever Virtual Expo will present many companies offering online videos, product showcases, related upcoming events, and much more. Speak to the sales staff for demonstrations of how their products and services can improve all facets of city business within the California economy. You’ll find it very convenient to locate all exhibitors by product categories and company names. Look for a direct link on the conference website to visit the Expo anytime during the conference.

5. Save time for networking.

This conference is not just about the presentations. Take advantage of the many opportunities for networking in the Virtual Expo and at scheduled events such as the CitiPAC Reception
and diversity caucus and division events. Don’t forget to download or create a variety of virtual backgrounds to use during networking events!

6. Review the Annual Conference Resolutions.

Policy development is a key part of the League’s legislative effectiveness. Annual Conference Resolutions provide a way for city officials to directly participate in developing League policy.

Resolutions must focus on direct municipal issues of statewide importance and can be submitted by any elected or appointed city official, individual city, division, department, policy committee, or the board of directors. Resolutions for 2020 were due to the League Aug. 8. All background information and resolutions are available at A petitioned resolution can also be introduced during the Annual Conference to address any late-breaking issues.

Resolutions will be considered up to three times: before the conference at policy committee meetings, during the conference at the General Resolutions Committee meeting, and finally during the General Assembly.

Each city council designates a voting delegate to represent its city during the General Assembly. Your city may also appoint up to two alternate voting delegates who may vote if the designated voting delegate is unavailable.

7. Get acquainted with the League Partners.

In addition to the exhibitors, attendees will find a special zone to visit the League Partners in the League Partners Pavilion of the Virtual Expo. Many League Partners will also host booths in the Virtual Expo. Take some time to get to know these companies and organizations that support cities in a variety of ways throughout the year. And cities receiving a 2020 Helen Putnam Award, a program sponsored by the League Partners, can also be found in the Expo.

8. Visit the Member Services Booth in the Virtual Expo.

League members have access to a wealth of information and opportunities to get involved and better their communities. Visit the Member Services Booth, located in the Virtual Expo hall, for information on opportunities for professional growth and League services available to you and your city.

9. Plan to attend your department meeting.

If you have not been to a department meeting at the League’s Annual Conference, you are missing out. Department meetings are made up of your colleagues in similar professions throughout California. Attendees gather to discuss the issues they are facing, hear timely legislation updates, and ultimately find common ground that propels their work on unified department goals, thus setting the course for positive change in their communities.

10. Avoid multitasking so you don’t miss the inspiration.

Aside from networking, most conference goers place inspiration and education at the top of their lists as the main reasons to attend a conference. This year’s virtual event has plenty of both to find, but we all know how easy it is to get sidetracked with email and other tasks. Take advantage of the scheduled breaks and check email as you would regularly, and set a timer to alert you when the next session is starting. Be inspired in the moment as you listen to speakers who will provide you with new tips, tools, and ideas to take back to your city.