#2021 Conference Preview by Janna G. Noelle, Volunteer Coordinator –
The biennial Historical Novel Society North America Conference, #HNS2021, is going to look a little different this year.
To ensure we all stay safe during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, for the first time ever, the conference will now be a fully online event.
One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is our need of conference volunteers.
Our need of you, whether you know it yet or not, for any or all of the following top five reasons to volunteer:
1. It’s now easier than ever
An online conference means all volunteer roles will take place in the comfort of your home. You could provide social media engagement with your favorite snack on hand or moderate the virtual chat of a session in your favorite stretchy pants and fuzzy slippers. We just need your involvement, not your fashion sense.
2. Meet new people
Not all volunteer positions will take place behind the scenes despite all of them taking place behind the computer. For you outgoing types, we’ll need people to be the face of the conference as well: moderating sessions, hosting virtual social events, providing technical support. Indeed, in an online conference where none of us are physically gathered, getting in front of the attendees and helping answer their questions is the very best way to meet new people.
3. Apply or learn new skills
Covid-19 has forced us all to up our online game. If you’re now a bona fide Zoom expert or a whiz at keeping people entertained and invested in online meetings, these are skills the conference organizers can use. Similarly, if you want to get better at Twitter, at interacting with people virtually, or at the lesser-used features of Zoom—all skills that can be carried back to our current daily lives—consider volunteering to put in that practice among folks with a shared interest (a love for historical fiction!).
4. Be part of history
The conference is already historical by virtue of its subject matter—and now we’re making history again in running it online for the first time. Years from now when the pandemic is a thing of the past, we’ll all look back and reminisce on how we spent our time. Why not have “volunteered for an amazing conference” on your list? What a great story and future memory that would make!
5. Help make the conference possible (and a success!)
Even though the conference format is new, our need for committed volunteers remains the same, for as always, the HNS conference is an all-volunteer production. It takes many hands to put on an event of this scale—even when the scale is shrunk down to the size of an iPhone. Folks with valuable online skills, or an interest in developing them, will be essential in helping make the conference a success.
If you’re planning to attend #HNS2021 and want to help make it even better, both for the other attendees and for yourself, consider signing up to volunteer!
Janna G. Noelle is the volunteer coordinator for #HNS2021. A writer and lover of historical fiction from Vancouver, British Columbia, she is also the co-founder/co-host of #HFChitChat, an online historical fiction community on Twitter.