4.9 When there's too much to do
This can be a real problem in large conferences. If, for whatever reason, you join a conference later than the other participants, or are unable to be involved for a while, the prospect of joining in can be a bit daunting. There will be lots of messages you haven't read and you may feel that everyone else knows each other.
The main thing to remember is that everyone will be pleased to ‘see’ you when you do join in, and will be helpful and supportive. Here are some strategies you can use in this situation:
If you don't have time to read all the messages, don't try! Use the message subjects and senders to decide which to read. Read any introductory messages explaining what the conference is about and telling you what the group is working on (generally these will be from the tutor or moderator).
Don't worry too much about discussions or activities which have finished. Maybe read any obvious concluding or summarising messages, but concentrate on the current activities.
Send a short message announcing your presence and apologising for the delay.
Just read messages for a little while, so you get the feel of the conference and understand what's going on.
If you're not quite sure what has been discussed already, acknowledge this in your messages. For example:
“Apologies if you've already covered this, but…”