Five Takeaways from the 2020 HRSWC Conference

The 2020 HRSouthwest Conference is in the books! While this year’s conference wasn’t initially planned as a virtual event, we successfully pivoted, and our audience of enthusiastic attendees responded with a 97% favorable rating. Our theme was Embrace the Future, though we felt the conference and our attendees also embraced the moment.

The conference is over, but our virtual platform is still open through Friday, November 6 for attendees who are still interested in catching up on sessions they missed or reliving highlights.

Speaking of highlights, here are the top five takeaways from the 2020 conference.

#1: Michael C. Bush’s Opening Keynote

As the CEO of Great Place to Work®, Michael C. Bush spoke to attendees about organizations that prioritize a culture of inclusiveness—and how it translates to higher performance and revenue growth. He shared inspiring stories of creating more equitable work environments, a message particularly relevant to our present. Attendees shared their reactions in chat, making comments like “[a] reminder of the universal desire to be respected and that we are now more than ever integrating work with home, not balancing,” and “I am a better person for having heard this presentation and will strive to make my organization a better place to work for all.”

#2: Michelle Poler’s Closing Keynote

Author of Hello, Fears and founder of the Hello Fears movement, Michelle Poler inspired us to fear less, do more. In her keynote, she shared stories and visuals of her 100 Days Without Fear experience and challenged us to step out of our comfort zones—and into our full potential. Attendees resoundingly responded to Michelle’s talk, sharing comments in chat like “Michelle’s closing session was uplifting, energizing, presented with enthusiasm, and just a perfect cap to end the day and the conference. Absolutely PERFECT!”

#3: More credit hours and on-demand content

We brought  the value of the HRSWC’s in-person event to the homes of our attendees. In doing so, we focused on offering more content and credit hours than ever before: 31 recertification hours in total. We pre-recorded session content and had speakers join the session to engage with attendees in real-time.

In addition, we have extended access to the on-demand content through November 6 for all conference attendees—giving everyone more time to engage and learn.

#4: Education with fresh faces and returning favorites

Our lineup of educational sessions featured a mix of new speakers and attendee favorites from prior conferences. A few of the highest-rated sessions included:

  • Michael DePonte (Speaker Hall of Fame inductee) on “Ageism in the Workplace: Like a Fine Wine, Some People Get Better with Age”
  • Summer Jelinek on “5 Keys to Unlocking Your Leadership Potential – The Magic of Leadership”
  • Davis Robinson on “Employee EnCAGEment or Engagement? 6 Tactics to Unleash the Potential of your Employees”
  • Marina Galatro on “Want Unlimited PTO? Things to Consider before Implementing Such a Program”

#5: Networking connections

Of course, pivoting to a virtual event posed a challenge to networking, which is something attendees look forward to each year at HRSWC. Our team replicated the spontaneous conversations that happen on the way to sessions, over lunch, or while strolling Marketplace booths. We took a few key steps to enhance connections between attendees: 

  • Each session featured a live chat allowing speakers to engage with attendees, and attendees to connect with each other.
  • We created “The Daily Download,” Zoom meetings on Monday and Tuesday encouraging attendees to turn on their cameras and chat. These hourlong sessions were split into facilitated chats and informal interest groups via Zoom Breakouts. We saw how they helped attendees bond over conference highlights and make new connections.

Virtual networking is still networking. In fact, making these vital connections digitally helped enhance meeting face-to-face in the future, as connections already have common ground.

This year has been a challenge for everyone, professionally and personally. Our team learned the virtual elements of the HRSWC conference made it more inclusive and accessible to our community. While we look forward to seeing you in person at a future conference, we enjoyed the experience of “seeing” you online this year.

DallasHR is the third largest SHRM affiliate chapter in the nation. With more than 2,300 engaged HR professionals, the Chapter has been Advancing the Value of HR since 1939 through cutting-edge education, fun networking events and opportunities to share best practices with others in the field of HR. The Chapter powers The HRSouthwest Conference, one of the largest regional HR events in the U.S. hosting more than 2,400 attendees in Fort Worth annually. DallasHR events are held in both Dallas and Collin Counties. Visit us at to join or to register and follow us at #DALLASHR, #HRSWC.