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2020 (Virtual) Adobe MAX: Pros and Cons

My first experience with Adobe MAX certainly wasn't a traditional one. All virtual, all online and all from my home office. Not exactly how I had imagined it. But that being said, there was still a lot to learn and a lot of inspiration to be found. For me, the Pros definitely seemed to outweighed the Cons.

Stills from Aaron Draplin's Session "What I’ve Learned Since March 15: Changes, Lessons, and Enlightenments"


No Cost

Okay, this one is pretty obvious. Having access to all these sessions for free is a massive win for creatives everywhere. And not only are the sessions free - being able to watch from home meant no need for travel costs, hotel costs, food costs. It allowed for people to attend who might have previously had to turn it down for monetary reasons. While I am sure I would have attended eventually, the cost of this. year's virtual event definitely accelerated my attendance and gave me my first glimpse into the MAX world.


No Networking

One of the best parts about attending conferences and large events like this is the networking part. Meeting people from all over with different backgrounds and different skill sets. Obviously, with everyone being at home instead of gathered in LA or Vegas or wherever, you really miss out on that part of the event. Live streams chats are no replacement for the real human interaction, the real connections and the real friendships that might have occurred.


Sessions On Demand 

MAX technically happened last week, but knowing I can go on today or next week and still have access to basically every session is huge. There we things I didn't get to see or sessions I was double booked on that I can go back and watch any time I want. Even sessions I want to watch a second time. Plus, having these on demand allows for people, like members of our creative team or other creative friends of mine, to recommend sessions they sat through and they found helpful. A whole extra level of sharing ideas and helping inspire each other.



One of the negatives to being at home and not technically taking off work to attend the conference is that it was hard to block out all the distractions of the day to day. Between laundry and email and everything else going on, it was easy to have sessions on and realize part way through that I wasn't giving it my full attention. There are a few that I will be watching for a second time. (This is definitely where the repeat viewing On Demand will really come in handy.)


Easy Access to Every Session

There were a few times where I got into a session and either it wasn't quite what I expected or I found I know most of the information where I found myself wandering back to the main sessions listings. When I selected my sessions, I had certain tracked selected so I didn't necessarily see all the available options. It was nice to be able to change my mind last minute and jump from one session to another without having to leave my seat. It made it very convenient to make sure the sessions I was taking were the best use of my time and energy.


No Swag

I am just being greedy here. Who doesn't want to walk the floor at a big conference and look at all the shiny new things and leave with a bag of goodies? I did get win a free t-shirt in an online drawing, but I am pretty sure I would have gone home with a FEW more things if I attended in person.


Learned A Lot about What MAX Has to Offer 

If you had asked me previously if I would find MAX valuable for my specific job title, I probably would have said no. But having seen whats available in the Business Productivity and Social Media tracks, I was excited. I filled in the gaps in my schedule with design-related courses and trying to expand my video capabilities, but those are definitely sessions I will need to watch again and play around with the software. Regardless, it was an impressive set of sessions and and impressive list of speakers. All of which I got to sample for free from home. Not a bad first MAX experience.


Much Needed Inspiration 

This year has been rough.(Duh.) And after 6+ months of working from home, MAX was a much needed injection of creativity and inspiration. Even speakers who were just talking about general creative and life topics, like Aaron Draplin, were a breath of fresh air. Sessions that dove into specific lessons made me want to dig into those programs with my own content and play around. So many new ideas, tips and tricks that can really get anyone recharged and ready to take on a new project that you might not have even thought of before. While I am sure that is true at the conclusion of any MAX year, it felt especially poignant in 2020.  

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