How to best use events and deadlines?

Example: Some of us will be at CLS, July 14-15. We would like to be as far along as possible, but perhaps some things deserve the most focus.

What are the best ways for us, as a team, to discuss/identify/communicate about our goals around work in anticipation of dates like this?

Are there organizing tools in GitLab to make use of aside from just announcements and discussion here at Discourse or similar?