January 5, 2010 by Jeff Hurt
If you’re like me, you’re probably planning on attending at least one conference during the coming year.
How do you prepare for your conference attendance? Do you make a list of goals or people that you want to meet before you attend? Or do you attend with a free spirit attitude and let spontaneity rule?
Here Are Four Often Overlooked Tips To Make Your Conference Experience More Successful
1. Take The Path Less Traveled
During a conference, attendees tend to travel together in packs. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of attending all the same sessions with your friends, sitting on the bus with those you know and only going to receptions or networking sessions with people you’ve already met.
Break away from the pack. Take the path less traveled by your friends. Expand your horizons. Seek out conference attendees sitting alone in hotel restaurants, on the bus or in sessions. That way you’ll meet new people and build new connections.
2. Take A Break From The Information Shower
Many people feel like they need to attend as many sessions as possible, to learn as much as possible, to get the highest return on their registration dollar. How much of that information is retained and actually applied to the job?
Information at a conference is like a shower that is never turned off. You can stand under the shower and shrivel up, trying to scribble as many notes as possible with a non-waterproof marker. Or you can step away from the shower, dry off and take breaks from the constant information flow. Take some time to reflect on the new content and write some notes on how to apply those learnings when you return to the office.
To ensure that you retain new learnings, apply tip 3.
3. Share The Wealth
Can you quickly recall the top five take-aways you had from the last conference you attended? Doubtful.
So how do you ensure that you retain information from your conference? By sharing the wealth.
Write it down. Type it. Tweet it. Repeat it. Post it on Facebook and LinkedIn. Discuss it. Do as many things with the new content as soon as you learn it so you can recall it.
Immediately following the presentation, recap your thoughts with others. If there’s a networking or discussion group following the presentation, join it and discuss your findings. Upon returning to your work, take time to share your new learnings with coworkers. In short, talk about it, often and frequently before you leave the conference halls!
The more you can repeat your new learnings and share your take aways, the more likely you’ll retain the information and apply it to your job. Repetition is key to memory retention.
4. Be A Canteen
Canteens have a limited amount of space to carry an important life source, drinking water. Users must constantly refill them as they can’t force an entire year of drinking water into them.
While at the conference, don’t try to force an entire year of education and networking into a three or five day span. That’s unnatural and detrimental. When speakers provide content that resonates with you, write down their website or blog. When you meet industry influencers or smart thinkers, collect their social network profiles. Then visit their sites frequently, refilling your canteen with their fresh content all year long. That’s ensuring that your conference registration has a high ROI.
What conference tips would you add to this list? What rituals do you have before, during and after a conference? Conferencing minds would like to know. Share them with us.
Filed Under: Conference Education, Experience Design
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This post was mentioned on Twitter by ericlukazewski: New blog by @JeffHurt Four Overlooked Tips To Make Your Conference Experience More Successful http://bit.ly/8I7XBE #eventprofs…
Great tips, Jeff – When it comes to retention/application of new learnings, SIX is the magic number… The average person needs to see/hear/read/write/think about something 6 times for the information to move from short term memory to long term application. So when you have that “aha” moment at a conference, write it down – then create 5 more alerts to revisit this discovery in the near future to make it stick!
I love this list you came up with. This year is a scale back/prioritize year for me. Because of a work related injury I am trying to stay off my computer and do more face to face networking and using the telephone( I know its ironic I am typing this now)
What conference tips would you add to this list?
Smile, say hi and introduce yourself to everyone. Pretty basic but at a conference you are usually running to get somewhere and that look of hurry gets cemented on. I am a large man and I try and make myself approachable so I make an effort to smile. It may feel weird but I find it opens the door for me. But not everyone looks like Lurch so this may only advice for the big and tall. But it works for me. see you in Dallas Jeff.
Great advice. I know I’m guilty of trying to “get my money’s worth” overload. So true about being nice to the person standing alone…they are usually so grateful. Take it a step further by bringing them into your circle if you are part of the cool crowd. Remember what it was like your first time at the conference?
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