Making the Most of Attending the Conference!

Logo_For-SocialI know taking days away from daily work can be expensive in many ways. After attending several professional development seminars in my field over the years, in addition to 8 three- and four-day LiveText sponsored Assessment Conferences, I feel like I have a good idea of some of the most important things to do to get the most out of my time at a conference.

So if you’re attending or thinking about attending our 2016 Assessment Conference this July 11-13 in Chicago, let me share with you some tried and true tips I have used for maximizing time spent at the Conference.

Separate the knowledge from action. Ever take notes so furiously at a conference because you felt like every thought uttered was a new insight or at least something you never before considered? Been there! Whether you’re an avid note taker or just simply like to jot down big ideas, remember to separate the knowledge from the takeaway.

I recently came across my notes from a few different seminars I attended. When I looked back at the notes, I realized I really never even re-read these after the seminars. Quotes, observations, and advice were scribbled amidst many pages of notes. However, I kept the action steps that I had come up with during the seminars in a separate notebook – my “work notebook.” This allowed me to put into practice what I wanted after these seminars.

I’ve seen some people use a different color pen for their action items. Regardless of how you do it, recognize that any conference will probably overwhelm you with notations. So don’t let information overload keep you from taking action after the Conference. Make sure that for every piece of knowledge you find important enough to write down, you associate an action item with it. Applying the knowledge is key and will make your time at any conference more worthwhile.

Plan your agenda ahead of time. Use the Conference app provided ahead of time to plan your time. Pick out at least two session options for each breakout. That way if the first one is full, you already know where you want to head without wasting time, having to consult the registration table, or missing out on any valuable information. Planning your agenda ahead of time and knowing where you want to go ensures that you get in as many sessions as possible that are applicable to your interests.

Reflect for the Takeaway. Every presenter at a conference has his or her own style. Some people tell a story; sometimes there is a video or set of images, sometimes a formal presentation, sometimes a casual conversation. Regardless of the presenters’ styles, reflect at the end of each session and distill the presentation into one or two key takeaways for yourself. Ask yourself, what did I learn? What struck me? And do I want to do anything about it when I return back to work?

Embrace opportunity and talk to your fellow attendees. Some of the greatest benefits of a conference are often found in the seams of the experience. That chance conversation in the coffee line could make all the difference. A great conference is especially fertile ground for collaboration. I’ve often received the most useful information or even made a contact through casual conversation – especially in those beginning moments before a presentation. Those that know me, know that I am not one for small talk. But at events like this, it really is worth it!

Talk to the people in line with you; talk to the people sitting next to you in the sessions; talk to the people in the elevator with the same Conference lanyards. Find out what sessions they are going to and why. We’ve seen how valuable this can actually be, so at LiveText, we build this into our own Assessment Conference, leaving enough time between sessions and strategically scheduling breaks as well as formal social and networking events to provide just such opportunities.

Use social media and conference hashtags to share interesting information, photos, and observations on Twitter. Hashtags can also make it easier to find and share key quotes or ideas from session speakers. For this year’s Conference, you can find us at @LiveTextConf or using the hashtag #LiveTextConf2016 and #LTAC16. Our goal is to be able to re-Tweet and share the Conference experience with you. 

And finally, don’t jet out early. I know it’s tempting, and some days can seem long, but it’s some of the later-in-the-day or final day sessions are often most valuable. And when done, presenters usually linger around the session venue, which provides an excellent opportunity to have a one-on-one or small group discussion with the presenter or other attendees.  

While just a taste of some of the things you can do to make the most out of your conference experience, I do hope you found these tips helpful – especially to those attending our July Conference,