The Geek’s Guide to Conference Going
I’m in beautiful Chicago this week hanging out with a bunch of amazingly creative people at the Story Conference. While I’m not usually described as a “creative-type”, I love being around the energy of creative people. I love how they process and view life. I love how they dream big ideas that would never occur to me.
I’m kind of a geek about attending conferences and learning new things. I purposefully chose to attend Story this year because I needed a new learning environment. I wanted to hear from different voices and engage different experiences.
And since we’re in the thick of the fall conference season, I thought I would share with you three things I do to make the most of my conference experience:
1) Plan ahead
I try to learn as much as I can about the conference, the speakers, the city, etc before I get there so that I can jump right in. I follow the twitter hash tag. I review any materials I’ve received ahead of time. I get myself comfortable with what to expect. By planning ahead I can define the things that will help me accomplish the second thing I do to make the most of my experience:
2) Take in everything
I plan to take in everything I can. I attend as many sessions as possible. I try to connect with people during breaks and lunches. I walk through the vendor booths. I sort through the swag bag. You never know what you might catch that is perfectly timed for you and/or your team. And that’s another good point, be on the lookout for not only what is beneficial to you, but what might be a help or resource to someone else on your team. Share the love!
3) Study what’s under the surface
The biggest thing that I take away from conferences is not actually the content of the speakers. It’s not even always the relationships. The biggest thing that I take away is what I’m observing beneath the surface.
I very studiously take notes in most sessions, but my notes are actually divided into three columns:
1) quotes from the speaker
2) ideas that I’m generating from what the speaker is saying
3) observations about the communicators style and delivery
I have done #1 & #2 for years, but #3 is my latest addition. As a developing communicator, I’m trying to learn everything I can from different speakers’ communication style, mannerisms, connectivity, etc.
I view conferences as a gift and a luxury; an opportunity to be invested in and to learn from… and so I feel compelled to do everything I can to make the most of the experience.
How about you?
What conferences are you headed to this fall?
What is one thing you do to make the most of the experience?