Maximizing Your Conference Time

Here are the top strategies I use for getting the most out of every conference—in-person or virtual—I attend.

Will you be attending Training magazine’s TechLearn 2021 Virtual Conference ( October 25-29? I hope to “see” you there! Here are the top strategies I use for getting the most out of every conference—in-person or virtual—I attend.

  • Be prepared. For virtual conferences, log in early for each session. Make sure your Webcam and microphone work. For all conferences, download any handouts prior to the session. Think about questions you want answered from the session.
  • Create and build an action plan. In each session, jot down ideas you want to act on and create a master list, so you have a jump-start after the event.
  • Have proxies or swap teams attend sessions. Obviously, any conference has more sessions available than any one person can attend. If you are attending along with several people from your organization, decide in advance how you’ll split up the sessions. If you are not attending with others from your organization, develop an informal team by hooking up with two, three, or four other people attending the conference and see if they can cover sessions for you and vice versa. Have nightly Zoom recaps with that team and/or daily debriefs to talk about what you learned. Provide team members with copies of the handouts you gathered while at the conference once you are back on the job.
  • Get involved! Make every session an interactive session.
  • Ask questions. If you’re in a session that does not seem particularly interactive, create involvement by asking appropriate questions.
  • Call your boss. Check in while the conference is in progress to let the boss know the value you’re gaining. Also, set up post-conference debriefing time with your boss and others who would benefit from such a debriefing.
  • Share with stakeholders. Think of others in your organization for whom a certain handout, brochure, or other documentation might be useful—even if the material does not offer something of immediate use to you. Pick up a copy and immediately stick a note on it to indicate who it’s for so you don’t have to sort through a mess of material after the conference. This will help you transfer information from your plate to others’ quickly.

These are all strategies I recommend to my own clients. Use them when you attend TechLearn 2021, and let me know how they work for you.

Until next issue, add value and make a difference!