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3 Keys to Maximize Conference Attendance

Yes, it’s that time of year. Summer educational conferences are gearing up and attendees are laying out plans to soak in the conference atmosphere and return to work with new ideas and energy. But how do you best maximize the conference experience? Is time by the pool a mandatory item? What if I travel alone? What if I travel with a team? How do I ensure I’ve gotten everything from the event I could possibly want? Hey, it’s summer conference time…LET’S GO!!

Here are 3 key things to keep in mind to maximize your conference attendance:

  1. Engage your speakers and presenters in conversation: as a regular keynote or breakout session speaker, I am surprised by the number of people reluctant to approach the speaker with questions, feedback, or further information. Honestly, that’s why people are speaking in the first place. Yes, they want to share their information, but aside from a few people, they want to have conversations, build relationships and connections, and learn from their audience. I really enjoy when people stop me in the hotel, strike up conversations on the elevator, or ask me to join them for a drink or dinner to ‘talk shop’. If you are in a session and find the presenter super engaging…tell them. Got a question but you’re afraid you’ll look silly asking it? NO, ask the question – there are more people in the room thinking the same thing that you might realize. Speak up, introduce yourself, simply say hi…but engage your speakers and presenters. You never know what might come of that connection and relationship that ultimately benefits your school and your students.
  2. Debrief over dinner or a beverage: one of my very favorite conferences (Jostens Renaissance) encourages attendees to bring students as part of the experience. Every year, I would take a team of educators and between 10-20 students to this amazing, recharging event. Each night, we scheduled time before the pool and other fun events to simply debrief and share out learnings from the day. Each person was asked to share, and often it led to amazing ideas and school-changing work. If you aren’t with students, do this with your colleagues. No, you don’t have to talk about the conference exclusively, but you are there to learn. Take advantage of what others have picked up and share your ideas as well. Traveling alone, stop by the restaurant or the watering hole in the hotel and strike up conversation with other badge-toting folks. They want to visit about their discoveries just like you.
  3. Go to the pool: yes, you can tell your administrator I said it’s ok to go to the pool. Now, I’m not saying skip the conference to grab a swim. Rather, this is another location where you can take in learning, read a book from one of the speakers or presenters, or simply have some alone time to think, design, doodle, and plan for ways to use the new stuff you and your team have all been taking in. Just make sure to wear some sunglasses and put on that sunscreen.

Enjoy conference season, maybe I will see you at one of the many I will be at over the course of the next three months! Happy conferencing 😎

Have a #RoadToAwesome week


Tune in this week to “Leaning into Leadership” where my guest is Debbie Tannenbaum, elementary technology coach and author of the book, “Transform: Techy Notes to Make Learning Sticky”

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