How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Education Conference

Jul 16, 2019 by

When you work in the education arena, it’s often a prerequisite for your role that you attend various personal development and learning events throughout the year. Conferences are a great option for this, as they allow you to educate yourself on a variety of topics and meet interesting new people all at once.

To maximize these events, though, you should take steps to get the most you can out of each conference.

Set Goals

Firstly, it’s wise to set yourself goals for the conferences you attend. Before the day of an event, think about what you hope to gain from your attendance. For example, perhaps you want to learn from talks or meet and build connections with particular people. Or maybe the idea behind attending is to obtain more personal development credits for the year.

No matter what you hope to achieve, by getting clear on this in advance, it will help you to make the most of your days. Everyone has different goals, and you might have different things you want to get out of each event, so don’t assume that it’s the same each time.

Manage Your Expectations and Mindset

It’s also important to manage your expectations. Conferences are typically huge days where it’s easy to get inspired, overwhelmed, and drained all in one. Your mood can affect how you find the event, plus each conference has its own personality and strengths and weaknesses.

As such, have realistic expectations about how you’ll find things on the day, and try to choose the options that compliment your goals and learning and social styles. Not every session will be your cup of tea, either, no matter how carefully you consider your choices. If you go in thinking that some things will be perfectly suited to you and some not so much, you won’t leave yourself open to so much disappointment.

Mindset is key, too. Even if you’re a total introvert who hates being in the position where you have to try to mingle with those you don’t know, or someone sensitive to loud noises, crowds, etc., picture yourself having a good time. Get into a positive frame of mind, watch your negative self-talk, and focus on what you like during the day.

Create a Plan

People who get a lot out of quality educational conferences are usually those who have created a plan of attack for the day before they set off. The more strategic planning you do in advance, the easier and more effective the day should be for you. Always read the conference program in advance, and download the mobile app where applicable to help you stay on track during the day. Look at maps of the venue, too, so you don’t waste time trying to find sessions.

Make a list of your all “must-see” talks and workshops and other events during the conference, and then note down other options that would be nice to attend if you can find the time, or if your preferred speakers are too hard to get into.

Also, you may want to plan out things such as the people you want to meet up with or meet for the first time, and breaks for food and some quiet time if you know you’ll get overwhelmed. Determine where some of the bathrooms are in the venue too, in case you need to find one in a hurry. You could also “divide and conquer” with your colleagues, and plan for each of you to attend different events and then share your notes and learnings afterward.

Network

Of course, networking is a key component of all educational conferences. While it’s nice to catch up with your friends at these events, particularly those you may not have seen for some time, try not to limit yourself to only chatting with these people. Instead, set yourself a goal of connecting with a certain number of new people in the industry.

If you find networking challenging, consider networking before the event. Look up the hashtag or group account for the conference on social media sites. From here, locate other people who are attending, and connect with them online. By doing this, you’ll have already started to forge some relationships which can be built on at the conference, and you’ll put less pressure on yourself on the actual day of the convention.

Attending conferences can be fun, inspirational, motivational, and educational. However, you also want to get the most “bang for your buck.” By following the simple tips above, though, you’ll make that happen more easily and with more comfort in the process.

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