5 ways to maximize your learning at conferences

I am currently attending WPPI in Las Vegas and I wanted to share 5 ways you can maximize your learning when attending a training, workshop or conference. Check out the tips below and make sure to download the template I use to keep myself organized when attending training’s.

Turn off your cellphone notifications

Cellphones are a necessary evil but you are in control. Whenever I am going into a talk or workshop I turn off notifications on my devices. I want to make sure I am giving the presenter my undivided attention and I don’t want to be pulled away from the content and the learning.

Don’t write everything down

I find myself falling into what I call “Novel Note Syndrome”. You do not have to write down each and every thought / topic from the training. If you do write every word or thought down you will find it will be hard to re-read your notes and review what you learned.

Try just putting shorthand notes and keywords that will trigger you to remember what the speaker talked about.

After each session write down your biggest takeaway

After each session I take a few minutes to write down what I felt is the one thing that I want to apply. This exercise is especially useful at large conferences where you have information overload. After the conference is done take all of your biggest takeaways and create a summary page to make it easier for you to jump back into your notes months or years down the road.

Introduce yourself to your neighbor

This is my favorite tip of all. I have met a lot of great people at conferences just by introducing myself. Growing your network is super easy when everyone in the room wants to learn the same thing as you. Make the first move and extend your hand and introduce yourself!

Vote with your feet

When I am at conferences I am very selfish. I am there to learn and grow myself. If you do not feel like you are growing then walk out. Chances are there is another session that you can take part in to learn even more!

Bonus Tip, bring a water bottle

Our bodies are made of mostly water and usually at conferences you can expect to pay upwards of 4 dollars just for a bottle of water. Beat the system and bring your own water bottle. A hydrated brain is a happy brain!

My favorite water bottle is one with a carbiner like this one or you can buy a carbiner that goes on any water bottle. Download my summary doc that you can use to stay organized and get the most out of your next training!

TJ Houston

TJ Houston is the Director of Technology at Shelby City Schools and New London Local Schools for Epiphany Management. TJ leads professional development in all areas of technology and loves developing ways to make teachers, students, and staff's lives easier with the use of technology. TJ also loves photography and his portfolio can be found at http://www.tjshots.com. All of the views on this site are his own.