By Brittany Llorente
Media Marketing Associate
When going to a conference, one of the main reasons for attending is likely to attend a session. Not only are sessions a great learning opportunity, but they are also a great way to provide a true return on investment. Due to the value they bring attendees, sessions require a lot of planning and organization for the event planners. Their goal is to bring you, the attendee, the best learning experience they can garner from attending the event. You dropped a pretty penny to be there, so be sure to get the most out of your sessions. Here is a quick list how.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you spend a few minutes the day (or week) before, looking through the session guide. This will lay out what sessions are happening at what time and where (this can be equally important if the conference is held in more than one venue). Highlight the sessions that you plan on attending while leaving yourself plenty of time to eat, have a break, and visit the exhibitors. Try not to back yourself up against another session. Sessions sometimes run over, and just the run to the next session can be a hassle, causing you to arrive late. Instead, plan ahead and see if the same session is held at an alternate time. Some events even offer electronic scheduling tools you can use, which make this planning process even easier.
Walking into a class like setting might make you feel like you’re heading back to school, but that is exactly what these sessions are: learning experiences. Instead of trying to remember everything that you heard during a session, be sure to take notes. Whether you’re old school, like me, and would rather have a paper and pencil, or you like to take electronic notes on your laptop or tablet, either is fine. Also, many conferences offer the slides as a downloadable document on their site. If that is not available, ask the presenter or conference if it can be emailed to you.
The people who are presenting are there because they are noted experts in their field or their company. There have been sessions I have attended, some led by Greenshades, and others, where at the end of the presentation, the presenter asks if anyone has any questions. Usually, about a minute goes by where everyone is looking at one another, unsure if they should ask their question. Then, one brave soul raises their hand and asks a question. This cycle continues until the session is over. Never be afraid to ask a question. Chances are, there is someone else in the room who has the same question. At the same time, you might ask a question that no one thought to ask. Ask questions. You are there in that room because you wanted to learn something. If you don’t ask while you’re there, you might have missed your chance.
So, the next time you’re at a conference and you’re handed the session guide, we hope you keep in mind our quick and simple tips. Sessions can be a great learning experience if you’re more active than passive as the audience member.