Pick up your registration badge, check out the keynotes and sessions, wear comfy shoes… you probably have a sense of the basics you need for getting around the event. But how about the strategies that can help you get the MOST out of the conference?
In this post we asked our 2019 DevLearn Ambassadors and eLearning Guild Advisory Board about their surprising tips for getting the most information, value, and enjoyment out of the DevLearn experience.
Have your own suggestions to add? Be sure to include them in the comments!
Tracy Parish – DevLearn Ambassador
- Ensure you’ve planned out the sessions you intend to see and then have 2 or 3 alternatives for each session. That way if you get to a session and it’s not what you expected or doesn’t meet your needs you can quickly move to another option. Alternately, if you find after the first day of a conference that the type of sessions you want to focus on has changed, then you already have other picks ready.
Diane Elkins – DevLearn Ambassador
- At the Expo Hall reception, look for the doors where the servers come from the back with the trays of hors d’oeuvres. Camp out there to get first dibs.
Kelli Klee – DevLearn Ambassador
- Ask questions! Ask questions in the sessions, to vendors at the Expo, and presenters at DEMOFEST! If you have the question, someone else does as well. Who knows where the conversations will go and what great things you’ll learn, but you have to ask that first question to find out.
Jeff Batt – 2019 eLearning Guild Advisory Board
- I’m an introvert by nature. A lot of the times in the past I would have lunch on my own and not talk to anyone. The past couple years, though, I’ve purposely sat at a crowded table of people I didn’t know during lunch just so I could meet new people. Those conversations have ended up being some of the best highlights of the show. I get to chat with people who understand what I do, get tips/tricks for what they’re doing, and get to share some tips of my own.
Debbie Richards – DevLearn Ambassador
- Download the mobile DevLearn app to you phone and/or tablet! You can view a list of attendees and find your friends or people in the same industry. Connect with them and send them a message from the app so you have a head start on your networking and/or dinner plans!
- Don’t stand in the long line at the coffee shop on the way to the conference area, There’s a Starbucks in the Mirage! It’s located near the Carnegie Delicatessen by the South Entrance Walkway.
- Speakers are just like you! Don’t be afraid to approach them with questions after their session. Give them feedback if you think it’s important to share. Most will welcome the opportunity to share their experiences and hear about yours as well!
- Don’t spend all your time in sessions! Take some time to visit the Expo Hall – look at tools and technologies. Take time to meet others and network. And get outside for a daily dose of vitamin D!
Tim Slade – DevLearn Ambassador
- If you attend a session and quickly discover that it’s not what you expected, get up, leave, and find another session. It’s your conference and you paid money to be there.
- Attend DemoFest! It’s a great opportunity to see the other work folks are doing and to get ideas for your own projects. Also, don’t forget to vote!
Megan Torrance – 2019 eLearning Guild Advisory Board
- By all means check out the sessions by the well-known speakers, but also stop in on some people you’ve not yet heard of – particularly ones with case studies to share. Many of the well-known speakers have lots of information available out on the web or are otherwise available easily for follow-ups, whereas people in organizations have regular jobs outside of this to keep up with.
- Plan to take good notes to bring back to your team. A successful format is one page/slide per session, with a key image and the 3-8 bullet point takeaways for your organization. Then your team can follow up with you for more information on the topics they’re more interested in.
Nick Floro – DevLearn Ambassador
- Be sure to introduce yourself to people and see if you can spread out and swap notes or brief each other later to discuss what you learned and share resources. I’ve found this to be invaluable for post-event sharing with my teams.
- Remember to take a break, walk around, look up, and observe everything around you. There is so much to see in Vegas from shows, to food, to entertainment choices.
- Be sure to get enough sleep. There are back-to-back sessions during the day and if you want to take advantage of all the learning, good sleep will be a key to you making the most of the week.
- When you see something you want to capture, use your phone or device to grab a still (and share it as well).
Meg Bertapelle – DevLearn Ambassador
- Try to take good notes that you’ll be able to decipher a week or more later. I always have the best intentions of cleaning up my notes each night but get sucked into having fun and then I’m too tired – EVERY TIME! If you take good enough notes, you’ll be able to remember what you learned and share it when you get back to work.
- I don’t know if this is surprising advice, but connect with people – presenters and attendees alike. Truly, I have made some amazing, close friends who I talk to regularly and we’re able to support each other as colleagues from afar when we need help with a challenge.
Karl Kapp – DevLearn Ambassador
- Look for larger trends by scanning the app for similar presentation topics, looking at the types of vendors attending, and listening to the in-hall conversations.
Mike Taylor – DevLearn Ambassador
- Take advantage of opportunities to meet and hang out with new friends. Check the app and other resources for groups organizing dinners, etc. Or take the initiative to organize something on your own. The people are best thing about DevLearn and these group activities have always been my favorite.
- Make time when you get back home to connect with speakers you liked. Follow them on Twitter. Subscribe to their blog. Signup for their newsletter. Keep the learning going. Don’t wait until the next conference.
And one final thought from Tracy Parish about the kinds of connections you can make at DevLearn and the power of simply saying hello.
Now if I think more long-term about how you can get the most out of the event (even after you leave), the easy answer is to simply say hello.
Take the time to meet your fellow attendees at these conference events… while you get your morning coffee, while waiting for a session to start, at lunch, in the Expo Hall… wherever. I guarantee you there are hundreds of others at an event like DevLearn who are there on their own or are there for the first time. And many of them are looking for someone to talk to about the cool session they attended or something else related to the conference.
Here’s your chance to network with others in our industry. To chat with people that ‘get you’ and speak your language. Think about how many times you’ve tried to explain to a family member about your job or complained to a friend that an SME just gave you 150 slides to turn into a ten-minute course and had them have no idea what you’re talking about? Well, at DevLearn you’ll have countless people respond to you with looks of sympathy rather than confusion!
So take the time to say hello and ask someone else how they’re finding the event. What sessions did they like the best? What did they think of the keynotes? Did they see anything surprising in the Expo Hall? Who’s giving away the best swag? What’s the first thing they plan to do differently when they get back to work? You’ll enjoy the answers you get.