What to do with all the info you get at a conference.

May 13, 2014

I'm sure many of you have attended conferences relating to your work or your interests, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

For me, conferences are a refreshing chance to take a step back from daily work, mingle with others in my arena, learn from experts, and hopefully get a peek at some new and interesting ideas. I love soaking in the knowledge that industry veterans can share, but if you're like me, at the end of the day you may wonder what to do with the roughly 4 tons of buzzwords, tips and insights that you've been force-fed over the past 8 hours. #overwhelming

I started writing this post as a conference recap, but then I realized that I've been asking the same type of questions to coworkers, friends and other conference attendees. Do I need to write down everything that is said from stage? Should my work processes change overnight to reflect things I heard at the conference? Is it even worth losing a day (or more) of work to attend?

By and large, the answers I've heard have been encouraging, and similar in nature:

  • Have realistic expectations. Conferences are meant to be inspiring - have a good time! Don't worry so much about the takeaways. Give yourself a chance to remember why you love what you do. 
  • Take what you need. Not every presenter at a conference is going to be speaking directly to you or your interest. If possible, look for options to customize your track to be the most relevant to you. But if this session isn't exactly the right fit, enjoy it anyway: it's still likely you'll hear something interesting or insightful. Everybody has a story.
  • Give it time to sink in. Don't try to change the way you work overnight! Let the ideas you've heard digest for a few days. Then go back to review your notes, and let those highlights inspire conversations, prompt additional research, and create new ideas of your own.

What do you think? If you're still interested, I've got eight slide decks we can walk through.

Author
Ben Goshow

Lead Web Developer