I just attended the ATD International Conference and Expo in San Diego to further my education. My head was swarming after reading through what seemed like a never-ending website, each page loaded with tons of information. This is a training-industry conference and is one of the big ones. This is the second time I attended this particular training industry event which is mostly focused on learning technologies and leadership. But it’s not that simple. It is a massive arena.
I wanted to plan which sessions I was going to attend. Quite honestly, I felt more confused than ever. On the first day alone, there were 70 sessions to choose from. Yikes, I only had 7 hours at the conference including lunch, exhibit halls, and breaks. How am I supposed to choose? The second day of the conference offers 65 sessions. Really? How can any one person make a decision as to which sessions are the best?
And to top it off, to figure out which sessions I wanted to attend, I have to click on each session title to learn about the session. Do you realize how time-consuming that was for me? So after almost 2 hours of reading and barely touching the surface, I was somewhat frustrated and my brain was saturated. I’m was definitely on overload.
This experience got me thinking about our own administrative conference we hold each fall and the attendee experience.
I now understand why administrative and executive assistants have raved about the intimacy of the Office Dynamics Conference for Administrative Excellence. Aside from the less than 500 attendees, past attendees have told us they love that when we do offer concurrent sessions, we offer only a few at a time.
Whether you’re attending a large or small event this year to continue your administrative learning, take these three tips into consideration and make them part of your planning process.
4 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Upcoming Administrative Conference:
- Have a goal in mind for the learning event. Think about why you are attending this event. Are there specific learning objectives you wish to accomplish? New skills you want to acquire? New technologies you want to learn about and begin to implement?
- Take in the information bit-by-bit. If you’re attending a large event, you don’t need to attend everything that is being offered. It’s simply not possible. Allow yourself to soak in the offerings and choose what’s best for you and the goal you selected for yourself (tip 1).
- Use the tools offered to get to know attendees before, during and after the program. Follow the event hashtag, use it. Ask questions and introduce yourself to people who are also attending. Networking doesn’t only happen at the live event, it also happens before and after the event, so take advantage of that.
- Write your goal(s) for the event down on an “Action Log” for the event. During the event, begin to create your plan of action. What are the obstacles you will face when you return to the office, what are the steps you need to take and in what order? What are the resources you’ll need?
As I mapped out my own conference experience, I was reminded that more is not always better. Thousands of participants do not always make for great networking. In fact, it makes bonding and creating long-lasting relationships even more difficult. Hundreds of concurrent sessions are not always better. So many options often cause stress and frustration. Targeted topics around a key theme increase the chances of behavior change. These are just some of the things that make our administrative conference unique from other administrative conferences.
I’d like to hear from you. What are the methods you implement for a successful learning experience when attending any administrative conference or training workshop?