How to Take Notes at a Conference

Take a break from doing business but keep your tools handy to take copious notes at any conference/event you attend.It’s important to take notes when attending a conference, but with so many options these days what is the best tool to do so?

Life was simple years ago when a person just carried a pen and note pad to a conference for capturing notes. Now, there are many different devices conference attendees use for capturing notes. And the beauty of the devices is we can do much more than just take speaker notes.

Conference attendees are carrying everything today from iPads to iPhones, Blackberries and small laptops. It’s actually the power of the software that is so magnificent. We can take pictures, access speaker PowerPoint presentations and read the latest conference happenings via tweets. We can see convention hall layouts, speaker bios, and read what other attendees think about the speakers’ presentations.  I am fascinated when I think about all the capabilities we have today.

There is only one reservation I have about ‘event’ software. It happened to me last year when I was attending the American Society for Training and Development conference. It was the first time I decided to use the conference-event software to pull up the speakers’ slide presentations, handouts and to take notes. I had two days of notes and contact information when the software program crashed on me (and several other attendees). Much to my dismay, I lost all the great ideas I had captured for two days. Ugh!!! Fortunately, many of the sessions were recorded and I was able to watch the speakers again after I got back home.

So this year, I am taking notes with pen and paper but using the event software for the handouts and PowerPoint slides; to look at the program schedule (even though they provided a fat book for attendees). By the way, that reminds me of one thing I’ve noticed and that is many conferences do not provide a hard copy of handouts any more. If you want the handouts, you have to print them out ahead of time or access them online.

At the Office Dynamics Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence, we still provide a hard copy participant booklet. But it will be interesting to see if we continue the trend in 2014 and beyond.

What do you prefer as a conference attendee? Would you feel lost without a hard-copy conference booklet with handouts? What do you think about the paperless idea?

I would love to hear your thoughts about your preferred note-taking method at conferences.

Thank you

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