Next week I am traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina to speak as a keynote at the Creative at Heart Conference! It is one of my all-time favorite conferences and I have attended one conference as a new business owner, photographed three and spoken at two – I can’t get enough of C@H!!! I have blogged over and over again about the value of education in my business from day one. I have attended countless conferences, workshops and educational events to grow my business and learn from the best – and I truly believe it is one of the most valuable things I ever did for my business!
Now that I am on the OTHER end of conferences as a speaker (which is still crazy to me sometimes!), I want to share with you what I’ve learned about how to get the MOST out of your conference experience. When attending an educational event, we invest our valuable time and money to learn and GROW through these experiences. It is so important to do everything you can to ensure that you take advantage of these opportunities and get the BEST possible experience!
Here are my five tips to be a ROCKSTAR conference attendee:
This is something I wish I was told sooner!!! Conferences can drain your energy quickly – especially if you are an extroverted introvert (like me!) I used to go into conferences expecting it to be relaxing since I was sitting most of the day…but the truth is that you have to be mentally present and constantly processing new information you’re learning! It can be exhausting in the BEST way, so be sure to rest up, drink lots of water and bring energizing snacks to keep you on your toes!
2. You may be provided a notebook and pen…but it’s okay to bring your own, too!
Maybe it’s just me, but I LOVE to have pretty notes that I can look back on later. Instead of just using the notebook I’m provided, I like to bring along my own (that typically has notes from past conferences, too) and my favorite pen to make note-taking fun! This way, if a conference is over a long period of time, I never get tired of taking notes!
3. Listen to what speakers are SAYING, not what is in their presentation.
When you are hearing from speakers in a conference setting, they are typically sharing a powerpoint presentation along with the speaking presentation. One of the most important things I have learned is to write what the speakers are SAYING, not what they are READING. Typically, you can get access to their powerpoint slides after the presentation, but you can’t ever get back the words they said! Focus on their SPEAKING instead of their SLIDES!
4. Write bullet points now and BRAIN DUMP later!
Someone is going to read that and laugh out loud – haha!! BUT, this is such a helpful tip!! Instead of trying to write EVERYTHING you are hearing, write short and sweet bullet points. Then, at the end of the conference day, go back to your hotel room and BRAIN DUMP – re-read through your notes and write out everything you learned and want to remember in detail. This way, you can keep up with the pace the speaker is sharing, you remember the information more and you have valuable notes to look back on later! I typically take my “bullet point” notes in the notebook provided by the conference or workshop, and then I “brain dump” in my own notebook!
5. Plan your outfits AHEAD of time!
I think that selecting outfits is the BIGGEST source of stress before a conference or event. I always spend a few hours before I leave town to select all of my outfits for the conference, all the way down to the accessories, and I bring 1-2 extra outfits just in case. Comfort is always priority, and I always recommend bringing LAYERS because temperature can be hard to moderate in large conference rooms.
BONUS: Make a point to meet NEW people each day.
This one can be hard and intimidating in environments with HUNDREDS of people…but hear me out!!! When you attend a creative conference or event, it can be easy to bring or meet ONE friend and stick with them the entire time. But, then you go home and you don’t have any NEW connections or networking from this experience you invested so much in! Instead, at meal time and at social events, make a point to SPLIT from your friends and your comfort zone. Go talk to new friends, approach that speaker you’ve always wanted to meet, follow each other on social media and build RELATIONSHIPS. Then, stay in touch with them even after the conference ends! These connections and friendships will far outlast the event itself and are arguably the MOST valuable part of it all.
Who will I see at C@H next week!? Comment below!!! I can’t WAIT to hug you in person!!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also love: