No handouts will be provided this year–take a deep breathe, and count to ten. You may be saying to yourself, “This is crazy!” Trust us, it’s not. We’ve found that speaker handouts have NOT been effective in the past. They can be distracting during the session and don’t truly increase the value of the event for attendees. Quite frankly, most handouts end up in the trashcan before we’ve even left the venue! We want every attendee to get the most out of their experience at the Annual Meeting and offer several tips below for doing just that. We’ve also asked speakers to allow the Idaho Academy to share their contact information (phone number/email address) with attendees following the conference so you can reach out to them directly if you so desire.
TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE 2019 ANNUAL MEETING
1. Identify your personal purpose for attending the Annual Meeting.
Identify beforehand what you’d like to get out of the conference as a whole. Then keep that purpose in mind throughout the conference – that will help you filter out those ideas that don’t matter so that you can focus on the ones that do.
2. Thoroughly review the event agenda and attend sessions of your choice with preset questions.
Show up to the conference prepared and on a mission to get answers to your questions. We view speakers presenting at the Annual Meeting as field experts, so don’t be afraid to ask them questions! If you don’t get the chance to ask your question during the session, don’t be afraid to stick around afterwards and ask the speaker one-on-one. They are there for you, and are willing to help you find the answers you need.
3. Follow a note-taking method that works for you.
There are a lot of different methods out there. Take some time to figure out what will work best for you. Determine the format you’re going to use: pen and paper, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.; be sure to bring everything you’re going to need. If you aren’t sure where to start, do an internet search to learn more about “Mind Mapping” or “Cornell Note Taking”.
4. Remember what you learn.
With days full of speakers and sessions, there’s a lot to take in—and you’re probably not going to remember all of it when you get home. Regardless of your note-taking format of choice, at the end of each session you attend, write down the three key takeaways and any follow-up you want to do on the topic or with the speakers. Please plan on attending the Closing Keynote for specific insight into turning ideas into action. Review the session description.
5. Focus on meeting new people!
Yes, the focus of attending conferences is on learning, but remember it’s also (and maybe even more importantly) about meeting people! This years Annual Meeting is providing more opportunities for networking than ever before. Be sure to take advantage of this and broaden your professional network. Step one is participating in the planned activities, even if it’s forcing you to step out of your comfort zone! You’ll meet a lot of people if you play along.
6. Follow up with new contacts after the conference is over.
Within a week of returning from the event, send a personal follow-up to everyone you met to let them know you enjoyed meeting them. Also set up a phone call or face-to-face meeting with anyone you specifically want to do business or build a relationship with. We found a great suggestion online to keep notes, either on business cards you’ve collected, or in a notepad, about the conversations you have with each person. Write one or two things about the conversation.
Complimented her on (something cool)
Send (blog post, video, intro to someone)
Had (hometown city, sports team, favorite animal, etc.) in common
When you follow up, reference the note to help jog the persons memory to who you are and the value you can provide to them. These follow ups should always be personal.