overwhelm

How to Get the Most Out of Your Upcoming Administrative Conference

Next week I’ll be attending a large conference in Las Vegas to further my education. Today, my head is 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 first time I am attending this particular training industry event which is mostly focused on learning technologies. But it’s not that simple. It is a massive arena.

I wanted to plan which sessions I want to attend. Quite honestly, I feel more confused than ever. On the first day alone, there are 70 sessions to choose from. Yikes, I only have 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 want to attend, I have to click on each session title to learn about the session. Do you realize how time-consuming that is for me? So after almost 2 hours of reading and barely touching the surface, I am somewhat frustrated and my brain is saturated. I’m 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 we do not offer concurrent sessions or when we do host concurrent session, we offer only 3 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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’ve been mapping out my own upcoming conference experience, I am 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?

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2 thoughts on “How to Get the Most Out of Your Upcoming Administrative Conference”

  1. When I go to large conferences (I’m a writer/editor), I make a second choice which is held in the same area as the first, in case the first choice I made doesn’t work out, or wasn’t what I thought it would be. Then I can hop into the 2nd choice without having to walk all over creation.
    It will take you more time, but will be worth it, if it happens.
    When going through the course descriptions, I circle titles and put 1, 2, and even 3 next to the titles. I start about two weeks ahead of time. This can be done right before bed, in bed. Give yourself about a half-hour each night until you’re sure you’ve got it.

    Networking can take place at lunch or breaks. Exchange your business card, OR I make a vertical card that is about the size of a bookmark or a 3×5 or 4×6 card and put even more info on it than is on my business card. This could be a photo, a quote, a list of your books, feedback from customers–and an embellishment of some kind. In your case, a star sticker might be nice–or a colorful ribbon at the top in a punched hole–something that catches the eye that is outward and not embedded in the card info. (Everybody needs bookmarks, right?)

    Another idea for you is to carry some of your books with you and hand them out to a few lunch mates–with your book mark inside. Or give them a chance to win something by using a link on your card to sign up. People will remember you if you give them free stuff. Just sayin’ (*wink).

  2. Thank you for this blog! I am attending my first OD conference in Chicago in April! I will do as you suggested and have a “road map” for the 1 day conference. Excited to see what 2017 brings!!

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