Conference Conundrum? How to Walk Away Feeling Inspired Instead of Tired
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Conference Conundrum? How to Walk Away Feeling Inspired Instead of Tired

by Kristen Lee
Photos Anna Shackleford | September 07, 2015

AH, CONFERENCES: A SMORGASBORD OF PEOPLE GATHERED TOGETHER FOR THE CATERED LUNCHES AND FREE COMPANY SWAG. 

Kidding.

Conferences offer great opportunities for networking, learning about upcoming product launches or new research in your field, and professional development. Assuming the conference is well planned, you’ll hear from many incredible speakers...who will pull up just as many PowerPoint presentations. It’s like school all over again, but the semester is crammed into a few short days.

 You might think that you’re being efficient by responding to emails and listening to speakers throughout the conference, but in reality, you’re shortchanging your productivity.

Related: The Best Apps for Juggling Your Projects

If you’ve ever been to a conference, you know it gets tiring. There’s a lot of sitting, listening, and socializing. Then repeat. You’re likely to leave feeling overwhelmed by all the information, the names, the business cards in your pocket. You’re maybe even relieved. Thank God that’s over.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. What if you left the conference educated and motivated to act on your new insights and knowledge? Here are three tips to get the most from any conference you attend.

TUNING IN > MULTITASKING 

You might pride yourself on being an excellent multitasker, but let’s face it: your so-called “strength” doesn’t hold up to all the research that says the mind isn’t cut out for it {Click to Tweet}. You might think that you’re being efficient by responding to emails and listening to speakers throughout the conference, but in reality, you’re shortchanging your productivity. Like a good student, stay engaged. Put away your phone. Take notes and link concepts as you listen. You might hear ideas that excite or confuse you – turn these into questions to bring up during Q&As, during breaks with other attendees, or at the office after the conference.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF COFFEE BREAKS 

People tend to congregate where the food is. You might want to stay in your seat, especially if the break is only five minutes long, but don’t. Stand up, stretch, and go get something to drink. While you’re there, strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Your first instinct might be to talk about work or the conference, but instead, get to know the person. Coffee breaks are networking opportunities that are less stiff and contrived than the event’s organized social events. You may find the person you meet as inspiring as any of the speakers you hear.

By making broad connections from conference topics to your own life, you can more easily act on those inspirations. Don’t jot down ideas and then forget about them. Make them personal to you.

Related: 5 Conferences That Will Inspire You

FROM CONCRETE TO ABSTRACT 

Two weeks into a new job, I had to attend my company’s annual three-day national team meeting. As the new marketing assistant, it was important that I learn about the company’s products and previous initiatives. But as I wrote notes, I noticed a pattern: many speakers touched on rejections they faced in the field and their strategies to triumph in spite of hurt egos. What I heard could apply to anyone, in any context. By thinking big picture, I found new meaning in their advice. When you make broad connections from conference topics to your own life, you can more easily act on those inspirations. {Click to Tweet} Don’t jot down ideas and then forget about them. Make them personal to you.

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When it comes down to it, conferences are what you make of them. How do you make sure to get the most from them? Share with us in the comments.