For many people conferences offer a break from the office routine and a chance for a free lunch and a gossip, however I think they should be seen as much more than this.
As I was typing up my notes from the Institute of Fundraising conference last week (first round up to follow tomorrow), I thought about the things I do to try and get the most out of the presentations - networking in breaks/lunch is another subject all together.
Here are a few of my thoughts.
- Prepare in advance: look at the topics/speakers,
think how they relate to your job and what you want to learn from the
- Take a good pen and notebook and write down thoughts as you listen to the speaker. It is amazing some of the triggers that a good speaker can spark off and if you don’t jot notes down you can lose the thought.
- I like to turn my notepad landscape so I can 'mind
map' as I listen and for some reason I find writing on landscape paper makes it
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – take advantage of the opportunity to ask the speaker questions and learn from their experiences. If you don’t like asking in front of an audience then go up after the presentation and ask them directly.
- If a question comes up after the speaker has left
then drop them an e-mail. Every
person I’ve ever e-mailed after a conference has always got in touch and
been happy to help.
- Say thank you. If you’ve really enjoyed a presentation then send the presenter a note saying so. From experience, it will be greatly appreciated and can lead to further dialogue and insight.
- When you get to the office review your notes and
action any of your ideas. After
Friday’s conference I amended notes I’d been making on major donors,
passed on information on door to door fundraising, asked a question about
MOSAIC codes and e-mailed out training team with an idea about a session
for my team.
If you got any other tips for making the most of conferences then please let me know…