Conferences provide excellent opportunities to fulfill continuing education requirements, network with peers, and learn about innovative procedures, treatments, and devices. They can also be very overwhelming. You’ll likely leave with all sorts of new strategies and best practices to implement, but it can be challenging to hold on to those and put them to work once you get back to reality.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time at conferences and put your learnings into action afterward.
Leading up to the conference
In the weeks leading up to the conference, it is important to establish what you hope to learn while you’re there. Spend some time reviewing the agenda and mark all of the sessions the interest you, even those that overlap. From there, you can compare your goals and the sessions you’re interested in, to narrow down which you will actually attend.
During your planning, it is important to keep an eye on the number of sessions you plan to attend over a single day. If you try to attend too many, you run the risk of overloading yourself and retaining much less than you would otherwise.
While you’re there
Conference attendance is incredibly valuable, but it isn’t cheap. Be sure to maximize your attendance by focusing on the goals you set before attending and taking the opportunity to ask speakers questions. During sessions, take note of 2-3 action items you can implement upon your return in addition to any pertinent information you don’t want to forget.
Planning backup sessions is another great way to maximize your time at a conference. If one of the others you chose doesn’t turn out as expected, you can easily switch and still get something out of it.
Last, but not least, be sure to make the most of the networking opportunities available to you. There are almost always evening gatherings where you can further your learning by discussing the day’s events with colleagues and peers.
After the conference
Once you’ve had time to get back into your routine, it is important to set aside time to review the action items you noted during the conference.
In addition, it’s always a good idea to seek out information from the sessions you weren’t able to attend. Most conferences have a social media presence so you can easily find session recaps posted by the organizers or by your peers.
Once you’ve thoroughly reviewed everything, it’s time to put a plan in place for implementing the action items you decided on. Set a reasonable timeline for yourself and work through the items one or two at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself or your team.