Stephen Downes has a great post on how to get the most out of a conference and it’s worth a read if you’re going to your first conference or your 1001st. It’s a wonderfully long and worthwhile read!

It’s a great breakdown of what to do before, during, and after the event. Some of it’s obvious (pick applicable conferences) and some of it is quite insightful. I found quite a lot of advice in his post that were new to me and I’m sure any conference veteran would enjoy reading this if even to get a different perspective on some issues. I still say, that if you can, don’t check baggage on a flight and try to take it all on with you.

One thing that every presenter should do – and this can’t be stressed enough – is to bring your presentation (in multiple formats for cross-platform love) on a flash drive; better yet do that AND put a copy online.

Here’s a snippet from one section of Downes’ advice:

Preparing for the Conference

A conference comes and goes in an instant. Even a long conference might only be four days long – most are only one or two days. You won’t have time to find your feet, even if you’re arriving early.

Research the conference. Who will be there? What will they be talking about? As much as possible, scan the program, look for people (especially keynotes) talking about things that are interesting to you, and look them up on Google. Do this before the conference! Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised by someone you weren’t expecting, but the experience is so much more rewarding if you know where they’re coming from.

You also want to be looking at the program to see which sessions you want to attend. You don’t have to decide right away (but if you do, create your own schedule and put it on your iPad or computer – it will be really hard to find this information at the conference itself, because they almost never post big signs with the conference program on it (they just assume everyone has their program).

Going to a conference? Then read how to get the most out of a conference now!