By: Dani Watkins On: May 20, 2013 In: Blog Comments: 1

I presented at ASTD ICE in Dallas this week and decided to take full advantage of the conference registration too.

I quickly realized I was out of “conference attendee 101” practice. Conferences are all about how many technology, frameworks, strategies, steps, and principles we can file into our little minds. It is overwhelming. At the end of yesterday, my head was left with a raging headache and way too much stimulation for this introvert.

So, today, I had to regroup and approach it as the conference attendee veteran I knew I could be. I slept in a bit, identified the sessions I thought I could get the most bang for my buck, left sessions in the first 10 minutes if they didn’t grab me, and concentrated on note “making” rather than note “taking”.

How can you get the most out of a conference? Instead of being overwhelmed by the technology, frameworks, strategies, steps, principles, focus on note making. So, what is the difference between note taking and note making? Note taking is writing down what the speaker says. Note making is creating a list of how you apply what you are hearing or ideas that are sparked as you listen to the speaker.

Personally, I use Microsoft® OneNote to take notes on my iPad and I have one note where I list the ideas I have right when I hear the speaker say something. As soon as I have an idea sparked, I type into the note. Now, this will enable me to have a to-do list when I return from the conference.

Do others do something similar? What are your conference attendee veteran best practices?

Dani Watkins
Dani Watkins, Chief Learning Experience Officer
Zenith Performance Solutions
Dani Watkins is the Chief Learning Experience Officer and owner of Zenith Performance Solutions. She has designed and delivered instructor-led, eLearning, vILT, blended, and 3D Immersive training courses for business skill, proprietary, and technical content across many industries. She most recently was awarded the 2014 Bronze Brandon Hall Group Excellence Award for Best Custom Content. When she isn’t igniting learning experiences, you can find her hanging out with her family or running a Colorado trail.


  • calliejsummers
    July 30, 2013

    This is really good advice. I hope to be attending some conferences in the next year or so, and I will keep this in mind 🙂
    If you want, check out my Social Media blog


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