I go to lots of conferences. Twenty-two in the last three years. (Seven a year is a lot, isn’t it? Or do I just think it is?)
Scott Belsky has 5 Tips for Making the Most of a Conference.
The one I most relate to is the first one.
I just went through my notes from the past two years of TED conferences, and I realized that I had never even re-read my notations from the 2009 event. Little observations and quotes that I particularly enjoyed were still scribbled amidst many pages of notes.
Belsky offers a way to mine these notes for their gems, even as they are being created.
[T]he Action Steps that I had come up with during the conference had fortunately been captured separately and addressed after the conference. During the conference, I had recorded these Action Steps with a star next to each – making it easier to decipher them from the other notations. There were people I planned to follow up with and a few ideas for improving one of our products.
The first thing I do after every conference is review the notes and transfer every starred item into my task management tool. Some people I know use a different color for the actionable stuff. Whatever your system, recognize that conferences are liable to overwhelm you with notations. You must enter and leave with a bias-towards-action to capture the gems for post-conference execution.