Mastering Your Creative In-person Conference Experience | Jeremiah Baumann | Skillshare

Mastering Your Creative In-person Conference Experience

Jeremiah Baumann, The Creative Technologist

Mastering Your Creative In-person Conference Experience

Jeremiah Baumann, The Creative Technologist

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14 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Your Instructor

    • 3. Your Assignment

    • 4. Back Channel Prep

    • 5. Location Research

    • 6. Transportation

    • 7. Packing

    • 8. Note Taking

    • 9. Scheduling

    • 10. Get Uncomfortable

    • 11. Visit The Expo

    • 12. Meet Your Instructors

    • 13. Business Card Exchange

    • 14. Course Wrap Up

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About This Class

Learn how to get the most out of your creative conference experience. As someone who has attended, presented and worked at many creative conferences (like AdobeMAX, HOWDesign, and more), I've put together a shortlist of ways you can take full advantage of your in-person conference experience. Learn 10 ways to prepare and maximize your time with other creatives. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Jeremiah Baumann

The Creative Technologist


Hello, I'm The Creative Technologist - Jeremiah Baumann. I'm an experienced university instructor teaching business and digital media courses and also an experienced director of marketing and communications.  I'm here to share with you some great business advice, technology training (ranging from Adobe, Apple, and gadgets), marketing and communications, podcasting, photography and more. 

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1. Introduction: thanks for taking mastering the conference experience in this course, I hope to help make you more confident and more comfortable so that you can get the most out of your conference. What does that mean? 10 big tips to help you prepare and how to take advantage of those opportunities when you're traveling and in those conference learning environments. So maybe it's tips on how to pack tips on how to prepare and ultimately ways so that you can operate more safely and more. Confident Li at the conference. These 10 tips will take you through and they'll be more to come in the future, so let's get started. 2. Your Instructor: I wanted to give you a little bit of background about who I am so that you understand where I'm coming from in this course. So I've been lucky enough to travel all over the country, being able to be a member of different conferences, work at conferences as a volunteer on different committees and also present at a lot of different conferences across the country. So in my time, I've experienced some amazing conferences, and I've experienced some absolutely terrible things at conferences and mistakes I made in prepping for them. Ultimately, I want to take all that experience and knowledge and share with you in this course why and how to avoid some of the mistakes that I've made in the past. I think that my experience comes across as an easy way for you to learn on what not to do and also some of the things in tips that I figured out that might make your experience that much better. So hopefully you understand a little bit about my background where I'm coming from and can relate as we work on mastering the conference experience together 3. Your Assignment: four year assignment. I want you to share with the class any experiences you've had at or preparing for a conference. If you haven't attended a conference yet. No worries. I still want to know what Maybe anxieties. You have questions concerns that your kind of thinking about as you prepare for your first conference. I want us to have an open dialogue and really address some of these things now so that you could basically get through them and have the best conference experience possible if you select and choose to kind of open up when I'm looking for also is content for Part two. I want to take some of your concerns and address them directly in a second part to this course that I'll make here in the near future. So open up. Let's have a dialogue and tell me about some of the concerns some of the things you're unsure about still, and hopefully I can address those in one way or another as we move forward together in mastering your conference experience 4. Back Channel Prep: the first step to really getting the most editor. Conference experience starts months ahead of time before your conference. Honestly, this starts off pretty much when you register or know that you're going to be attending the conference. Now you probably a little bit confused as how that starts so early. But what I have found in attending all these conferences throughout the year is you need to do your homework. So what does that mean exactly? Back channel preparations? If you're familiar with social media, this is talking about the back channel discussions that are happening behind the scenes, so to speak. Ah, lot of discussions happen online before we even get to conference time, presenters might finally find out that they're actually going to be presenting, and you'll start to see them marketing that they're going to be there. What does this mean for you? Instagram Twitter, Facebook. You can start connecting with these people very early on. It's also nice just to have a good idea of who your keynote speakers are going to be. You could do a little bit of background. Maybe they've written some books. They've got some videos out there. You want to check into those things so you fully understand and can take advantage of being with those people during the conference. Some other things to look for are also some social media groups that might exist out there . I know one in particular is how designed and for how designs conference. They have a Facebook group where people figure out plans. They look at things to do in the town wherever the conference is being held. And they also work really well for those loners that air people traveling or going to the conference by themselves. Ultimately, you're going to have more fun if you're with other people. So using these back channels, you can already find people to eat dinner with or different meals, places to go, things to do and have small groups that figure out different task they want to accomplish. Obviously, you're traveling to, you know, probably a relatively big city. Maybe it's unknown to you, and that could be kind of scary. So using these back channels and and talking through social media, you might be able to get a group together to go do one of the fun things in that city, and you can do it safely by having that group, so you need to start looking into those things to see what's available. Is there anything out there in particular? And ultimately, if there's not, I got a secret for you. You can actually start something. You could start a Facebook group or you could start a hashtag and start establishing those connections now, because I can promise you one thing. You're going to feel much more confident, comfortable. You're going to be a lot more confident, and you're going to enjoy the conversations that you have ahead of time, which will build that excitement up. So when you're at the conference, you're not really worried about adjusting or kind of being nervous about being in a new area. You've got all those feelings taking care of, and you're ready to just hit the town, start having a good time and really exploring everything that the conference has to give you. So look into those social channels, look and see if the conference has any hashtags they use in the previous year and also look and see if the conference posted anything from the period previous year you might be able to look and understand the format, understand what the expectations are and a good conference will have that thing posted on their website or registration page. You know, the ones that are more known or well known have that understanding that if you're brand new to the conference, you might not feel comfortable, and they want to make you comfortable as soon as possible. So look into these back channel opportunities. Make new friends have those conversations because it's going to prepare you again months in advance for when you actually are traveling and start to explore the conference in full. 5. Location Research: the second step is researching your location. Now, this seems pretty obvious, right? You need to know where you're flying to, where your hotel is, where the convention center is or what hotels presenting the conference. But have you really looked into it? Where I like to start is actually taking a look at where I'm going to be walking. So pulling up Google maps and using the walk around tool to physically view what my walks gonna be like. I like to make sure I understand just how far and where I have to go between my hotel and the convention center. Or maybe you're lucky in the hotel you're staying at is where the conferences. But what about walking for food, for meals? What about walking to special events that might be off site? I like to be fully comfortable and understand my surroundings. So I do a lot of research ahead of time. Maybe you'll get lucky. And you've been to this location before. I've been to l. A for so many different conventions and different conferences that I know the convention center. I know the hotels. I know the restaurants and I could walk around really easily. But for someone who's never been to L. A and maybe is from a small town, this is going to be extremely overwhelming, and that's going to cause a lot of anxiety. And those types of people then generally hang out in their hotel room and don't get to take advantage of traveling for the conference. So use Google maps. Figure out what it's gonna look like kind of create your own map in your head. So you have these vantage points. You know, different local landmarks that you can use so that you won't get lost. We all have cell phones with GPS, so that's another great tool to use as well. But just realize you want to do some research. Also, look at the specifics of your hotel. What amenities do they have? Do they have a refrigerator in your room? This is something you're probably gonna have to call about. But if you're trying to save money, I highly advise you to do so. I've been in many rooms where I was hoping there was a refrigerator and there wasn't which means any sort of meals that I would order or I'd go pick up or I go to a restaurant. Leftovers. Just one option. So look into those things. Figure out what you have to deal with. Also, look for a convention center or a hotel map. What this is is gonna help you figure out the locations of rooms when it comes to scheduling, which we'll talk about a little bit later. But ultimately, you might be a part of a conference and they don't provide you with any maps or they provide you with maps that just aren't very good. If you're dealing with a large conference center or a large convention center, I'm gonna tell you a secret. There are amazing maps that are out there that probably were done by a different vendor or different conference experience. One of the things I do is I look to see what maps air provided by the conference. If the conference really doesn't supply any, start looking for comic con maps. Yep, Comic con does an amazing job providing maps of different convention centers, and you can generally find those online. They will show you where rooms are. They will give you a better idea of the flow of people where your exits are and probably were. Some shortcuts are because of the amount of people they deal with. So if the maps provided to you just aren't that great, don't worry about it. You can find something else that's out there to help you plan your adventure. 6. Transportation: the third thing to think about his transportation. How are you going to get from the airport to your hotel, from your hotel to the convention center or conference space and how you're going to travel around the local area? Most people, the thing to think about is right, uber or lift. If you have used those at before, you're going to feel pretty confident and comfortable. But what about how do you pick up in uber lift at the airport? Many airports have different rules, and you're not actually able to pick up those rides where you would pick up a taxi or a shuttle. So understanding where you need to go ahead of time is really going to save you. The headache of trying to rush around when you're at the airport. Remember, a lot of people are traveling for this conference, this convention, and they're going to be, ah, large demand for these rides. So try and figure out ahead of time where you need to go. And another tip. If you are using kind of a ride share program, call your ride once you have your luggage. Luggage is always an interesting task. Sometimes it comes down right away. Sometimes it's lost. Been there. But make sure you have your luggage in hand before you hail a ride. Most airports have limitations on how long a ride can stay put before they have to move on . So understanding what that means is gonna be life changing for you. Another thing to think about is, are there cheaper options? Sometimes when you're traveling, there are cheaper options like Super Shuttle, where you can get on a shared van and they will get you to the airport or from the airport . Whatever you need. If you're trying to stay on budget, these air definitely a way to save some money. Now realize you're going to be sharing the van with other people at different stops, so you have to build in that buffer when you're looking at times for pick up or drop off. However, there are a great program to save some money when you're traveling around during the conference again, most people jump on uber lift on those rideshare programs. It's also nice to talk with people in those groups that we mentioned before those back channels and find out maybe if you could split a ride with somebody. Do you happen to be on the same flight? Are you getting into the airport at the same time or heading back at the same time? You could split the costs and save some money there. Ultimately, these are the things you want to think about ahead of time. You want to download the apse, make sure you have a credit card that works with the system that isn't expired or some other complication because you don't need that stress, especially when you're trying to get back to the airport. So take the time now, figure out what your options are and plan ahead. 7. Packing: when it comes to packing, you might have to get really creative as we keep seeing luggage costs go up and travelling , becoming more complicated, especially if you're someone who's had luggage that's been lost multiple times like me, you're gonna want to really figure out what is the best way to pack the items you need. Some of the conferences I go to our quick three day conference is, Ah, quick backpack change of underwear and some computer electron ICS, and I'm good to go. Other conferences. I have to be in a suit every single day, so that requires a lot more packing and a lot more creativity on how to pack. The biggest advice I have for you now is realized that act conferences you'll have the Expo hall, or you'll have vendors that are giving out free things or you'll have contests and prizes. What that means is, do not pack your bags to the max weight limit completely stuffed. When you're leaving your house, make sure you have room to bring things back. Always leave yourself a little bit of extra room because it's going to save you the complication and the expense of having to ship things. There's usually a UPS or FedEx store something at conference Centres. But, man, let me tell you the fees that they tack on the sending out packages is unbelievable. I send a box once to a conference cost me $12. I used it for a part of a committee I was on and I have leftovers. I needed to ship those back to my office. That seemed $12 package cost me almost $60 to ship from one of those locations. So you want to make sure you're not having toe last minute ship anything roll your closed to save some space, Think about what should be carry on and what's not. So if you they lose your bag, you're still good to go. You always want to make sure you have something on you for those situations. Now, some of you might never have any travel problems, and that's great for me. It's extremely rare that my flights are on time. Flights aren't canceled. I have to jump in a car. My luggage is lost. I've seen it all. So for someone like me, you want to be extra careful and think through the full process. As you piece together all your luggage and figure out what you're taking with you to a conference, you'll always see that they post saying conference rooms can be very cold. Bring a sweater. Make sure you have comfortable shoes and you have clothing. You can adapt some conference centres. You're right, they have been super cold, and I've had to deal with that. Other times they've been amazing and hot, and I've been sweating and I didn't have clothes to change into. So take these all into consideration now and save yourself the headache as you're packing for your conference. 8. Note Taking: The next thing to think about is how are you gonna take notes and how are you going to share those ideas now, if you're being sent to a conference for work, generally they expect you to come back and kind of give a debrief. Maybe your training somebody on a new technique and you have to share that information. So what's gonna be the easiest way for you to do this now? Some people are very much penned a paper. They like to take a notebook like a mole skin, and they like to have a pen with, um and draw doodles and do all that kind of kind of drawing out their notes. And there's nothing wrong with that. Other people like to use a tablet, and they like to draw digitally their notes and store them that way. I've seen people with laptops that type out their notes. There's people that take screenshots of different slides of different presenters. There's a lot of different ways this can happen now. The things to figure out to save you the headache are do they present us slides after the conference or even before, check the website, contact the conference and find out if presenters air sharing that information with you, you can ease back in your note taking and focus on what the presenter has to say. Most good presenters will give you some sort of notes and follow up so that you can engage with them in the presentation instead of just trying to copy down everything you see on the slides. This also will change depending on how you need to share out your information. If you're like me, I like to tweet during presentations. I like to have those back channel discussions as I'm sitting in events. Now, if I'm trying to tweet and take notes and take screen captures, that's gonna basically stress out anybody. So you have to understand what your priorities are. This is where looking ahead of time at presenters and maybe contacting them on social media or just connecting with their website will give you an insight as to what to expect. I'm somebody that likes to take notes digitally. I've right on my tablet and I store those. I do have the ability than to take pictures and attach those to my notes as well what I like on top of it all. If they're already digital, I can share them out with colleagues or type them up later. If you're someone that likes to put pen to paper, make sure you have a pen that's gonna work for you that's gonna be comfortable. And the paper that you want, yes, most conferences will give you some sort of pad and you'll probably find tons of free pens . But you want to be comfortable because you're going to be writing a lot. I've done it a lot of different ways, and I found what works for me. But ultimately you need to explore ahead of time what works for you. How can you quickly get the information down, process that information and be able to share it If you choose to along the way, this will save you the frustration and the overwhelming feeling that you're missing anything. So figure out this style ahead of time, maybe practice in a work meeting or practice, watching ah live event online and taking notes to figure out what's gonna be the most comfortable for you. And then you'll know what to pack and what to take with. Electricity is always one of those prized commodities Owlets are very hard to find. So if you're taking all your notes on your laptop, make sure you have plenty of time in between sessions to recharge. If you're using a tablet or a phone, take a portable battery or buy one. If you don't have one, you're gonna thank me for that later, I promise. 9. Scheduling: When looking at your schedule for the conference, you're gonna have a few different options. Some conferences require you to register ahead of time and select the courses, the presentations, whatever you want to call them and get that into a schedule. Adobe Max is one where you have to schedule it and get it to your name. Otherwise you cannot attend. Now, with Adobe Max there, maybe 12,000 individuals trying to schedule. So understand what is out there, what courses you might be looking for. And make sure you stay on top of those sessions. Keeping track of when registration opens is key. You do not want to miss out because that might miss out on the opportunity to get into those sessions that you really are excited for for a lot of other conferences, its open door policy. So you can add it to the app if they have one, or you could just schedule it yourself. I like to put everything on a calendar, So I have a Google calendar I use just for that conference in that particular conference, and I put my sessions on their the locations and I try and plan everything out As you can tell by now, I've done this for a while, and I have understood that sometimes running across the convention center because you mis read a number or the app didn't sink the way you thought it would, you can save yourself time by doing your own schedule. It's also nice to realize that sometimes you're going to need to adapt. Maybe there's two sessions you really want to attend, and you can't choose between the two. The way I like to break those down is look at the presenter, see if they post their content online or after the event, because then if you miss out on the actual session, at least you can get the notes and kind of try and piece it together. As best you can look and see what your options are. They might actually be presenting the same content multiple times throughout the conference , and you could just check another time slot. You want to make sure you keep your schedule together and you want to be on top of this. Presenters come and go Travel arrangements, problems. So whether you're connecting through a website or through an app or registration book, understand unit might need some backups, and you might have to make some adjustments. But figuring this all out ahead of time, then allows you to look back at those maps and take a look at where these rooms are. Sometimes it's just not gonna be possible to get from one session to another, because you have to travel multiple buildings over, depending on how large the conference. That may change your plans on what you want to register for. So take all this into account. As you're figuring out your path. Maybe you're gonna have to make decisions based on location. Maybe you're going to have to make decisions based off of who provides content online and who doesn't. But ultimately getting a good grasp of your schedule before you even attempt to leave for the conference will give you a game plan. Therefore, your confidence will be up. You'll feel more comfortable. You'll know generally where your sessions are and you'll be ready toe make the most of all the time that you have at the conference 10. Get Uncomfortable: the next piece of advice is going to seem really odd. I want you to get uncomfortable, and what I mean by that is, you know, not wearing two left shoes. But I want you to get uncomfortable at the conference, push yourself, push your limits and see what those are. If you're someone that isn't very social, you really would rather be by yourself. Check and see what types of things you could explore and push that comfort level. When I started traveling for conferences, I pretty much stuck to myself. I got a lot out of the sessions and the general things, but I didn't really get the full conference experience. I wasn't willing to reach out to new groups of people, have those conversations, explore some of those optional events and really test my limits as I continue to travel for conferences and heard about all the amazing times people had and the funds at groups ran off at two in the morning and everybody went to International House of Pancakes those types of moments, I realised people really loved people, had a good time, and I was missing out on. So really look at your comfort level and realize that you're traveling. You're someplace new. You're doing an amazing thing with your conference. You're learning a lot and push and see what you're willing to do. Have some fun Realized that. Conferences. Yes, there are a lot of work. Yes, they could be extremely draining, but you should be having fun. You're in a new town, and you didn't have to pay the bill for it. Most of us, if you definitely had to pay it for it yourself, then you should be making sure you make the most out of it and have some fun. So look and see what's around. Meet new people. Try new things. One of the most depressing things that I hear as a foodie is people go to a conference and eat at subway or eat at pizza or eat the at the places that they have around them. Every day. Try something new. Look for those hidden hole in the wall places those diners drive ins and dives. Those yelp reviews the places where chefs go to eat after shift. Have a good time, push your comfort zone and I promise you'll feel like you've got so much more out of your conference experience 11. Visit The Expo: most conferences have some sort of expo, some sort of vendor floor, someplace to go and experience a crazy time of different people, businesses, groups, whatever it may be Now for some of us. If you're not a decision maker and you're doing this for work, you think, Why should I go down and talk to vendors? There's not gonna be really anything in it for me. I'm just gonna get a lot of junk mail. And honestly, that's kind of the truth. But here's the secret one. Most vendors have some sort of swag, some sort of cool take away. Or you could just collect a lot of pens. But ultimately go explore. Go meet these people. They're people like you and me. Yes, they might be doing sales, but there's something to that. They might have insight. They might be able to help you with the problem. Even if it's not pushing their own products. It's a great time to meet other people. It's a great time to kind of relax, and there's usually a lot of contests and different cool things to win. People love to give away Apple watches Apple TV's ah, lot of times it's tablets I've seen somewhere they've given away drones. VR goggles. There's a lot of cool opportunities there, so realize, yes, you are going to get some spam after the conference. Yes, they might be trying to sell your product but hit the expo floor. It's usually a good time. Ah, lot of conferences have snacks or little treats that they put out there, and it's a great place to network and socialize on top of the expo floor. Look at the other optional events that are going on. Most conferences have some sort of after hours event or different optional ventures into the town. They might be off site. Look into these because some of the best experiences I've had have been from pre conference events. So I end up flying out early and I do some sort of half day or full day event before the conference starts. This opportunity has created some amazing networking. I've gotten hands on one on one time with instructors, and ultimately it's changed who I am today. So look into these extras. Sometimes they do cost more, but really look at what the opportunity is and what your goals are for getting out of this conference. Most of the time, they're going to be worth it, and you'll have a blast. It will give you, um, or intimate time to meet new people, especially if you're traveling alone and you can create some friendships and some opportunities, both personal and professional, moving forward. 12. Meet Your Instructors: one of the best things that I've experienced the conferences was getting a chance to meet my instructors. Now a lot of the conferences I've gone to are more hands on learning type of events. And so a lot of the time, the instructors are people that have been successful in their different fields for photography. I've worked with some amazing photographers. Dobie Conference I've gotten the opportunity to talk and meet with basically adobe evangelists one on one. Some of the engineers at Adobe and those opportunities are outside of the traditional conference experience. If you have the opportunity, take it. I've had some amazing conversations with people that work behind the scenes people that put on the conference, the engineers behind the software. Now I'm not saying stock them or go creep up on arm or be a pest. But a lot of those people have some downtime in between sessions, and they like to talk and meet you. Otherwise they wouldn't be there presenting. So you social media. If you bump into them or hang out after their sessions over, you can kind of gauge the room and see if they have time to chat. It's a great opportunity. If you have those people that can help mentor, you answer questions and generally just kind of are there to have fun conversations with some of the best times I've had it. Photoshopped World were hanging out with Scott Kalbe, Terry White, different instructors that were just there to have a good time. So make sure you look at who your instructors are and figure out if you can connect network with them after the conference is over. After sessions, whatever it takes. Because those experiences last a long time and you never know. Just those couple conversations might put you out. A new career path might give you an amazing new entry into your network and could be life changing. 13. Business Card Exchange: during your conference experience, there is probably going to be times where you're giving out business cards and people are giving you. There's don't have business cards. You might want to get some put together. If you're going to a conference on your own, it's great just to have some sort of contact card that you can give out now. Yes, some of the apse that are provided for conferences have kind of social networking abilities , and you can kind of network together. But ultimately the business card is still king. There is just one of those things that you could hand out. People can get in touch with you. You can get in touch with them, and it's that normal old school networking feel. So first, you're gonna need to make sure you have business cards with you. You don't need a ton. I always over pack, and I don't give out that many. But you wanna have maybe 25 to 50 depending on how big and how social you feel like being one of the other keys is when someone gives you a business card, write notes on that card. You might interact with 100 people maybe 1000 people at this conference keeping track of who that card actually is. If they don't have a photo on there, you're going to struggle. So make sure you take some notes, right? Just a quick sentence. What you talked about what your goals are, whatever that interaction is. And that way, when you get back after the conference, you do your laundry. You complain about your back pain from the flight. Um, and you have all those moments of getting back into it at work. You don't look at that business card ago. Oh, what were we talking about again? That's a network opportunity lost. So make sure you have business cards to give out, and you have a pen to be able to take notes as people give you their business cards. 14. Course Wrap Up: Ultimately, I hope these 10 tips help you as you try to master the conference experience. They're short and quick tips that hopefully help you with your anxiety or your worry going into conference season. I think a lot can be done with the tips that I've given you, but there's so much more we can talk about again. Make sure to complete that homework or that assignment. And let's have those conversations I want to hear from you. I want to make sure that I can answer any questions and we can have more conversations. Plus, it'll give me the chance to develop content for Part two, which will have, hopefully in the near future by taking some of this information in. I hope you feel more confident about your conference experience, and you feel that you can truly get what you're looking for out of traveling out of these learning moments, whatever you might be doing. So hopefully you got a little bit out of this. I look forward to our conversations and enjoy mastering the conference experience