Assume that your conference participants have poorly developed skills for participating in a conference
If your participants freely admit that they attend conferences, make notes, and never look at them again, it’s clear that they can benefit from a review of skills for participating in a conference. This issue will grow in importance with the use of technology which makes it very easy to surf the web, write emails, and shop. The more technology we bring into the meeting room, the harder it will be for people to stay engaged with the event.
What skills do conference participants need to effectively participate?
Here are some.
- Making notes with meaning.
- Listening to speakers in ways that lead to ideas and insights.
- Listening to different types of speakers: motivators motivate while educators inform.
- Picking workshops: good to know or need to know?
- Networking with a purpose.
- Turning their ideas into actions back at work in ways that make a difference.
While writing this book, a comment was made that by a participant: ‘The last time I thought about these skills was when I was in primary school and a teacher told us how to make notes’. It’s time for some new lessons.
Questions for conference designers
- Can you prompt participants to take responsibility for what they learn and the ideas they create?
- Does your conference introduction include some tips or recommendations such as, ‘Before we start, here are some tips for getting more value from this event’?
Insight from the book
A wake-up call on computers
Should people use computers and iPads for notes at a conference? If you want to maximize their learning and engagement, the answer is no. Psychological Science published The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking.
Technology savvy university students listened to TED presentations. Some used a note book to make notes while others used a computer to make notes. They were then tested. Here are some findings.
- Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning.
- The research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing.
- Students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand.
- We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.
Laptop use in classrooms should be viewed with a healthy dose of caution; despite their growing popularity, laptops may be doing more harm in classrooms than good.
Perhaps the use of computers in a conference should be viewed with a healthy dose of caution as well. Technology companies make many claims about the benefits they offer. The industry needs to do more research to measure the effectiveness of these claims.
Click the link below to download a copy of the research.