Last year, a wide-eyed learning designer went to her first Learning Technologies Exhibition. She signed up to all the free seminars that sounded interesting and plotted a rough route around the exhibition floor to see the vendors she really wanted to see. Then she got there. And her plan went out the window.
Hands up, I made some classic rookie mistakes. I didn’t plan for a lunch break. The exhibition floor was SO MUCH BIGGER than I thought it would be and I struggled with the floor plan. I didn’t realise where some of the seminar times overlapped. And my utter inability to count meant I would’ve needed about five days to see everything I wanted to see.
I don’t want to make the same mistakes again this year, so I asked the LN members’ community on Slack for their top tips to add to my own. Here’s what they had to say.
Before you go
- Get the Learning Technologies Exhibition app – Catherine Dartnall
It has details of sessions and helps you keep track of where you want to be. You can also network with other attendees and arrange to meet up on the day. Get the app here.
- Plan your route – Gemma Wells
Look at the floor plan and seminar times, then plan a route in advance based on who you want to see and talk to.
- Grade who you want to see on a scale – Bob Price
Grade your choices on a scale: 1 = must see, 2 = nice to see, 3 = meh. That’ll whittle down your choices in no time.
- Find out about seminars in advance – Catherine Dartnall
Lots of people post in advance what they’ll be talk about in the free seminars, so you can get an idea whether it’s a 1, 2 or 3 on Bob’s scale. Check out the #LT23UK hashtag on LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Book in some face-to-face catch-ups – Andrew Jacobs
Nothing beats seeing people in person, so take advantage of everyone being in one place and book in some face-to-face meetings. And if you’re wondering how to manage those catch-ups, check out Andrew’s bonus tips.
- Stuff to pack in your bag – Andrew Jacobs, Kim Ellis, Jayne Davids, Tom McDowall
The exhibition floor is huge and you’ll easily get in your 10,000 steps (if not more), So Andrew recommends bringing comfy shoes.
If you’re staying overnight, Kim recommends leaving room in your luggage for merch and info packs. But mostly merch.
The exhibition floor gets really busy and a bit warm, so Jayne recommends bringing a refillable water bottle with you. There are free water refill stations in the main ExCeL hall.
Bring some key items you’d be lost without – Tom recommends packing a con bag for the essentials like a notepad, pens (that you don’t mind losing), a power bank for your phone and snacks.
While you're there
- Get a seat at the free seminars – Catherine Dartnall
Turn up early! Popular sessions fill up fast and the last thing you want to do is stand for 30 minutes. Catherine also recommends chatting to people in the queue or sitting next to you in the seminars, because by chance you could end up standing/sitting next to someone you’ve been talking to online.
- Be prepared to politely say ‘no’ – Bob Price
People will want to scan your visitor pass to get your details. If you don’t want sales calls, you can politely say ‘no’. But be polite, because they’re only trying to do their job.
- Take notes at seminars – Paula Hughes
There’s a lot of excellent advice and tips on offer in the free seminars. But you have a lot to take in, so take notes otherwise you’ll forget said advice and tips. Notes are also handy to have if your boss asks what you got out of your visit, other than a big bag of merch.
- Take breaks – Kashish Kacheria, Kim Ellis
There’s so much hustle and bustle, and a lot to digest. Kashish appreciates a 10 minute walk or coffee run in the middle of all the fun, socialising, freebie hunting, webinars, sales pitches and general madness!
Kim also recommends grabbing a cuppa with a new connection.
- Visit the LN and industry partners’ stands – Paula Hughes, Frank Furnari, Bob Price
Come say hi to me and some of the other directors on stand Q12. There’s a chance we’ll have sweets if you need a sugar boost.
Frank recommends dropping by stand E20 to meet the ARuVR team, or going along to their free seminars and bitesize sessions.
Bob reckons iAM Learning has the best stickers, so recommends visiting them at stand J05.
Check out the exhibitor list to find the stand numbers for our other industry partners who’ll be there.
- Check out the backchannel – Catherine Dartnall
There’s usually a lively back channel with a nominated crew doing a lot of tweeting throughout the two days – look out on Twitter for a list of names to follow. Catherine reckons @kategraham23 has been great in previous years. This year’s backchannel hashtag is #LT23UK.
- Adapt your plan on the go – Paula Hughes
You know what they say about the best laid plans. It’ll be busy. There’ll be lots of people. There’ll be queues. There’ll be shiny things. Some people will offer you cupcakes and sweets. You’ll need the loo. You might just need 10 minutes to sit down and decompress. So it’s likely you’ll have to adapt your plan on the go (Bob’s scale should help with this).
- Come along to the LN casual at the end of day one – Tom McDowall
Join us at The Windjammer pub at the end of day one and meet Tom plus other LN members and directors. RSVP and get directions on our website.
When you get home
- Give yourself time to recover – Kashish Kacheria, Paula Hughes
Kashish and I both needed some serious introvert time to recover from our last trips to Learning Technologies. It’s an intense couple of days and you’ll be tired.
- Catch up on what you missed – Catherine Dartnall
The Learning Technologies hashtag is a great way to catch up on people’s reflections of the event, plus catch up on the key discussions from the seminars and conference. This year’s is #LT23UK.
- Stay in touch – Catherine Dartnall, Kim Ellis, Paula Hughes
Catherine and Kim say keep in touch with the people you got chatting to in the queues, at seminars and over coffee. Last year I found that getting in touch with speakers who said things that resonated with me was a great way to keep the conversation going.
- Give yourself actions – Paula Hughes
Two days out of anyone’s work week is a lot. So it has to be worth it. Reflect on what you got out of attending and what topics resonated with you most. Then give yourself some actions related to those topics. For example, last year the discussions about impact resonated most with me, so I gave myself actions to: 1) learn more about ways to measure impact, 2) ask how we’re measuring impact on every project I’m involved in, 3) share my learnings about measuring impact with my colleagues.
So there you have it. LN members’ top tips to make the most of your visit to Learning Technologies. Thanks to everyone who shared their tips. What are yours?